Does Money Ruin Friendships?

When we are young, it doesn’t take a lot of money to have a good time with our friends. Hanging out watching a ball game, going to Happy Hour at a local bar for the free snacks and cheap drinks or having a barbeque of hot dogs and hamburgers in the backyard constituted a good time.

But does all that have to change when one person in the friendship gets a promotion, an inheritance or marries well?

A Level Playing Field

When we make friends, we tend to make them with people who are in the same socio-economic group as we are. They may be neighbors, co-workers in the same department, or friends who majored in the same career as you did while in college. They hang out in the same places you do.

As time goes by, life brings many changes. Many friendships can survive a new marriage or the challenges that parenthood brings. Spending time with a new spouse or the new baby permits you to be together, just in a different manner. You can carve out time to be together without additional people, although that may not be as often as in the past. Many friendships have survived these life changes.

But when money is the game changer, many friendships falter.

"The lack of money is the root of all evil." Mark Twain

Personal Essays About Relationships and Money

It happens to everybody

Money Changes Everything: Twenty-two Writers Break the Final Taboo--How Money Transforms Families, Tests Marriages, Destroys Friendships, and Sometimes Manages to Make People Happy
Amazon Price: $19.00 $4.10 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 4, 2016)
It isn't something that is talked about money shifts and changes relationships with the people in our lives. In this thought provoking book of personal stories, each author shares what
money-or lack of it-did to change their personal relationships.

Cyndi Had it Right

Money Changes Everything

Feelings of Guilt and Jealousy

Whether or not you have the money or are the person who lacks it, both parties can have feelings of guilt. For the person who now has more disposable income to spend, she may have guilt about being more successful than her friends. This guilt may translate into picking up the check more often when they are out together, treating friends to vacations, or not talking about a new car or new house because it doesn’t seem right to do that in front of a friend who has less.

For the person who is lacking extra funds, it is a natural human emotion to feel jealous at your friend’s good fortune, especially if she did nothing to earn it other than marry well or inherit the wealth. It doesn’t seem fair.

Even if the financial good fortune comes as the result of hard work and dedication and not luck, it still stings. It is a sharp reminder that perhaps we have not met our own financial goals, and that makes one feel a sense of failure.

This stings even more when you, as a parent, cannot give your child the things your friends can provide for their kids.  You may have to say no to dance lessons or travel soccer because the expenses connected to these activities are cost prohibitive.  There is no family vaction to Disney, just a weekend at the beach.   Ordering pizza is considered a luxury while others go out for family meals several times a week.

If your friend and you can handle an honest dialogue about the changes, then have one. If you continue to feel jealous of your friend’s better financial situation, it will only weaken the bonds of your relationship. Are you willing to lose this person over money and your lack of it?

Friends With Money

A Movie on This Topic

Friends With Money
Amazon Price: $0.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 4, 2016)
This movie explores four very different friends, all who have different amounts of money, and how it effects their lives.

Interests Begin to Differ

Once upon a time your friend and you scoured the clearance racks together at the back of big department stores, trying to score the latest fashion at the lowest price. Now she can afford to buy everything at full retail price and wants you to go shopping with her in front of the store, helping her select which Marc Jacobs bag to match her Juicy Couture sweatsuit for her week long Mexican Riviera cruise.

Is it more than you can handle?

A favorite couple that your spouse and you socialized with at bars and low end chain restaurants back in your younger years now only wants to dine in upscale restaurants that are not in your budget.

Do you make excuse like you cannot get a babysitter? Do you decline their offers to get together so often that eventually they just stop asking to see you?

Can This Friendship Be Saved?

"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down." Oprah Winfrey

If you decide to be open an honest about your feelings with your friend, prepare for some fallout. After all, your friend may not have changed at all, but your perception of your friendship. Maybe your friend still likes to bargain shop-have you asked her to join you on this kind of shopping trip?

If you cannot afford the five star dinner out, have you thought of inviting your friend over for dinner? You are still getting together, just in a way that makes the playing field more even.

And if your friends do not want to shop for sale items or eat at your home, then maybe money did change them. If that is the case, it may be time to just let the friendship end. But at least you know you tried to salvage it.