Ever feel like you’re the broke friend? Keeping up with your friends can be difficult. Everyone else seems unfazed by countless meals out, expensive shopping trips, and pricey travel plans; meanwhile you’re collecting coupons for $0.50 off peanut butter just to stay on budget. The reality of the situation is that trying to match your friends’ spending habits isn’t helping anyone.
For starters, unless all your friends all have similar jobs, your income will vary wildly. Your paycheck does not determine how successful you are, and I doubt any of your friends think it does. If you feel like your higher-earning friends are flaunting their disposable income, sit down and talk about it. They’re almost certainly NOT purposefully picking activities and restaurants you can’t afford. Propose some low or no cost alternatives. If the pricey plans are only occasional and you don’t want to bring it up, just decline joining the group that night. You don’t need any more explanation than, “Sorry, I can’t make it that night.”
Also understand that some of your friends might not be living within their means. Just because you’re a budgeter with plans to meet short and long-term savings goals, doesn’t mean your friends have the same ideas. For all you know, they could be racking up credit card debt and/or missing opportunities to save for retirement and other big events. You may actually help your friends out by mentioning that, while you’d love to enjoy a $50 brunch, you’re trying to pay off your student loans in the next 5 years. Be a good example by managing your money wisely and occasionally verbalizing your goals, but don’t push the issue. Even your close friends might be defensive about their money habits.