I got an email today with a question about budgeting/saving/paying down debt and its possible impact on friendships:
So I have this friend who is a great guy and everything, but is obsessed with paying down his credit card debt. Now, that’s all well and good, but he seems to be willing to sacrifice his friendships in order to do this. He won’t go out to eat to celebrate friends’ birthdays, yet somehow he finds money to spend on fishing gear. Also, his wife doesn’t seem to have any say in money matters, other than she is not allowed to spend money. I have invited her to hang out several times, both on excursions that cost money ($4 movie matinees) and ones that are free (trips to the beach), yet she always turns me down. A mutual friend actually asked me if I don’t get along with her. Should I say something? How do you budget friendship?
I think I’ll start out with my view on this, but I encourage others to weigh in. I’d like to help her figure out what to do (and what not to do!).
Money matters are always tricky topics…unless you’re among friends who love talking personal finance, it’s pretty much off the table. I think if I had been asked by the guy in question, I would say that he should let it be known that he’s going to be laying low for a while. When you’re on a tight budget, you have to consider how often you want to go out, vs. how much money you can spend.
Since I don’t know the whole story, it would be wrong of me to assume certain things about this guy and his wife. It’s possible he’s really pumped about paying off his debt, and is doing anything he can to reach that. I find it odd that the wife is seemingly not allowed to go for free trips. It’s unclear if he has budgeted his fishing gear spending, or just buys it whenever he feels like it.
I’m not sure if the woman who wrote in should do anything, or if it’s really a case of “none of your business”. If the wife was my friend, I’d want to make sure things were okay for her.
So, my advice to the questioner: Tread lightly. Money is a tough topic, and it’s possible broaching the subject might create a rift between you and your friends. I’d reach out to the wife, and see if she wanted to vent about things.
So, my fellow personal finance folks, what do you think? How do you budget friendship? What advice would you give the woman who wrote in?