There’s a lot of shame around money (Picture: Getty/Metro)
I’ll never forget the holiday I went on with two of my good friends in 2018.
‘I have enough money to book,’ I told them, ‘but I won’t be able to afford to do much in a city like Barcelona.’
Ignoring my pleas to book a cheaper destination, my friends were subjected to doing Barcelona as cheaply as possible (which, by the way, isn’t that fun), which led to tension and resentment.
Although I was upfront about my circumstances, I didn’t have it in me to say no to the trip all together.
Why? I thought I could make it work, and I didn’t want to miss out on a holiday with two of my besties.
Dilemmas like mine are not uncommon in friendships with financial disparities, whether it’s a holiday, an expensive birthday dinner or even wedding planning.
This is because, as therapist and mortgage broker Gemma Bennett explains, people wrongly make assumptions about their friends’ financial situations.
‘So you can make assumptions on what people can or can’t afford based on what they’re earning but, actually, it’s less about what they’re earning and more about how much disposable income they have… or whether they’re saving for something,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
Gemma adds that assumptions are dangerous because they can leave us feeling like we’re lesser than in some way.
It’s easy to make (often incorrect) assumptions about our pals’ finances (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
What are the negative impacts?
If a friend, or group of friends, consistently asks you to do things you can’t afford, your mental health and self esteem might suffer.
‘We make up stories in our head about what other people are doing, feeling or having that you’re not, even when it isn’t true,’ says Gemma.
‘So we need to leave the assumptions on the shelf and don’t think that your friends are always going to make a judgement.’
This type of behaviour can also lead to friendship breakdowns.
Natasha*, 27, from London, recently had a fallout with a friend who only wanted to go out to expensive restaurants.
‘I really wanted to meet her lifestyle and go to these nice places, but when the bill would come my eyes would water,’ she tells us.
But Natasha’s friend would rather not meet up at all than go somewhere cheap or free.
‘It would anger me because I didn’t understand why it should matter where we meet up,’ Natasha adds.
‘I was really happy with my friends who would just meet in the park or at each other’s houses and enjoy each others company rather than always going to the fanciest place, because that’s what friendship is about.’
How to speak to a friend who is doesn’t understand your financial situation
If a friend is being ignorant to your financial situation – or maybe they truly don’t understand – it’s important to let them know where you stand, especially if they’re prone to taking things personally.
‘It’s important to own it,’ says Gemma.
‘But explain to them politely, and with love, that you can’t keep up with their lifestyle.’
This could mean letting them know that while you can’t afford, for example, their extravagant birthday itinerary, you’ll be able to do just one event, or perhaps even celebrate separately.
‘You will have to really lead by example on that, though,’ Gemma adds.
‘Because unless you educate them in considering things like this, they’ll keep inviting you to things that are beyond your means without a thought.’
At the end of the day, we’re in a cost of living crisis and not everybody is in the same boat financially.
Try to ignore the stigma and shame around money and be open and honest with your friends – if they don’t like it, you’ll see their true colours.
Do you have a story to share?
Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.
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