(WLNS) – Money might not be able to buy you friends, but it can certainly tear friendships apart. The reason that money can be such a sticky issue in relationships is because the way you spend money says a lot about your priorities. If your priorities do not align with those who share your social network, it can create tension.
Have you ever agreed to a night with friends thinking you were in for a low-key evening only to find yourself out late buying dinner, drinks, and ultimately missing $120 from your monthly budget? We all have that friend whose company seems to come with a large tab. Maybe they have expensive taste, love an adventure, or maybe they use guilt to get you to buy into their plans. Either way, group dynamics can have a huge impact on your financial situation.
When these situations inevitably arise, the first thing you should do is remind yourself of your financial goals and ask yourself if short-term rewards are worth the risk to your long-term goals. Once you have answered these questions for yourself, be honest with your friends about having a budget and being committed to your financial wellness. If they care about you, they should respect and understand your choices, and it might help them see how their desires and decisions impact others (and it might even encourage them to reexamine their spending decisions). If it is appropriate, offer alternative suggestions or compromises, and don’t be surprised if you find that others appreciate having options that keep their budget intact too.
It is also important to keep in mind that spending money on the people in our lives is inevitable and important. Your budget is a reflection of YOU and the people in your life are a big part of the picture, so they should appear in your budget too. Be realistic about the nature of your relationships when setting up your budget and consider your responsibilities to others and theirs to you. Being honest about your budget may lead to some difficult conversations, but ultimately, those conversations can lead to stronger relationships and guilt-free fun (which should be a part of every budget).
Ashley Samson-O’Connor is a nonprofit administrator by day and dabbles as a freelance writer whenever she can fit it in. For all those who asked her, “So what are you going to do with a poetry degree?” when she was in college, this is the answer. She lives in Royal Oak, Michigan with her husband and dog.