Whether it’s a miser who hesitates to go dutch at dinner or the moocher who’s been asking you to spot her since high school, money and friendship can be a doosey. To find solutions and solace to some money and friendship woes, Go Girl Finance, an online community that helps woman have confidence when dealing with money hosted a Twitter chat organized by the hashtag #GreenGirlfriends. The chat’s featured expert was Dr. Irene Levine (The Friendship Doctor). Through a heated discussion, we learned five basic rules that will help maintain friendships that add richness to life and let go of the ones that subtract from financial well being.
1) Borrow and Lend Money With Caution
Over 50 chat participators agreed that money has caused problems in some of their friendships. Many shared stories of hearing friends say, “I’ll pay you back” but not following through. Users expressed the pain that comes with trusting a friend and ended up being put in a tight spot. Levine’s guideline to live by is, “Never lend money you can’t afford to lend.”
2) Don’t Become an Enabler For Bad Decisions Involving Money
The chat delved into money irresponsibility and whether or not it was kosher to step in when you see a friend skipping down a dangerous path. A slew of comments flew in about the discomfort that comes with watching friends blow money to fuel toxic or unhealthy habits.
All agreed that this sort of stuff is eggshell walking territory and watching buddies mishandle cash can be rough. Levine says these types of experiences can shift a friendship between two grown women into a mother-daughter like relationship, which is never ideal. One participator spoke of a friend fueling their shopping addiction but asking for money to cover their bills. Levine said that lending money could enable a friend to be reckless. She also pointed out that irresponsible behavior like compulsive shopping could rub off on friends and advised women to be guarded with those who act out with their wallet.
And how do you handle a friend who excessively vents her personal economic troubles? One participator suggested, “If the complaint is a request for help, I offer suggestions. If not, I tune it out.”
3) Discuss Finances Before Girlfriend Getaways and Outings
Girlfriend getaways with unresolved expenses and undivided restaurant bills can lead to buried hostility and tension. On the subject of dining out, the community suggested to always “go down the middle” for restaurant checks and “get your gas money up front” for travel excursions. Levine’s position on vacations with friends was “It’s important to be honest about what you can afford.” Speaking about situations where friends influence personal spending habits, she said, “Don’t be embarrassed and don’t succumb to peer pressure.”
4) Never Forget the Value of Financial Give and Take
What about being treated? Is there any etiquette for letting a friend pay? The majority of chat contributors said that if a friend insisted, they’d accept but would try to cover them next time. Most seemed to operate by the “pay it forward” mentality.
One person brought up the potential for cultural sensitivity in accepting experiences on gratis. They said, “In some cultures, if a friend invites you to a meal, it’s implied that it’s their treat. But that doesn’t mean you can’t offer something in return.” One generous friend admitted she often likes to treat her friends. She said, “If I suggest a restaurant my friend can’t afford, I don’t mind paying. Sometimes I just want the company.”
5) Connect With Friends in healthy, positive and (almost) free ways
Taking fitness class together, grabbing a small coffee or talking a walk in the park are great examples of how to stay in friendship bliss without any financial risk. Levine spoke about how ultimately friendship exists to enhance life not reduce it. She said, “Relationships need balance and money is only one element of friendship.”
Want additional advice about money and friends? Visit GoGirlFinance.com for more.
Some prior blog posts on The Friendship Blog about friendship and money:
- Friendship and Money: Minimizing Losses
- Friendship and Money: She’s Fired, You’re Not
- Mothering a Dependent Friend: How Do I Change Course?
Category: Friends and Money