We go through life racking up friends, and as our lives change these friendships change, too, evolving as we evolve.
Chief among these changes tends to be a change in the financial status between friends. Some begin to earn significantly more, and some, significantly less.
It’s been well-documented that income inequality can affect friendships. People just starting out their adult life, accustomed to being nearly financially equals with friends, may find that life after the university comes with a level of inequality in finances. To avoid this gap in income leading to a gap in relationships, here are five tips to help manage a financial disparity in relationships.
Be honest about your finances
When you have friends who earn significantly more, it may be difficult to keep up with the hangouts and impulsive spending. You should not be ashamed to set a financial boundary for yourself because most times, your friends will assume you can afford the same things as them. It is your duty to set the record straight. If they suggest things you cannot afford, you may suggest cheaper alternatives.
Likewise, when you have friends who are not as financially stable as you are, you should understand their financial situation, make plans around them or foot their bill when it is above their financial capability. For instance, if the richer friend suggests clubbing, he has to put his friend into consideration in his choice of club. The rich friend might be able to afford Velvett, but his friend will consider each drink a sizable chunk into his income.
Do not compare
It is true that comparison is the thief of joy, and in this case, death of friendships. One thing you should absolutely not do is compare your finances to that of your friends, because this will ultimately lead to envy, and it is downhill from there. Do not concentrate on their wins and advancement, instead focus on yours and how you can improve your income.
Also, if you’re doing financially better than your friends, it is important that you don’t see yourself as better than your friends. They are not a reminder to be grateful for how well you are doing, and you should look out for opportunities for them in your more privileged circle.
Accept and give kindness
Your friends will want to do nice things for you sometimes and you should learn to accept it. They are not turning you into a charity case or trying to rub their wealth on your nose, they are just being friends. In cases when you feel uncomfortable accepting help from your well off friends, consider if the situations were to be reversed and see if you would do the same for them. The easy way to navigate this is to accept their kindness graciously, and be kind to them too in the capacity that you can.
You should treat friends sometimes, too. Especially if it’s your idea to go to a fancy place and you make more money than they do. You shouldn’t have a problem with picking up the tab sometimes, and if they decide to take the tab on some occasions, do not refuse them the opportunity on the basis of their income.
For instance, your less well-off friend might decide to do the small things like fueling your car on a road trip or buy you the book you have been on about, you should not make them feel they should not just because you know you are well off.
Do not live off them
It is easy to get carried away when you have significantly richer friends. You get used to having dinners paid for, and might be suggestive of gifts you want from them. Your friends might love you a lot and value your friendship, but this habit might eventually push them to a breaking point. You should not make them feel like you befriended them for financial gain. Ensure there is a balance in expenses. Do not exploit their liberality. Likewise, you can easily get used to the philanthropic tingle you get when you give. Do not turn your friends to objects of charity that help you get off as a good person. Do not insult their reality.
Hold your head high
Friendship transcends finances. You should not feel inferior or superior to a friend because of your financial standing. In your friendship, you are equals and your opinions are of equal measure. Be yourself and do not let your finances affect how you relate with your friends.