Friends and Finances

I have noticed that, starting around age 24, many of your existing friendships begin to change. By then, most people stop thinking it’s fun to smoke a joint and start finding better things to do with their weekends than binge drink and eat junk food to cure their hangovers. If rings aren’t already on fingers, many people start getting into more serious relationships. And the once taboo topic of kids is often brought to the dinner table.

Along with these obvious factors, I believe that the different paths we are all on lead us to our individual spending and saving patterns. Unfortunately, the varying opinions that come from this could be another reason some friendships dissipate. When you’re broke, people grow tired of hearing the same excuses and start looking for friends who can afford to go out and spend money. At the same time, you yourself may want to hang out with more people who are trying to live a minimalist life, or at least just know how to save money rather than spend it on frivolous things.

Personally, I know my debt has affected more than one of my friendships. In June, when I finally learned how to say no to things I knew weren’t as important as paying off my debt, people slowly stopped asking. I didn’t want to go shopping, I wouldn’t want to go for dinner once/week and I couldn’t afford to go on a vacation. It didn’t help that work/homework/side work were taking up a huge portion of my timetable but, in the end, my replies were often related to my financial situation.

Can I blame friends for getting sick of hearing the word no? No. Especially, since only a few of them knew I was focusing on the numbers in my bank account, while many others were left in the dark about it. But does it hurt? I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. I don’t enjoy saying no to shopping trips, or to visiting friends in Vancouver or saving up for a vacation. I want to do all of those things! But I can’t make any of them priorities over getting myself out of the situation I am in. And I can’t ask people to wait around for me, while I do.

To help myself move past lost friendships, I try to imagine that each of us is a car on a road trip. On certain stretches of the trip, you will be surrounded by other cars. You’ll hang out every day and support each other, especially during some of the long hauls. You’ll all stop when one car needs to refuel or another breaks down and needs a few days to get better. But on your road trip, there are also a number of exits. And some of the other cars may take an exit sooner than you expected. You can miss their company but don’t stay mad at any car for leaving. They just need to continue on their own road trip, to reach their final destination. And their purpose was to help you reach yours.

I hope everyone has a great weekend, xo

  • This happened for me when I was ~20. Lots of my friends didnt’ understand my drive to go to school, be in a relationship, my not wanting to go to the club and drop $100 on drinks and cabs. I drifted from lots of them and made new ones. I still love my old friends but they are on a whole different planet than I am. It’s sad, but it’s nice to meet new friends that are on similar playing fields!

  • I’m glad that right now I have great friends who understand what I’m going through. Whereas in the past they were different, but they’ve finally come to their senses that there are other things more important.

  • My flirtation with that over-shopping ended when I got out of college, but I never went through a drinking phase for more than the first 3 months of college.

    I will say that after leaving college and getting out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months, I realized there was more to life than pretty things (*sigh* Pinterest!!), because I was also interested in increasing my net worth and becoming financially secure — not necessarily a millionaire by 40 or whatever, but more that I would be happy where I was, who I was and able to handle anything coming my way.

    Only a few friends have gone down the path that I have. I have a friend I’m super proud of, but I’ve slowly distanced myself from the uber-drama friends who do that partying, drinking and have a general carelessness in their life.

    We just aren’t compatible any more.

    I can’t deal with people who don’t even want to try to get their shizz together, because it’s mentally exhausting to be repeating the same stuff for 5 years in a row.

  • I’ve noticed this ever since I cracked down on my finances. For instance, I was at dinner with my fairly wealthy friends and I felt a bit uncomfortable when they kept asking if we wanted to get some dishes to share (at a moderately expensive restaurant) or get a bottle of wine. I kept saying no not really, knowing that it made me sound cheap. I was relieved that I kept my bill fairly low but felt uncomfortable the entire time. This was for a birthday so I felt obligated to attend but in the future I think I will opt out. Now that I’m in my late 20s, I’m finding more and more that my peers are comfortable spending money while I’m not quite there yet. On that road trip of yours, I’m definitely a bit behind but that’s okay!

  • Remember the old saying, ‘Some friends are for a reason, some are for a season, and a few are forever’? It’s so true, although your analogy is more creative. :) I’m older than you (mid-30s), and I think you’re absolutely right that you do lose a lot of friends at that mid-20s time. I’m only in touch with one friend from college, and I think that’s because we were all party friends and didn’t have a substantial base for anything deeper. There was a lonely year or two but you WILL make new friends, and I’ve found that the close friends I made in my late 20s and into my 30s have stood the test of time AND budget concerns. (Many of them have the same concerns, the older they get.) Although I have mourned the loss of friends from my life for various reasons, in the long term, I’ve been able to see that we were only friends for a reason (say, we were both single), a season (college, for example), etc., just as the saying goes. And some of those friends were ‘toxic’ and I am thankful, in retrospect, that they are no longer a part of my life! And your true friends will either never leave or they will eventually cycle back around. That’s happened with a few friends from high school (and without the help of Facebook, I might add–ha–very organically), and it’s nice to know that after some time apart, sometimes old friends do grow, as do you, and it’s nice when you land on the same page again.

    • Oh, I have plenty of friends who are on my journey with me, right now. Friends who read my blog daily, support me on the days I want to go binge shopping and who are also looking to live a more simple lifestyle.

      BTW – Thank you for your comments, Bonnie. You are a great writer. :)

      • Thank you so much for saying that, Cait! :) It means a lot that it came from you; your blog has become my favorite PF blog over time! One of these days, maybe I will finally start my own blog. I’ve been reading PF blogs for years now.

  • This is so true! I’ve been noticing that we don’t get as many invitations to go out lately, and I think it’s because our grad school friends are finally sick of hearing us say no to spending so much money. Unfortunately, many of them also still find getting drunk and then nursing a hangover to be the best way to spend the weekend…and that’s not something we’re interested in either. But that’s okay. We’ll either find someone else to hang out with, or maybe some of our “old” friends will end up in the same place as us at some point.

  • My desire to spend very little money keeps my social life really small. The Joneses are expensive friends to have but they’re actually some of my only friends. For the same reason. :(

  • Having been married for 10 years with two kids, I can tell you that you’ll look back on events like this and realize you were just at a point where you were growing up and everyone else wasn’t yet. You’re car analogy is amazing. But it’s not always going to be lonely. Even though a lot my friends “got off at other exits”, eventually I found a wife and she’s been “driving” with me ever since.

    • Yep, that was my point exactly: we are growing up at different times. And that’s ok… it can hurt, for a while, but it’s not the end of the world.

  • I can totally relate to this post! I’m in my thirties and I find that I still have friends who go out to eat every weekend, shop all the time and I just can’t afford to do that anymore. I’ve had to say no a lot recently and I don’t feel bad about it at all. I’m taking care of our family first and foremost, and if that means that I don’t hang out with people who are quick to judge us, I’m okay with it.

    • Me too. I am also in my thirties and just can’t understand some of my friends are still partying and going out every weekend. I don’t want to pay for such things anymore and I see some of those friends don’t understand me and just stop inviting but that’s ok for me… My best friend is fortunately very frugal .-)

  • I’m glad I encountered this post and your car analogy. My closest friends are from high school and we kind of developed different interests over the course of university… Most of them are into partying/drinking/expensive recreational sport whereas I’m an introvert and much prefer low-key activities. Sadly we’ve drifted apart a little since the past year due to having our own responsibilities (school/work) and I’m feeling a little left out since some of them still get together due to their common interests. Your post gives me hope that I’ll still be able to make close friends in the future, and maybe with similar interests and goals as me. :)

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