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The Richer Your Friends, The More It Will Cost You...
Old 08-30-2009, 07:56 AM   #1
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The Richer Your Friends, The More It Will Cost You...

Have any of you had to discourage friendships because of significant (2-3X) differences in spending between your household and the friend? Yes, it's sad, but we've had to do it.

One couple in particular, who we became good friends with, has been on an increasing expense trajectory over the years while we've been on a decreasing expense trajectory. The gap has become so wide that we're uncomfortable hanging out with them as often as we used to. While they're expanding/remodeling their house (literally almost doubling sq footage and lavishly appointing) we're decluttering and looking forward to buying a smaller house. While we've cut back on grocery/dining out, they still want to go to the best restaurants and they keep joining more and more monthly wine clubs (not commenting on their drinking at all, just their huge wine budget). They buy more and more toys, we are more and more unlikely to buy toys now than ever. And both couples are perfectly happy with how they are evolving. So where we used to see them at least once/week, we've deliberately but subtly spaced out to about once/month now, and I suspect it will continue to decline. Again, I know it's sad, but has to be done, unfortunately the title adage seems very true to us. Friends do drift apart, money can be one of the reasons.
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Old 08-30-2009, 08:11 AM   #2
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Kind of, I've never had to discourage a close friendship but I have had to discourage some distant friends/acquaintances.

Although none of my friends are really into expensive restaurants and stuff, I am a runner and occasionally will sign up to run a 5k, 10k or half marathon road race (usually 2 x per year). The entry fees range from $25 for a 5k up to $60-$70 for a half marathon. I have some runner friends that I will run the road races with, and some seem to want to sign up for every race out there every weekend. I don't mind twice a year just for kicks and to stay motivated for running but spending ~ $40-$50 every weekend (and sometimes involving travel to the race location, so more $$) is a bit much for me. I've had to discourage those acquaintances.
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Old 08-30-2009, 08:31 AM   #3
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You have different interests. That is natural and happens all the time. That life.
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Old 08-30-2009, 10:39 AM   #4
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I agree with Cattusbabe. If you regard it as a different interest, it is only logical that you might not have much in common with them and the friendship might wane. While they are talking about which is the best optional equipment on a Lexus SUV, you might prefer to talk about whether any grocery stores take double coupons these days.
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Old 08-30-2009, 10:50 AM   #5
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I think it is often more about the shift in priorities, like Cattusbabe and W2R said.

We have friends with school age children who just don't put the same emphasis on our friendship as we do. It is sad, and I'm sure when the crumb-crunchers leave the nest they will be waaay more interested in hanging out with us, but we want friends now, you know?

Different life experiences cause us all to narrow the field, and I'm sure that spending priorities fall into that same category. It is sad, though, and I miss the folks we've lost to child raising and those we've lost to upward mobility.
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Old 08-30-2009, 11:23 AM   #6
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All right, but whats more difficult ..... keeping friends with lots more or less money than you?
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Old 08-30-2009, 11:36 AM   #7
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You have different interests. That is natural and happens all the time. That life.
I've come to the same conclusion, but it somehow seems sad when your interests are essentially the same and it's purely how extravagantly you indulge them that's the only real difference...
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Old 08-30-2009, 11:39 AM   #8
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I have that experience in my own family. My BIL likes expensive restaurants. When making plans for dinner we told him that his favorite was beyond our budget, he offered to pick up the tab. The next time we dined out with them, at a mid-price restaurant, my sister loudly asked if they were picking up our tab again. We never dined with them again, or socialized for that matter.

Need I say that their wealth was inherited from his family, and it is substantial.
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Old 08-30-2009, 11:47 AM   #9
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Brat: Im sure Ive misunderstood your post.....Was it your sister, really, the one that made such comment...?
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:03 PM   #10
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Yes, my sister!!!

She wasn't like that as a kid, but now she is insufferable. My daughter thinks she has low self esteem but I think she has just gotten mean (this is not the only example of her thoughtlessness).
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:05 PM   #11
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I've come to the same conclusion, but it somehow seems sad when your interests are essentially the same and it's purely how extravagantly you indulge them that's the only real difference...
Yes I agree it's sad. For now it sounds y'all are drifting apart. But, then again at some point you may drift back together.
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:18 PM   #12
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Many of our closest friends are older and richer. They drive luxury cars and live in large houses located in exclusive neighborhoods, but they have remained simple, unfussy people and we don't need the feel to keep up with them.
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:37 PM   #13
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We fell into something similar when our kids were very young. The eldest son went to a church pre-school and all of us loved the place so much that we kept him there when it came time to enroll in 1st grade. We did not attend the church associated with the school, nor did most of the other parents, but there were many opportunities for parents to get to know each other. Eventually we began to socialize with a group and for several years we were close.

They were a great group to hang out with, as long as you didn't get too close. Unfortunately we didn't figure that out until it we were in deep.

They all made a lot of money at their jobs or in their businesses. But none of them were close to being rich and just about everything they brought in went right out again to finance their affluent lifestyles. I don't think any of them had any real retirement plan. But the differences in spending weren't a problem because we chose to do things we could afford and declined to participate in the rest.

It was nice to hang out with a group of people who had very pleasant public personalities and could afford to do some of the same things we wanted to do. But eventually we became close to the "inner circle" and we started to see how desperate they really were about money and how people perceive them. We started to back off, and when we finally transferred our kids to public schools we lost touch.

I think the thing that soured us on the group is that they all figured out that my net worth was greater than any of theirs, but that I didn't spend like they did. The offers to participate in business ventures started to come our way. While they were all very successful in their core business or employment, when they tried to branch out it became obvious how little they really knew about making money. But they believed because they had made a lot of money doing "X" that it meant they could do just as well in "Y" or "Z". A casual glance at the proposals made that very clear. I wish I could have gotten into some of the "X" things, but there was no opportunity.

