I have a friend who doesn’t earn much money at his job. I know this because he’s fairly open about his expenses, and of course I love to talk about money too, so from time to time we’ve talked about how we manage our money, what our big expenses are, and what we’re cutting out of our budget. We’re both pretty frugal and that’s part of the reason why we get along so well. My friend will often bow out of expensive get togethers with our group of friends without making a big deal of it, but I suspect the reason is often money.
Should I pay for my poor friend?
I debate this constantly. Should I offer to pick up his tab? I’ve seen updates on his Facebook page that said “The spending has got to stop.” I feel bad that he has to miss out on some of our get togethers because of money, when we could spot him $10 or $20 and it wouldn’t have a big impact on our budget. (Though we are trying to eat out as infrequently as we can!) I could do it in a discreet way, or even offer to take him out when it’s just the two of us. For instance, what if I said, “I’d like to treat you to lunch. What do you say?” Do I need a reason – like a birthday or some special milestone? I’m not talking about lavish gifts, just $10 or $20 bucks here and there.
Is it ok if one person in a friendship treats the other – without it being reciprocated?
I mean, there have got to be friendships were the money is super lopsided. (This isn’t my situation exactly, but I’m sure it exists.) Does the person who makes tons more money automatically pick up the tab? Seems the older I get the more income disparities I have in my relationships as some friends pursue high-earning careers, while others go into teaching, social work, assistant positions, and other relatively low-paid jobs. You don’t stop being friends with someone because their lifestyle is different than yours – so how to you handle the price of getting together? Splitting the bill among equal earners is tricky enough as these ladies discovered.
I’ve heard the advice, and probably given it, that when getting together with friends on a budget, it’s best to offer free and low-cost options, like a trip to the beach, a hike, or backyard playdate. But it’s hard to ALWAYS stick to that guideline. Plus, it’d be nice to enjoy a special treat with him, like a shopping trip or dinner out. I wouldn’t think twice about treating my little brother or sister, so why is it so thorny to treat a friend?
Would offering to pay for him damage our relationship?
That’s what’s really at stake. If I say something, then I can never take it back. I have worried in the past that money has harmed my friendships. He is a good friend of mine, and I’m only trying to help. Still I wonder if I should keep quiet, knowing that he knows best what he can and can’t afford, and trying to change that isn’t going to help long term. So what do you think?