Here’s How To Navigate Expensive Friendships Without Going Broke


We all have that friend: the one with whom you spend too much money every time you hang out. This friend wants to get a weekly blowout or pedicure with you. Maybe this friend likes to choose higher-end restaurants when you two go out to dinner, and maybe this friend doesn’t realize that he or she had a pricier entree than you when asking you to split the check. How are you supposed to navigate your friendship if you can’t afford the outings? We have you covered.

1. Don’t be afraid to say no.

You’ve likely spent enough time with this friend to know what you’re getting into when you say yes to an event. Be assertive and say no if you can’t afford to go, and if you still go knowing that you can’t afford it, you kind of have to blame yourself for that one. Saying no can feel scary, but it’s also fairly empowering. Remember: if this person is a true friend, he or she will not give you shit if you just say no.

2. Be the first to make plans.

Life hack: you do have the opportunity to make the plans and set the agenda. Instead of letting your friend take the reins, jump in and coordinate a less expensive meet-up, like a night out at your local dive that has $3 well drinks, or a dinner at a good, but reasonable, place. You’ll also look like a star friend by being the one to coordinate some time together.

3. Swap nights out with wine nights at home.


Similarly to our second point, you can take the initiative to plan a cozy night at home instead of a pricey night out on the town. Just to do some math, the choice could be between a $30 dinner and $30 worth of drinks ($60 per person) or a few bottles of cheap wine and takeout for $40 total ($20 per person). There are ways to have a night in without compromising on fun.

4. Speak up for yourself.

Here’s the deal: at the end of the day, you know what you’re able to afford and what you can’t. You have to have enough money to live, so you should never feel pressured into complacency if your friend insists on your presence. Stand up for yourself and explain the situation, saying that you’re not in a place to spend that kind of money.

If you do decide to go to dinner with this friend, for example, be prepared. Splitting the check is one of those things that can feel awkward, especially in a group of people with different lifestyles. Have cash on hand and tell the entire table in advance that you’ll be paying for your meal separately. Make sure that when the bill comes and you’re calculating your share, you account for gratuity and tip so that you’re not leaving your group hanging to pay the rest of your portion.

5. Take notice how your friend reacts when you explain your situation.

Above all, you should tune into your friend’s reaction to you saying no, paying only for your (probably smaller) share at an event or trying to plan inexpensive meet-ups. Is this person understanding? Is he or she frustrated or annoyed with you? If you’re noticing that your friend is responding negatively to your honesty, take note for the future.

(And if you are that friend, we still love you.)