Your Friends and Your Finances: For Better or For Worse?

by Joe Plemon on April 15, 2011

Correct me if I am wrong, but I have a hunch that you and your friends have similar incomes and spending habits.  It makes sense: you eat at the same restaurants, enjoy the same recreation, belong to the same organizations and maybe even vacation together.  You probably shop at the same stores and spend similar amounts at those stores.

I am also guessing that you live in similar neighborhoods and serve similar food and drink when you entertain.  Am I right?

How do your friends affect your finances?

If I am right (or even if I am not right), I challenge you to ask yourself this question, “How do my friends affect my finances?”  If they overspend, do you do the same?  Do you acquiesce to lunch invitations, attending a sporting event or taking in a concert when you know you can’t afford it?   If you speak up and say, “Not today. Our ‘eating out’ envelope is empty”, do your friends understand or do they try to twist your arm?  Do you think your friends are more of a positive influence or a negative influence in your life?

Another challenge

I know …  two challenges in one post … but this one is similar to the first one.  Ask yourself if this adage,  “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”  (Proverbs 27:17) describes you and your friends.   Stated differently, do your friends sharpen you or dull you?  Are you challenged by their lives to live a better life, or do you find yourself compromising your values to keep harmony in your friendship?  In the same way, do you believe your life is a positive or negative motivator for them?

What to do?

OK, Joe“, you may be saying, “I am convinced that my friends are dragging me down.  So what should I do?  Just dump them?”  Well…maybe, but not yet.   You may eventually need different friends, but here is a different tact: begin challenging them and ask them to challenge you.  You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that they are also wanting to be sharpened, but were reticent about broaching the subject.

More than finances

Of course this is about more than finances; true friends should invoke mental sharpness in each other and bring out the best in each other. They should stimulate thought in each other and should be mature enough to challenge your thoughts without attacking you. After all, sharpening can be painful, but true friends will take the risk.

In the movie “As Good As It Gets”, while on a date, Helen Hunt asks Jack Nicholson to give her a compliment. The obsessive compulsive germophobe pauses, slowly wrings his hands and finally utters, “After I met you, I started taking my pills.

With furrowed forehead, she responds, “I don’t get how that is a compliment for me.

Jack smiles broadly, “You make me want to be a better man.

How about you?

Are your friends better people because of your influence? Do they make you better? As you become the iron in others’ lives you will discover what real friendship is all about. As they become iron in your life, you will find yourself growing as a person. You will become more creative, more motivated and more alive.

And I have a hunch that your finances will improve.

Readers: How do your friends influence your finances?   How do you influence them?  Any changes needed?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim @ Faith and Finance April 15, 2011 at 8:52 am

Great post Joe! My friends are mostly in the financial/business world, and they’re pretty frugal. Having friends who understand your envelope system or maxed out food budget makes it much much easier to avoid overspending.

As I read this, I couldn’t help but think how much influence (outside of finances) that friends have on each other. It’s always a good reminder to try to be a positive example to those you’re closest to.

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joeplemon April 15, 2011 at 11:09 am

Tim,
Yes, having friends who have a similar financial mindset to yours really helps. And, of course, the influence goes much deeper than simply finances.

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krantcents April 15, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Our friends are similar, we do a lot of things together over the years. We vacation together when the children were small. Now as mature adults, we vacation every other year together. I think we influence each other regarding finances.

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Lance April 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

Nice article !

I have definitely noticed, especially as my friends and I have gotten older together, that we are more open to learning from and sharing our skills with each other as opposed towhen we were younger and each thought twe knew everything ! We have also grown more open to sharing our lean times with each other and being more understanding of what that means because we all go through it some time or other and in those times an understanding support base certainly helps to keep you sane.

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Edwin @ Cash The Checks April 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Friends sometimes hang out by going to the mall and you feel left out if you’re the only one not buying something.

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joeplemon April 20, 2011 at 9:41 am

@krantcents,
Keeping close friends over a long span of time is great. They must be very special to you. You mentioned that you do influence each others’ finances…hopefully in a positive way!

@Lance,
Thanks. Isn’t it amazing how, when we were younger, we thought we knew it all? How naive! I suppose we thought we had to keep up a false front so others wouldn’t learn how much we didn’t know. Growing older is great because those false fronts become so…false. We therefore become more real and vulnerable.
Wouldn’t it be great if people could learn that lesson while they are still young?

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