Our friends are some of the most important people in our lives. But have you ever considered the impact they have on your finances?
Some friends can suck money from your wallet, even if they don't intend to. And because they're your friends, you may not even notice. Consider whether yours fall into any of these categories of friends that cost you money.
The Bad Association
He's always getting in trouble, and you're often dragged in his wake. He's the guy who shows up with weed at parties, or gets into fights at clubs. You can try your best to be on the straight and narrow, but just being around him can put you at risk for legal trouble. And even if your criminal record stays clean, your social media profile might not. Think you're due for a raise at work? You better hope the boss doesn't see the drunken Instagram pic your friend tagged you in.
He's more than just cheap. He's a moocher. He's always asking to borrow money. He raids your fridge, and if you go out to eat, he always insists on paying just half the check — even if he ordered more. He wants you to spot him his share of the monthly rent and promises to pay you back — but you know he won't. He'll even "borrow" books and DVDs that you'll never see again. You need to draw a hard line on what you'll do for this friend. Otherwise, you'll both end up suffering financially.
The Awful Entrepreneur
She always has a new idea for something that will change the world, and all she needs is some money to get it off the ground. Maybe it's a new mobile app to help you brush your teeth, or a new restaurant specializing in gourmet scrambled eggs. You admire her entrepreneurial spirit, but the truth is that she has neither the business sense nor the dedication to get rich from any of these schemes. It may be tempting to lend money to friends for their business ventures, but don't let your friendship skew your assessment of whether the investment makes good financial sense.
The Big Spender
If you go to a baseball game together, they insist on getting tickets behind home plate instead of in the bleachers. When you suggest a weekend of camping, they push for a week of skiing in Aspen. Perhaps this friend is wealthy and has a good chunk of disposable income. Or, perhaps they just love to spend and hate to save. Either way, keeping up with their lifestyle is making you go broke. You like this friend because you enjoy his or her company, but you must politely find a way to spend time with them on more frugal terms.
This month, he's running in a marathon to raise money for cancer research. Next month, he's seeking donations for a local homeless shelter. He's a generous soul — and that's great! But it's important that you don't feel pressured to donate every time he comes around. You must find a way to gently tell your friend that you can't pony up cash every time he's supporting something. Keep in mind that it's possible to support his cause without giving money. For instance, consider volunteering your time to the charity in question, instead.
I had an old friend from college who would plan parties and outings for the most innocuous of reasons. While most of us grew older and let our birthdays pass with little fanfare, he was still planning annual trips to Las Vegas well into his 30s. His over-celebrating was often excessive, but the truth is that this is something many of us fall prey to. We celebrate the new job, the promotion, the graduation from pre-school. We reward ourselves with a dinner out just because "we've had a tough week." Resist the urge to celebrate every single life event, and politely beg out of those outings to which you've been invited.
The Extravagant Gift Giver
It's Christmas Day and you bought gifts for all of the people on your list. But then a friend arrives with expensive items for you and your entire family. Now you're on the hook to reciprocate, even if you feel like you're not close enough with this person to be exchanging gifts every year. This is a tricky situation, as it hardly seems civil to complain about a friend's generosity. But there are polite ways to nudge the person away from giving gifts. If they still insist on giving, reciprocate by inviting them to dinner or finding a tasteful but inexpensive item.
The Spending Enabler
So you're on the fence about whether to buy the 45-inch flat screen TV or the 70-inch monster. On one shoulder is the little Frugal Angel, telling you to buy the smaller one, or even pass on buying altogether. One the other is your friend, telling you how much you deserve the behemoth. She may mean well, but she's always pushing you to spend more. "Go for it," she'll say. "You work hard. Don't be afraid to spoil yourself." Never listen to the Enabling Devil.
The Early Adopter
This is the guy who stands in line at the Apple Store every time a new phone is released. He's the first to get every new gadget or technology out there. Hanging out with this friend can make you feel pressured to keep up. But keep in mind that Early Adopters rarely get the best deals. Don't let your friend's love of the shiny new thing influence your own buying decisions.
With this friend, a casual game of poker always seems to turn into a scene from Rounders. His "friendly" fantasy football league just offers another chance for big chunks of money to change hands. He's always betting on something, and all too often you find yourself opening up your wallet to join the fun. Resist the urge to bet big bucks on things every time you hang out with this friend. You'll be better off financially (and your blood pressure may improve as well.)