We may often find ourselves in a situation where we have to spend money for social-related activities. Birthdays, bridal shower, wedding gifts, graduation and the rest of the never-ending celebrations. Even if we’re on a tight budget, we can’t possibly come to our good friend’s birthday, right? And it won’t be polite not to bring a gift.
Apart from special occasions, there are regular activities that require extra spending. Luncheon with high school friends, Friday night out, after work karaoke, coffee shop meetings. Turning down these invitations or refusing to chip in would make our friends cringe when most of us want to look good to our friends.
Especially in Asian countries, giving is still the most prominent love language. For example, you might be familiar with bringing home food or other trinkets after visiting a friend’s house (and have their parents at home). Vice versa, if someone is visiting your house, it is not deemed proper if your guest leaves your house with nothing in their hands.
You may also be familiar with the mandatory ‘envelopes’ (filled with cash, not congratulatory letter) that guests must bring to weddings, even though you would still be allowed to enter the party if you don’t bring an envelope, you won’t be able to take the judging stares from other guests or the reception.
Even when our friends know the status of our personal finances, they don’t always remember to put that in consideration as they invite the whole gang for a fancy lunch. They don’t always remember (or realize!) that a YOLO lifestyle sometimes isn’t budget-friendly.
In an effort to be “a good friend” we find it hard to say no to our friends’ requests even if it cost us more than we are supposed to. If we don’t pull a brake to this, we may find ourselves drowning in debt.
It is only ironic when a grad student with no income regularly agrees on a catch-up dinner with friends who have jobs. In-between lively chats and hilarious jokes, this student is silently nervous about the bill, while her friends seemed not to care. Even when the bill is split, it’s still out of the one-meal budget for the student. But it’ll be too embarrassing to admit that you can’t afford it, so you’d just pay and try to get some loans for the rest of the week.
It’s hard to do both: trying to catch up with your social life and keep your expenses in check. But you should keep in mind that your survival is the number one priority. What’s the point of “being a good friend” by throwing a birthday bash (because all your friends do so) if you get kicked out of your apartment because you’ve overdue your rent for months?
Friends should not be the source of our financial worries. If you find yourself in a situation where your “friends” couldn’t understand your financial situation or even label you as stingy when they know you just simply couldn’t afford something, then you might consider them as just “acquaintances”.
Don’t feel bad for yourself just because you’re “the friend who makes less than the others.” Everybody has different skills, priorities and simply different fortunes.
Be honest about your financial situation and be more conscious before agreeing to an invitation or request. Make sure that not only you can afford it, but also if it’s worthwhile.
What’s the point of coming all the way downtown to attend a baby shower of a college classmate you’re not even a good friend with? You don’t know her very well and all the effort you put in will only result in small chit-chats, which you can get anywhere including when you meet a client at work!
What’s the point of appearing to be a good friend, when you’re not good on yourself?