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?
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?