Stuck in another nightmare of a traffic, the bumper sticker of the car in front of me made me laugh out loud. It said: “Lost friends and money this year. I just want the money back.”
It reminded me of an old saying that Friendship and Money are like Oil and Water, meaning they don’t mix. There is wisdom in these words, but I would suggest you take it as a warning on how to handle relationships, not stay away from them altogether.
As adults, we’ve had opportunities to make friends in our different life stages. If you make a list, it’s likely you will find that you have made (and hopefully kept) friends from school, from work, from church, from sports, and from other lifestyle activities. But regardless of where you met them, when money becomes involved, there are five types of friends that usually drain our wallet. Here’s my list, along with my tips on how you can keep them and your money too.
#1 The “Short” Friend
Hanging out with Rod is always fun, but I hate it that when it’s time to pay up, he is always short of cash. Just once, I wish he would make a stop at the ATM before we all go out, or check his wallet before he suggests a restaurant or a movie. And because he is usually short of just a few, say P100 to P200 for a P450 bill, if I cover that, the chances of getting back my P100 or P200 back is zero.
I’m ashamed to admit it took me a few years to find the courage to handle this. But I finally figured it out: each time we go out, I make it a point to stop by the ATM to get cash, and then remind Rod to do the same. Once, he told me he didn’t have his ATM card so I asked him if he had cash because I likely won’t have enough. He agreed to pay with his credit card and I paid him my share in cash.
#2 The “Help Me” Friend
I’ve fallen for this trick too many times, and realized too late that some of them are not really my “friends” after they disappeared with my money. Those who ran away with unpaid loans are people I met through work, and that’s why I was grateful that my last employer had an office rule that banned lending money among co-workers. Not that it stopped everyone from asking, but at least if you wanted to say no, you had a good reason to do so.
I admit it’s tricky to know when to say yes or no to friends that ask for a loan. In my case, I give 3 possible answers. I say no when the person asking is not a close friend and the money is not needed for a medical reason. I say yes if the person asking is a long-time friend, and the need is valid, plus the person offers to write a post-dated check or states a payment date. Now, if the person asking is a long-time friend, and the need is valid, but I know he or she is drowning in debt, I say yes but say it is a gift not a loan, and I only part with cash I can afford to let go.
The chances of staying friends with those you say yes to are high, but for the ones who get a no, well that’s when you will realize if they were worth keeping or the money that stayed in your wallet had more value.
#3 The “Itchy Feet” Friend
Don’t you just love friends who you do not see often, and yet when you do, you can pick up right where you left off? But there are friends who like to see you all the time, and they equate strong relationships with constant togetherness.
As a homebody, friends with itchy feet make me uncomfortable, not to mention the drain on my wallet from dining, shopping, and traveling together. If you have them and want to keep them, try looking for less expensive ways to come together. Instead of taking trips abroad, how about a road trip to enjoy the countryside? Or you can agree to alternately host dinners at your homes. The bigger your circle of friends, the more interesting it can be – and less costly for you too.
#4 The “Deep Pocket” Friend
When I say deep pocket, I don’t mean someone who has a lot of money. Sadly, I am talking about those who never reach for the check when you eat out. This kind of friend must have a really deep pocket because the bill has been paid but he or she has yet to find their cash to share in the expense.
There was a time when I was paid more and I did not mind treating my friends. But after doing it several times, I wished they would pitch in and pay their share too. Friendships should not be about who makes more or less, but you can’t help but feel some resentment if you are always handling the bill. So the next time we were making plans to go out, I made sure not to reach for the check. I let them take the lead, and then offered to pay my share. Maybe they got the hint because they said it will be their treat this time.
Of course if you do make more money, and do not mind paying all the time, by all means, keep doing it. Just watch for flags that you are tiring of this arrangement because you also do not want friends to take advantage of your generosity.
#5 The Deep, Deep Pocket Friend
This time, I am talking about friends that do have money, with pockets so deep that they do not need to watch what they spend. It’s nice to have this kind of friend but be careful about “keeping up with the Joneses”, meaning adjusting your lifestyle to match his or hers.
If you have a deep, deep pocket friend, you’ll have to accept that he will have the latest mobile phone, a nice car, likely more than one home and travels often. Otherwise, you may find yourself racking up debt you can’t afford to pay. Instead of focusing on what he has and what you do not have, look at other things you have in common, like love for books, or long walks. Remember, money is great but it can’t buy happiness. And if you want to feel rich like your friend, just count the things you have that money can’t buy.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.