The real rift between us and the group came when one of the more desperate tried to sell us on some cockamamie investment and made the pitch to my wife. She, who is not the shrewdest finance person around, saw how stupid it was and declined. "But don't you want to have some money saved up for retirement?" When she said, "Oh, we've already got that taken care of", he was so pissed he turned purple and had to leave the room. That, and the fact that I didn't participate in a restaurant partnership that had failure written all over it (while they all lost money), sort of made it clear that we weren't their kind of people.

The upside of our experiences are that we did meet some really rich people through that group (mostly charity fundraiser things) and I learned the difference between affluent lifestyle and lifestyles of the rich and famous. I live in the "okay" subdivision that is right next door to the super-affluent subdivisions (where the kitchen is bigger than my whole house). Every day when I drive through them to take kids to and from school I'm not struck by jealousy or feelings of inferiority, because I know the dark side to so many of them. While I may salivate when I am in traffic behind a Maybach or Maserati, it's only because i dig really cool cars, and not because I'm jealous of the driver. I wouldn't trade my 10-year-old Chevy lifestyle for that guy's because I have a good idea what goes on inside that life.
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Old 08-30-2009, 01:08 PM   #14
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Yes, my sister!!!

She wasn't like that as a kid, but now she is insufferable. My daughter thinks she has low self esteem but I think she has just gotten mean (this is not the only example of her thoughtlessness).
Wow - too bad! Tough to have such attitude in the family.

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Old 08-31-2009, 08:49 AM   #15
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My small circle of friends runs the financial gamut as far as income and spending patterns go. Higher income = high spenders. Lower income, we know both high and low spenders.
We are medium income but cheapskates to the max. So we are finding that our friends who want to do things like go play bingo, eat at high end restaurants, or shop for the sake of it are disappearing.
One in particular gave me some grief about our cruise, as in "You spent THAT much and you can't even go out to dinner with us?"
No clue about delayed gratification (saving up for a year for a big ticket vs spending merrily all year).
We are happy to just order a pizza or BBQ and bring a dish and sit around and shoot the breeze. Our lower income, lower spenders are right in tune with that.
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Old 08-31-2009, 08:58 AM   #16
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I have that experience in my own family. My BIL likes expensive restaurants. When making plans for dinner we told him that his favorite was beyond our budget, he offered to pick up the tab. The next time we dined out with them, at a mid-price restaurant, my sister loudly asked if they were picking up our tab again. We never dined with them again, or socialized for that matter.

Need I say that their wealth was inherited from his family, and it is substantial.
The right answer would have been to pick a restaurant that was more affordable.
Sorry your sister was so insensitive.
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Old 08-31-2009, 09:32 AM   #17
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My father's side has some real show-off types as was my Dad (I wasn't raised with him, but with my frugal mother). You know, the types that say you just must have the latest thing to wear despite the ridiculous cost for a trend/fad? I didn't so much as cut them out as avoid shopping with them at all. They just get too obnoxious insisting I should purchase something that I felt was out-of-line. Of course, these are the same relatives that filed bankruptcy and lost everything during the downturn in the '80's, too. Hmm...still wonder if they learned anything from that?
As far as friends, I have cut people out over the years that wanted to blow too much money on eating out or drinking or just got pushy about what I should buy with my own money (as in, you must build out a new wing on your house). I just had no desire to keep up with them on this, and attempted to find others more my style. We're all probably happier for it. Sad but true.
I do know that I love being pampered by a guy, but, if I notice he overspends consistently, he's put on the no-potential/no-future list. Who needs to lose it all due to a spendthrift mate?
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Old 08-31-2009, 09:50 AM   #18
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I guess I'm still at that stage in life where most friends or acquaintances are at my level of income or below it. Some of my peers are single income families with a stay at home mom, so they are squeezed. Some are still in school or just finishing and just now getting their first real jobs (the PhD's mainly). Some are working their way through a low paid post med school residency program.

Close friends that we hang out with regularly have similar values, so we have similar outlooks on life, similar attitudes on spending etc. So I guess we have managed to inadvertently select friends that aren't really high spenders. A lot of social time is spent at one another's house (ordering pizza, potluck, simple stuff).

The closest that we come to spending a lot of money due to high-spending friends is the occasional friend of ours that is a young single professional that just got a nice high paying job, and they blow every penny they make and then some. They usually rent or share a place with one or more other roommates, and have low expenses otherwise. Hence they have tons of disposable income that they quickly blow every week. Going out for a bite to eat and a few drinks with them quickly turns into a $50-75 evening for a couple hours of hanging out. Not really worth it in my opinion, especially since I don't really like loud smokey environments particularly if I'm trying to maintain a conversation and catch up with old friends.
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:06 AM   #19
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A number of our friends are not employed at the moment, so socializing has become closer and more casual (potluck & BYOB parties) which I enjoy immensely. Restaurants & sports pubs are fine, but home gatherings are better!Football games are back in season, so will see the group regularly in DBF's "dirty basement" - lots of fun to come!
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Old 08-31-2009, 11:03 AM   #20
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I never really have felt a 'need' to distance myself from friendships.
As others have said, if interests become different, it is just natural for the friendship to drift apart to one extent or another.
If thier spending is causing you discomfort, and you still have similar interests and enjoy being around them, I think taking a hard look at WHY you are allowing your own discomfort to cause you to feel a need to distance yourself.
Regarding your sister's behavior, I am very very sorry to hear about that. I hope she finds a 'happier' place. I would have died if a relative of mine had an outburst like that
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