How to Stop Expensive Friends Pushing You Into Debt

spending freezeAre friends with expensive tastes encouraging you to spend more than you want to? I have one particular friend who always insists on going to expensive restaurants while she’s visiting. Granted, she only visits once or twice a year and I do have plenty of time to adjust my budget in preparation, but it’s still money that I wouldn’t otherwise be spending. Being someone who likes to spend as little money as possible, I still come to begrudge the expense even though it’s not a regular occurrence. For some people reading this post, the situation will be much worse. Accepting such an invitation might even be the difference between being in the red and in the black. So, how do you tackle the problem without losing the friendship? Communicate, don’t make a scene, be assertive, and take charge of the plans!

Speak up

I avoid confrontation at all costs, but even I realized that some assertiveness was needed after an incident in which a friend arranged for ten of us to dine out at a fancy restaurant and then insisted that we split the bill straight down the middle. Even though my share was much more than what I’d actually ordered, I decided to suck it up on that occasion. The next day, I took her aside and let her know that because I have to rely on my freelance payments coming through on time (or indeed, at all in some cases), these type of situations often make me very nervous about the state of my finances. Because she has a steady job that pays well, I wasn’t sure how she’d react to this. Fortunately, she was surprisingly understanding and we’ve agreed to downgrade next time she’s in town.

It may be that your friend doesn’t even realize that you’re not happy with the situation, especially if you’ve fallen into a routine over the years. If you’ve never previously objected to meeting at a specific place, he or she probably has no reason to suspect that you’re unhappy with the arrangement. Give your friend a full disclosure on the subject, and make it obvious that you want to start trying some cheaper places and you may be surprised at how easy it is to break the cycle.

Turn down invitations

Fortunately, my problem worked out fine in the end, but this may not always be the case. What should you do if your friend takes offense or refuses to back down? In this situation, you may have no choice but to start backing out of any invitations that come your way. It’s not an ideal solution, but it can sometimes be the only way to hammer the point home. If your friend realizes that a change of arrangement is the only way to get you out again, he or she may agree to put their expensive tastes on hold while you’re socializing together.

Be the first to suggest what to do

Take matters into your own hands and be the one to make the plans. That way, you can control where you eat, what entertainment you choose, and where you’ll be doing it. If your friends are snobby about it, then maybe they aren’t the best of friends, because hanging out with friends should be about who you’re with and the quality time spent together, rather than what you’re doing or where you’re eating.

If you want to change the situation, communication is going to be key. Right now, your friend probably has no idea that there is any problem, so you’re going to need to bring it to his or her attention. If you raise the point tactfully and politely, there is no reason why your friendship should be damaged by the conversation. You may even find that your friend can’t afford the expense any more either and has been keeping quiet because they don’t want to admit this, especially if they mistakenly assume that it’s not a problem for you.

By not indulging in some of the things that your friends do like eating out all the time at expensive restaurants, driving new cars, or going out every weekend, your friends and family will start to think you’re weird. That’s okay! Weird is good. Your “weirdness” is going to make you wealthy, and most likely, a lot of your friends are broke, they just try to act like they have money. If you can master the art of not caring about keeping up with the Joneses, you’ll find yourself in a much better situation financially in the future.

(photo credit: paalia)

  • Everyday Tips

    I have had this problem when traveling with my siblings, especially when we were first married.

    We started out broke, and had to go out to California for my brother’s wedding. My husband and I were happy to eat at McDonalds. But the rest of my family wanted nothing to do with that, and wanted to go to somewhat fancy sit-down restaurants for each and every meal. I made other suggestions, but I am the youngest, and was generally disregarded. It really impacted our trip, and I didn’t have the confidence to really assert myself back then.

    Now, a lot of my friends are down on their luck. If we get together, I usually just suggest a cheap lunch because I don’t want to put them in an awkward position with a more expensive dinner.

    It is definitely a difficult situation when they just want to divide the bill, and you drank water while everyone else was downing glasses of wine. I think that is a problem that will go on till the end of time!

  • Stephan

    i definitely think the first step to this kind of problem is to communicate with your friends. Ive seen it too many times where my gf complains to me after a girls night out about spending too much money but then never mentions anything to her friends. The end result- they keep spending too much and i have to hear about it!

  • David/yourfinances101

    People that are like this, in my opinion, usually do not have much concern for the feelings, or input of thers.

    Therefore, just like your first point says, you have got to stand up for yourself!
    Do not get pushed into something because “Well, I didn’t want to say anything.”

    I quit playing that game a long time ago.

    Great post!

  • Holly

    I don’t think that a true friend would want you to feel pushed into overspending…I know that if I notice that the other couple declined on appetizers, drinks, and/or desserts, I always suggest that we get separate checks (or just itemize when the bill comes) so as not to ‘force’ them to subsidize our dinner.

    There’s nothing worse than being asked to split the check after you order the salmon while your co-diners order the filet mignon and merlot. If that happens, I might ask if they would mind covering my portion of the tip.

  • lou

    Separate checks are a way of keeping everyone friendly. Just an idea about your friend from out of town, if you are in a position of being able to host a potluck dinner, that is always more fun and enjoyable than going out to an expensive place where you can’t control the quality. Of course the host ususally supplies the main course, or it is done in conjunction with one or two other close friends.

  • Sylvia Lascano

    having expensive friends can be painful especially to the wallet..its anyone’s choice who to be friends with or what they value more in getting quality experiences or achieving financial stability..i think good friends will aspire us to be better persons in all aspects without making us broke..


    i prefer to eat out instead of at other people’s homes because of the low quality food they purchase, or the state of their kitchen.