I can’t afford my friends anymore

friends nightout drinking wine

Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

Have you ever been in a situation where you don’t have the funds to keep up with your friend’s spending, but you would eagerly join them in every adventure? If yes, welcome to the club as nowadays there are a million people out there struggling to keep up with their friend’s lifestyle even though they don’t have the funds to do so.

Feeling left out of the gang can lead to numerous unwanted outcomes, but mainly stress and strained relationships. However, the main question here should be – does this sound normal? If not, then welcome to the club, again!

We are going to dig deeper into the drawing concerts of individuals feeling constant financial pressure to keep up with the hectic and lucrative lifestyle their friends are leading.

What’s more, we will also see whether that’s something you should be doing and what consequences it could have on the relationship.

The Financial Pressure of Keeping Up with Friends

Everyone’s “pocket” ought to be their business, but when you need to top it up with your friends’ ongoing spending, then this tends to be a sign of a far more severe societal pressure. Depending on how long you have been friends and what your relationship has been like over the course of years, matching your friends’ budget can lead to serious mental and financial difficulties.

If your friends have a habit of going out for lunch, dinner, or even brunch at least three times per week and you can only afford to go one time, this can have a vast psychological impact on your mental health. The problem isn’t the fact that you would stop being friends because you cannot go, but the fact that you don’t have sufficient funds to match their consumer’s habits, thus feeling agitated and nervous.

What’s more, besides starting to have a fear that you would be deprived of something important, there is the factor of not being able to pay your telephone bill or refill the refrigerator as you constantly need to keep up with your friends.

Just imagine going on a road trip with your girlfriends around charming Tuscany despite not having enough money to pay the rent next month. These never-ending feelings of financial disparity of trying to mimic your friends’ behavior can be a real mental letdown and even cause friendship breakups.

The Emotional Toll of Financial Discrepancies in Friendships

So, what does the term “I can’t afford my friends anymore” really entail?

The biggest inclination is logical, and emotional. The financial stress around not having enough money, in addition to the fact of not being able to catch up with your friend’s outings and spending can leave you feeling isolated and excluded.

Besides the fascinating feelings of isolation and exclusion the financial discrepancies in friendships can cause, there’s the new psychological phenomenon called FOMO (Fear of missing out) that is another culprit to causing emotional burden.

This unique term was highlighted by social media platforms to pinpoint that such feelings of being left out, at least financially, have emotionally burdening consequences.

For example, if your friends are keen runners and they tend to regularly participate in races that have a substantial enrollment fee, no matter how good a runner you might be, you simply don’t have enough money to keep up with them.

Hence, every time you wish to sign up and pay for the race, you would get excluded just for the fact that you don’t have the money to pay the race fee, gas, or lunch. This would make you feel agitated, angry, and leave you with irrational thoughts of constantly having to worry about money to maintain your friendship.

In the end, you’ll end up using your life savings or borrowing money so you could go on a trail race. Illogical, right?

Recognizing and Addressing Financial Boundaries

Okay, let’s admit, it’s difficult to make friends as an adult as you need to consider so many things, delegate time and finances, and be “present” in social outings in order to maintain a healthy relationship.

However, if you want to keep up with your friends’ financial spree you need to first figure out how to handle having less money than your friends. Not recognizing the issues of having ongoing financial strain can severely affect your friendship.

Therefore, recognition is the first step in overcoming the financial obstacles such friendships leave on you, and the second step is addressing the problem. Sure, they are your friends, they would understand that you can’t afford weekly dinners at a fancy restaurant, right? Well, some may, others may not.

The key is communication. If you were to sit down with your friends and communicate the financial boundaries you wish to have so that you won’t miss out on the major things they keep planning so as to be around them, you would need to tell them directly.

friends enjoying good food and wine

Both you and your friends should be aware of the fact that finances mustn’t be in between your friendship. Self-awareness in correlation to self-compassion might be the most essential piece of advice as well as a notion to address when you want to come clean with your financial boundaries.

Communicating Openly About Financial Concerns

You should be able to openly and without any restraints talk to your friends, no matter what the issue is. Financial limitations are a tricky topic but if you want to be on good terms, you must have an honest and respectful conversation about money with your friends.

Start by expressing your desire to be around them in every single situation, how you would like to share all the experience with them but not by suffering major financial burdens. Talk to them freely and directly mention that you would like to be present at the events, concerts, races, or parties they attend, but not without prior financial planning. If you were to suggest ways to delegate your earnings neatly throughout the month upfront so you could keep up with your friends but at the same time not go broke, they would understand.

Focus on having shared experiences rather than worrying about expenditures as if your friends are true and caring, they wouldn’t also like to see you having financial problems just due to clubbing three nights in a row.

There’s nothing more valuable than having a transparent relationship and expressing mutual understanding in friendship. Opt to be honest and open about your financial worries if you wish to maintain healthy friendships.

Finding Affordable Ways to Stay Connected

Be creative and genuine and offer fun but budget-friendly alternatives for socializing, spending time with your friends and avoiding friendship breakups. For instance, instead of going to costly brunches, why not have them round and prepare delicious Italian meals such as carpaccio?

It’s far cheaper to organize wine and dine nights with home-cooked pasta than to sit at a renowned restaurant every week. Also, you could organize a short trip around the countryside, visit various vineries, taste exquisite wines, and rent a house overlooking a stunning view instead of every night going to a different bar for expensive drinks.

Furthermore, there are plenty of free activities that you can do together such as going to an open-air cinema, going to the beach, cycling or walking in the park, the list is endless.

Once you plan activities such as those that everyone can afford, share costs, and enjoy without feeling awkward, you will nurture your friendship and feel content.

Building and Maintaining Financially Healthy Friendships

If there’s one thing that should be fully noted is that you cannot put a price on friendship. The essence of a real friendship is mutual respect and support. If you have a friend who understands your worries and troubles, he will not care that you are not financially compatible.

Money cannot buy happiness or respect, thus you cannot measure friendship by how much you earn or spend. Friends who are next to each other when the going gets tough are friends for life, and nothing is related to how much you spend money.

Friends who stay by your side when you are going through a financial crisis or when you can’t seem to keep up with them are friends for life. When you delegate your funds each month and upfront organize gatherings or social outings, you are bound to grow old together – in a financially stable manner of course.

All in all, friends with enough self-esteem, those who are aware that building a strong foundation in a relationship is the best policy, will never allow financial obstacles to come in between them. What’s more, having a direct and honest friendship will always successfully navigate financial differences and never even stress about it.

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