If you’re reading personal finance, early retirement, or dividend investing blogs, you’re probably living a frugal lifestyle. And you’re in the minority. Unless you’ve been lucky enough to find a group of people who share your enlightened perspective, you probably deal with a wide variety of financial views and habits in your friends. Today I’m going to start with the most difficult to deal with: The Spender.
The Spender pays full price for clothes and furniture, eats out frequently, replaces cars every few years, and has too much house. There are two types of Spenders – the one who can’t afford it, and the one who can. The one who can’t afford it is living with debt and always one paycheck away from financial ruin. The one who can afford it has a damn good job or inherited a ton of money. One is clearly in a better financial situation than the other, but both can be detrimental to your finances. Let’s look at the former today, and save the latter for another post.
I have a friend, let’s call her Amy. Amy just has to live in a $2200/month luxury apartment, needs to buy nice clothing and purses, needed a $13k engagement ring, and goes out to eat several times per week. Oh, and she wants to buy a $40k truck to replace her perfectly good car. I would estimate that she and her husband have a combined salary of roughly $100k. And they’re in debt up to their eyeballs.
The thing about Amy is that she doesn’t realize her entire life is a dire emergency. She thinks that this is just how people live. She sees other people driving expensive cars, living in nice apartments, carrying expensive purses, eating out at nice restaurants, and she assumes that she should be able to do it too. Of course that means she also thinks you should be able to do it too. So Amy is constantly inviting me to go shopping, go out to dinner, go to events with her. And it means I have to say no to her. A lot.
So how do you maintain a friendship with someone when you are constantly declining her invitations to hang out? The answer – it’s really hard. There are a few things you can try, but with a Spender like Amy, there’s no guarantee they’ll work.
- Suggest alternate outings that you know might appeal to her. If she’s an exercise junkie, suggest going for a hike. You could suggest making use of the pool at the apartment complex she’s paying way too much money to be a part of.
- Look for deals on what she wants to do. If she wants to go out to dinner, look for restaurant coupons to make the outing more affordable. If she wants to go to an event, look for discount tickets.
At the end of the day, you have to remember that you’re probably not going to able to change her ways. Amy often confides in me that she’s worried about her and her husband’s finances, but when I point out certain behaviors that they could change, I’m met with deaf ears. She knows she doesn’t want to be in debt, but she won’t give up her lifestyle. It’s like she’s just waiting for money to magically appear in her bank account.
The best you can do is protect yourself from The Spender’s influence and hope that one day she’ll see the light and follow your good example. My fiance and I are at our wits’ end with Amy and her husband. We’ve offered advice and set a good example. They don’t listen. They claim to have a desire to get out of debt, but they take no action to do so. In all honesty, it’s getting to the point where it’s putting a strain on our friendship. We frequently employ my above suggestions, but usually just wind up hearing about all the expensive things they want to buy while hanging out at their pool. It gets old. After a particularly frustrating conversation with Amy last night, my fiance told me he didn’t know how much longer he could put up with her.
It’s a shame when someone who you care so much about, who is a great person with a huge heart, is so incompatible with you. If you aren’t able to resist the temptation to adopt her lifestyle, you must stop hanging out with her immediately for your own protection. If you are, keep trying the above suggestions until you reach the point where you’re so frustrated with her poor choices that every time you see her you want to wring her neck. Then it’s probably time to take a step away from the friendship.
What do you think? Do you have any friends who are Spenders? How do you deal with them? Do their habits ever tempt you to stray from frugalism? Have you been able to help them change their lifestyle at all? Can you fight the urge to wring some sense into them? Have you been able to make such an imbalanced friendship last for the long run?