The following post is from Melissa Batai
When I was just out of college, I had a friend, Becky, who was married with a child. She loved to go out shopping, out to eat, to clubs, etc. For a while, I went with her, just happy to get out of the house and have something to do.
But after a few months, I discovered my budget was taking a serious hit. I simply couldn’t afford to go out to eat every Saturday and Sunday and spend the rest of Saturday shopping at the mall. I swallowed my pride and told Becky my situation. She then started paying for everything, which had not been my intention.
After a few more months, I started declining her invitations because I didn’t want her to continually pay for me. Our friendship gradually ended.
Each of us has our own level of comfort when it comes to spending. Things can get uncomfortable quickly if you find that you have friends who like to spend more than you do (or more than you can afford to).
Here are some ways to handle the situation:
Be honest. If you feel comfortable revealing the truth to your friends, let them know that you simply don’t have the money for extravagant get-togethers. In the best case here, your friends understand and are willing to do some less costly activities. (Keep in mind, though, after this talk, there may be times your friends don’t invite you to more expensive events because they don’t want you to feel the financial strain.)
Take turns choosing activities. If the friendship is important to you and you know the other party likes to spend money to have fun, take turns choosing activities. Maybe you have several friends over to your house for game night, and then the next time, your friends choose and you go out to the pricey club they’ve been wanting to try.
Ask for separate checks when you go out to eat. Always ask for separate checks when you go out to eat. I’m frugal by nature; when I eat out, I rarely get appetizers. I don’t get desserts, and I only drink water, so it drives me crazy when I have to split the tab down the middle with a spendthrift friend. When the waiter begins taking orders, ask for separate checks. Most waiters have no trouble doing this if you ask in the beginning, when they just start taking orders.
Decline invitations. If your friends are spendthrifts and don’t want to make accommodations for your financial situation, you may have to start declining invitations. Unfortunately, if you decline invitations too frequently, the friendship, depending on how weak it is, may dissolve.
Make new frugal friends. Try to also make some friends who understand your financial situation and are in a similar situation. Then, when you have to decline an invitation from your spendthrift friend, you have another friend you can do something with who doesn’t mind sharing a meal at home or playing a board game.
Having friends who spend money differently than you do is difficult. When you’re young, you think this problem will disappear when you’re older, but that’s not always true. My husband and I are firmly entrenched in midlife, and we just recently had to turn down an invitation to go out to a play with another couple because the tickets would have set us back $200!
How do you handle friends who can or want to spend more money on entertainment than you do?