Do finances affect friendships? I think it does. The people you socialize with plays a large role in whether you attempt to keep up with the joneses (KUWJ). This weekend I had a glimpse of different circles of friends and KUWJ.
When we lived in the West Coast most of our friend were just like us. They had just finished school and were starting to work, or going on to graduate/professional schools so they were broke. No one in our circle had any money. Hence, hanging out mostly consisted of free or cheap activites. We often had potlucks for lunch/dinner at our house with friends bringing food and beer. We would sit and watch a movie or play video games. Going out to bars, clubs, movies, restaurants were major luxuries in those days. But we often saw our friends every weekend, even sometimes during the week days.
When we moved to the East Coast, we had moved into a different financial situation and were able to afford a better lifestyle. However due to self-imposed budgetary constraints we chose to live a lesser lifestyle in hopes of saving for retirement, paying for tuition, and having children. Unfortunately this meant turning down people's offer of eating out for lunch and dinner quite often. My DH made during these past two years of brown bagging lunch everyday and so did I. We also ate out infrequently during the weekend, and we still don't go to the movies, sporting events, etc. For us those things are still luxuries, which we plan for and go to, but just frequently.
Yesterday we had a BBQ at our house, and our friends enjoyed themselves. However, most of them do not cook, nor do they really live in large apartments for entertaining. Instead live a very trendy and hip lifestyle of eating out pretty much every meal. Thus reciprocating will be them inviting us to eat out at a cool place and splitting the bill. Realize that these are mostly 30-something people who work and make a great salary. They are well able to afford any lifestyle they choose, especially since none of them have kids. Some are single (after divorces), some are married.
Thus, I guess I realized that we haven't changed all that much from our frugal student days. And I guess it's part of the reason we haven't made any close friends out here is that we don't socialize as much. What we have in common with these new friends is less. But we could build deeper friendships if we hung out with these people more. But that would require us to change our lifestyle and I'm not ready to KUWJ.
So do finances affect your friendships? I wonder if I can find other frugal friends? Our new roomie appreciates our frugalness because he's still a post-doc. So we often eat at home and going out is a treat.
So definitely finances affects our friendships...