We’ve all had that friend. You know the one.
When the dinner bill comes, they severely underestimate their share (let alone account for tax and tip). You spot them $10 here and $20 there, yet they always “forget” to pay you back.
But you let it slide every time. After all, what’s a few bucks among good friends?
That used to be your attitude, anyway. Lately, your desire for a person’s company has a perfect negative correlation to how much of their crap you are required to put up with. You are, in fact, too old for this shit.
So here’s how to deal with that friend who makes you feel more like a bank than their buddy — without killing the relationship.
The great thing about friends (real friends — not the people you pretend to like out of various social obligations) is that you can tell them the truth and they’ll still be your friend. You’re not doing anyone any favors by pretending your pal’s poor money etiquette doesn’t bother you.
So the next time they leave you hanging with the bill, be up front and tell them how much they owe right then and there. Add that you’re pretty strapped for cash as well and can’t afford to cover them. Consistently push back rather than ignore the behavior and eventually, they’ll get it.
And if this honesty does cause a rift in your relationship, it’s probably time to reevaluate whether you two shared a real friendship at all.
Find cheap/free things to do.
A novel idea, right? As much as you’re annoyed by your pal’s perpetual brokeness, they likely feel pressured to keep up with the group financially, too. That’s a tough spot to be in, and as a friend, you should find ways to spend quality time together that don’t force your buddy into yet another awkward situation.
Fortunately, another great thing about friends is that all you really need is each other’s company to have an awesome time.
Check your local weekly for low-cost and free events such as concerts, art exhibits, and movie screenings. Have a picnic at the beach. Go for a hike. Get dressed up, pretend you’re rich, and hop from one open house to the next while eating all their snacks along the way.
Consider it a gift.
When your friend does ask for money, and you feel comfortable parting with the cash, treat it as a gift. Loaning money turns a personal relationship into one of business, which opens the door for guilt and resentment on both sides, especially if the borrower isn’t able to pay up.
It’s your choice whether or not you want to support your friend financially — and it’s perfectly fine if you do. Keep in mind, however, that you can’t expect things to change if you continue to enable the situation.
Friendship is something that only becomes more precious as you grow older; it can be tempting to over-compromise in order to avoid conflict. But true friendship is also built on honesty and desire to make each other happy, so don’t be afraid to share your feelings in a caring but straightforward manner.
And if your own financial goals are jeopardized in order to keep the peace between you and a broke friend, that friendship probably isn’t worth it in the first place.