We all have that one friend who seems to spend more than us, maybe more than they should. It can lead to awkwardness between friends and strained ties over time.
I came across this while I was in college. At that time my friend and I were both unemployed while going to school but he had a monthly “allowance” that was given by his parents (did I mention we were 25?) and I was barely scraping by making ends meet.
He had no problem spending his money on things I just couldn’t afford – dinners at nice restaurants, nights out on the town, new clothes and tickets to sporting events and concerts.
We got along great and our personalities really clicked, but when it came to money we saw things totally differently.
The Night Everything Changed
My friend and I had plans to go out for dinner at a fairly nice restaurant. I couldn’t really afford it but didn’t want to tell him that. So I sucked it up and went. We met a group of friends there and sat with them.
Throughout the night, we had a great time catching up and we ordered appetizers, a main course, desert and drinks. Being a stereotypical accountant, in my head I was adding up the cost of the night as it went on. It was scary. I knew I was in over my head.
I feared when the bill came that we would all split the total. It seems fair but this night I actually only had an appetizer and one drink. Everyone else had much more than I did.
The bill finally came and I cringed. It was $225, not including a gratuity. At that time I spent $40 per week on groceries! There is no way I could afford this!
I offered to pay for my portion, which only came to $16. He said we should split it evenly. I mentioned that I only had one appetizer and a drink, but he suggested that everyone just split the cost because it was easier that way. He became visibly frustrated and judged me for being cheap.
No one else said anything as they didn’t want to get involved. He got up in a huff and paid for the entire bill himself.
Our relationship changed after that – I thanked him after for paying and offered to pay him for my portion but he declined.
That night didn’t end well – I thought he overreacted, while he thought I was being cheap.
I wish I would have handled that situation differently but luckily I did learn a few things that night.
- Be assertive. Don’t get into a situation you aren’t comfortable with. Take it upon yourself to make plans that you can actually afford.
- Communicate openly. I’m bad for this, but I wish I would have talked to him beforehand about money and how I had limited spending money. I was a student with limited income so it seemed obvious to me but to this day I still think he doesn’t understand.
- Turn down invitations. Sometimes my friend would invite me to concerts or sporting events and I always made an excuse on how I couldn’t go, but in reality I just couldn’t afford it. I should have turned down the dinner invitation that night and spoke to him truthfully about why I couldn’t go.
- Have a night at home. While I was in school it was normal for students to go our for dinners and drinks. A more affordable option would be to stay home, rent movies, make your own drinks and order pizzas (or make your own).
Have you ever had an expensive friend? If so, how do you handle it?