When you're a teen, everyone in your circle is on a pretty level playing field. We were all connected to our friends because of our school, and we were all at the same school because we lived in the same town in similar neighborhoods. Where I grew up, my friends and I pretty much all had the same things. There were never discussions about houses, jobs, or salaries, because, well, we didn't have any of those things. We all stayed friends through college, but then as adulthood crept up on us...things got weird.
Money changes people.
Money changes friendships.
My husband and I have a group of friends that we're very close with. We've all been friends for years and hang out pretty regularly. We've all been through high school and college and post-college life together. We're all married. We're all adults. Those things, we still have in common. But there is one stark difference these days between all of us that makes dinner and drinks uncomfortable: Money.
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We're no longer on an even playing field. We're no longer all on the same page. We're all making different salaries and living in different towns and all have different economic statuses. While some of our friends want to venture on a weekend winery trip, my husband and I are going over our monthly budget to see if that's even possible. While our friends are buying $500 hairdryers and saying how it's a "deal," we're on Amazon scouring for savings.
Some of our friends are now making six-figures plus and living different, more affluent lives. And it's creating a big wedge. There are two reasons for the wedge: Cash flow and insecurities.
First, there is the fact that there are now some activities that my husband and I just can't afford to do. We can't take trips on a whim. We can't go to birthday dinners at the most expensive steak house in town. Many times, we have gone to dinner and we're expected to split the bill evenly, even when we ordered much less. Try having that conversation. We'd rather not go and avoid it altogether and we miss out on a lot of hangouts this way.
Second, I'd be naive to not chalk some of the wedge to our insecurities. If I'm being honest, we let the income difference get on our nerves. We let those talks of looking at million dollar houses and trips to Europe and expensive cars get to us. We let it make us feel bad about where we are and how we're doing at life. We're allowing ourselves to feel less than and that's no one's fault but our own.
It is difficult to feel secure and certain when the people closest to you seem to be doing better than you ever will, but is it so difficult that friendships suffer?
Unfortunately, in our case, yes.
Again, money changes people. Money changes friendships. Money can truly change our lives for better or for worse. The things we once had in common with our friends go to the wayside because an influx of money, presents, new opportunities and adventures. We aren't seeing that same influx and it's making things uncomfortable. We're not giving up though! We'll keep budgeting and saving and suggesting coffee instead of steak because we love our friends and money shouldn't change that. Ultimately, we're happy for any success that anyone we love achieves; sometimes we just wish it was us.