Friends share the same tastes and interests. What they might not share are the same levels of income. Even people who attended college together find that when they get out in the real world, incomes differ greatly.
Some of your friends might earn considerably more than you, for example, if they’ve gone into professions that traditionally have high salaries, such as law or medicine.
A few of your friends might earn much less than you do, for example if they fall into the starving artist camp or work in the non-profit world.
Having friends who earn more than you do can make it hard to (save money). You might feel pressure to spend like they do, even though their higher incomes make it easy for them to be (big spenders), but not very easy for you.
Different income levels mean you’ll have different needs and expectations when it comes to money. But those differing incomes don’t mean you can’t be friends.
If your friends are (big spenders) and you’re not, don’t want to be, or can’t afford to be, you need to be open with them. You’re friends, so communicating your concerns about money should be easy, right?
I’m kidding. Even among the best of friends, money matters have a way of driving people apart. Few people want to be the person who says “I’m sorry, I can’t afford it.”
While having and spending money is usually associated with power, you’ll feel so much better if you finally look at your more well-off friends and tell them that you just can’t afford another $100 dinner.
If your friends are real friends, they’ll back off once you let them know that you can’t spend you money as freely as they can. They might actually be relieved to hear you say so. (Big spenders) often spend a lot to keep up appearances.
When you finally say enough is enough, you’re giving them a chance to (save money) instead of spend it.
Keep a List of Alternatives
Some activities are expensive, such as going for a hot air balloon ride or taking a weekend trip to Las Vegas. But, there are plenty of inexpensive activities, too.
Make up a list of inexpensive activities that you and your friends enjoy. The next time your friends suggest having a “Girls’ Night” at a fancy club, offer a more affordable counter-suggestion.
For example, your Girls’ Night could take place at a bowling alley that has a bar attached or could take place at a club that doesn’t charge a hefty cover charge.
Make Money Not Matter
Another way to balance the scales when you have richer friends is to make money less of an issue. Instead of going out to a fancy dinner and having everyone dread the bill, trade off dinner party nights at each other’s houses.
Don’t worry if your friend serves surf and turf at her party when all you can afford to serve is roasted chicken and vegetables. The point of the dinner parties is to enjoy your friendship, not care about how much you’re spending on each other.
Accept the Occasional Gift
There have been times in my life when a friend who earned a bit more than I did wanted to treat me to lunch or dinner. Instead of feeling embarrassed or that I was taking advantage of my friend’s higher income, I accepted gladly.
If a friend wants to treat you to a meal or pay for your ticket to a show, let her. She’s not trying to buy your friendship or assuage her guilt about earning a lot of money.
She most likely just wants to spend some quality time with one of her close friends. If you ever end up in the same situation, odds are, you’d do the same.
Kelly Anderson is a financial planner who blogs about financial advice you can use in your everyday life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.