If you’re a big fan of the TV series, “FRIENDS” then I’m sure you remember that one episode when Rachel, Phoebe, and Joey had an issue keeping up with their richer friends, Ross, Chandler, and Monica.

A couple of scenes in the episode had Chandler inviting the group to watch a concert for Ross’ birthday; and Monica proposing to dine in a fancy restaurant to celebrate her job promotion.

Such activities are normal for friends to do, but if it happens often enough and you don’t earn as much as your wealthy friends, the peer pressure to keep up with the pricey lifestyle would definitely put a strain in your finances and worse, in your relationship.

So how do you deal with this situation? Is it possible to really stay friends with those who are wealthier than you?

The answer is YES.

Don’t try to keep up.

As with most things, everything starts from within. In this case, you need to accept the fact that you’re not as wealthy as your friends and it’s a financial disaster waiting to happen if you try to keep up with them.

More importantly, you shouldn’t harbor jealousy. And don’t compare just to feel bad about yourself.

It’s normal to be envious at times, but don’t linger unnecessarily on that thought.

Communication is key.

Resist giving in to peer pressure.

Be honest and tell your friends straight up about your financial limitations. There’s no need to lie and make up excuses too. Just say:

“I don’t have the budget to go out this weekend.”

“The food there is too expensive for me.”

“That’s way above what I can afford.”

Don’t be a freeloader.

Never ask your friends to pay for you. Moreover, don’t use the pity card to trick them into shouldering your expenses.

If they offer to lend you money, do not accept unless you are 100% sure of when you can pay them back. Tell them the payment terms you can afford and don’t feel bad if they suddenly take back the offer.

If they’re willing to spend for you and not asking for anything in return, only accept if it’s a special occasion. Don’t take advantage of their generosity all the time.

And try to give something in return nonetheless. Buy them a small gift as a token of gratitude, or treat them to a simple meal in the future.

Suggest cheaper alternatives.

Don’t assume that your wealthier friend won’t enjoy more affordable activities.

As part of being open and honest with your communication, never be ashamed to ask if they are available for suggestions.

From the examples above, you can add something like:

“I don’t have the budget to go out this weekend. Is it okay if we just play board games at home instead?”

“The food there is too expensive for me. Can you suggest a more affordable place?”

“That’s way above what I can afford. I only have P500. Can we do something else?”

Real friends focus on the friendship, and not the finances.

Your income is not your identity.

So if your friends think of you less because of your financial limitations, then it’s okay to disconnect and find other friends who will be more accepting and understanding.

It will be difficult, but you’re always better off hanging out with friends who don’t look down on you because you earn much less than them, who don’t brag about their wealth and rub it in your face.

Be inspired by your friends.

Lastly, let the financial success of your friends serve as an inspiration.

Learn from what they do and ask for tips on how they manage their cashflow, their career or business, or even their investment portfolio.

Remember that real friends will help raise you up, and not keep you down.

Image used under Creative Commons

Fitz Villafuerte Fitz Villafuerte

Fitz Villafuerte, RFP

Fitz is the second runner up for #SINAG Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Award 2016. He is a civil engineer who decided to quit the corporate world to pursue entrepreneurship back in 2003. His blog, Ready To Be Rich, has won several accolades including the Best Business and Finance Blog at the Philippine Blog Awards. He is a Registered Financial Planner and a resource speaker for corporate and socio-civic organizations in the country, where he actively promotes financial literacy.