Friendships and relationships, in general, are hard enough to maintain. They can often be compared to a flower garden in that they need constant attention, care and love to thrive and flourish. But what to do when a friendship is putting a financial strain on you – either literally or mentally?
Friends who are always after your money or make you feel squeamish or uncomfortable about money can be a real drag and can stop the friendship in its tracks. How do you handle such people? Are they toxic and not worth having in your life, or can a little understanding and compromise go a long way?
Yahoo! recently published an article on this very subject, and we’d like to develop it even further. First let’s examine some of those “money hungry or money obsessed friends” and how to deal with their various behaviors.
The “Economically Disadvantaged” Friend Looking for Pity – Also known as the Charlie Brown friend, these friends are constantly complaining about their lack of finances. You are interested in trying a great new lounge or restaurant and your “Charlie Brown” friend tells you that he/she only has $25 left in his/her checking account until Monday.
Where does that leave you? In a pretty awkward situation to say the least. You can sacrifice an evening you were looking forward to or feel guilted into offering to pay for your friend, which is exactly what this type wants. However, no matter how enjoyable your evening is, it comes at your expense.
Julia Scott, a journalist and founder of BargainBabe.com, recommends putting the ball in the court of the person who is worried about the money and suggesting they choose a low cost alternative. After all, you can’t take their money problems on.
The Bridezilla – When it comes to a woman and her wedding, there’s no telling what type of behavior will rear its ugly head. Women in the midst of planning weddings may become self-absorbed and catty and forget that their special day is not the center of their friends’ lives.
A bride may expect you to shell out big bucks for a bridesmaid’s dress or for throwing them a swanky bachelorette party. Before you know it, you’re spending more on a friend’s wedding than you are on yourself or on close family.
We recommend “taking the bull by the horns.” If you are asked to participate in a wedding and suspect it may burn a hole in your wallet, speak to the bride-to-be up front and explain your concerns and budgetary constraints. You could also decline to participate, but that may end up costing you a dear friend who just doesn’t have her head on straight at the moment. Spending an affordable amount of money may be looked at as an investment in the relationship.
The Mooch – Sometimes a toxic relationship can be our fault too. If you have a friend who seems just fine with taking advantage of you, you may want to rethink the relationship dynamic.
At first you may try to be generous and buy them drinks, share your food or make them meals, but when it becomes apparent that the friend is not giving anything back, you will soon realize you are in a relationship with a “mooch.”
Does this friend ever show you that he would be willing to reciprocate? If you do not want to abandon the friendship, then the next time he/she tries to take advantage or mooch, tell your friend you made a terrible mistake by enabling the behavior, and see just how long they stick around. This may be one instance where you don’t have to decide whether or not to cut off the relationship. The friend’s response will be the answer you need.
Mr. Big Stuff – In this kind of relationship, it’s not actuall money that bothers you so much as the thought of money. This friend constantly talks about how much things are, how much he/she is spending and almost demands (or at least you feel that he/she almost demands) you to keep up.
You end up going into debt just to maintain the relationship and not feel as if you are constantly being one upped. You can’t just have a quiet evening out with a friend of this nature. It has to entail a five star restaurant, the most expensive drinks and the “best seat in the house.” You end up getting sucked in.
One way to change this dynamic is to refuse to get caught up in the same mentality your friend is implementing; talk about things other than money, and show your friend that elegance does not necessarily equate with breaking the bank. On a more frank note, express to your friend that although you like his/her company, you just can’t keep up in terms of spending habits. A real friend will want to be with you no matter what you are willing to spend on dinner.
The Shopaholic Spouse – Being married to a shopaholic is a difficult task. There are those who spend their spouse’s money and those who spend money that their spouses do not have. Both cases can lead to a recipe for disaster.
Unfortunately, even though your spouse should be the person with whom you feel most free speaking, money conversations can be difficult, regardless. Spending your significant other’s money is, in some instances, a sign of disrespect. It is worth having a conversation about, especially if it bothers you.
Although we can pick friends, we may find over time they are not perfect and that money is coming in between us. Rather than give up on those friends who make money too big a deal in the relationship, the above suggestions are easy to implement and will show you pretty quickly who is a tried and true friend and who is in it for the money.
Published or updated March 22, 2013.