Sunday, September 16, 2007

Do finances affect friendships?

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...


MEG said...

I agree with you that finances almost always affect friendships. Unless you know people who are exactly as frugal as you (which is very difficult, in my experience), then you will always be forced to spend more or less than you want to.

This is particularly hard for me because one of my primary focuses right now is building relationships--I'm far too content to sit at home alone reading and/or blogging away my nights and weekends. But I've realized (obviously) that I spend far more money when I make plans with friends or potential new friends or coworkers. Which is a budget-breaker I've been all too comfortable taking part in...I really need to learn how to set boundaries in this area.

M said...

For me, money might create issues, but not really ones about meeting up socially. For me when it does crate issues, it's usually just people being a bit oblivious about lifestyles other than their own, but I find that happens mostly with people who are already a little self absorbed or self concerned, and that it isn't really about the money.

But as for spending time together, I find there are many activities that pretty much anyone of almost any income can partake in. I think if people aren't willing to be a little flexible, maybe they aren't the kind of friends I would really want in the first place.

But I've always found a lot of ways to see friends or acquaintances without having to spend more than I want.

Some outings that don't require much money that I like: inviting someone over for tea, coffee, dessert, brunch, a simple dinner, a picnic at the park, a walk in the park, hiking, going to the beach/lake/river, etc., meet up for coffee/tea/etc., go to an art gallery opening, free night at a museum or a pay as you wish museum, matinee at the movies, community theater, free concert or other free or cheap entertainment in the community, a cheap dinner out, pizza, etc. . . .

I also don't have a problem telling people when something won't work for me and suggesting instead a few options that will, and so far that has worked just fine and I haven't really had the cost of something get in the way of being able to see friends.

I think if I looked for friends who spend similarly as me or have the same amount of money, etc., it would be pretty hard to find or keep friends. Accepting differences, but finding ways to compromise and work around those differences, at least for me, works much better.

JoePolvino said...

Interesting read. We have 2 kids and 1.5 incomes, and have found the most difficult part of relationships with other families is how they value money with respect to other things in life.

We have found several families that think the way we do about money; saving and spending wisely.

On the other hand, there is a family we know that must have had a huge inheritance. They spend money on lots of things they probably consider to be important (cable, dvr, broadband, cell phones, satellite radio, 4 wheelers, dirt bikes, new cars, cottage and full renovation, acreage, boat, boat dock, trailers, camper, blackberry, gps receivers, etc) and as a result we have very little in common since they are very much into amassing material goods.

So I think as long as you hold on to what is important, then you will naturally gravitate toward friends that think along the same ways money-wise.

Kyle said...

Great points. My wife an I have found that it is also hard to build strong relationships with people that are not on the same wave length as us in terms of lifestyle and money. We have found that focusing on enjoying what we have and not on accumulating "stuff" has brought us into contact with people that share our same values. For what it is worth.