Do you talk about money with friends?
Money can be a difficult subject to approach, especially if you don’t earn the same as your friends.
For some friends, financial differences can even lead to a relationship breakdown. A new poll* reveals that more than one-in-ten (13%) have lost a friendship over issues with money, with many blaming the fall-out on unpaid loans or bragging about wages.
Nearly a fifth (19%) of 18 to 24-year-olds have lost a friendship this way.
Pensions advice specialists, Portafina, carried out research into Britain’s attitudes towards money and friendships and found that earning more or less than your friends matters most to younger generations (21% of 18 to 24-year-olds) than those who are older (10% of over 55’s) – suggesting that how much we earn is less of an issue as we mature.
Despite nearly half of the nation (44%) avoiding uncomfortable situations with friends because they don’t like to talk about money, the majority of Brits (84%) think that when it comes to friendships, it shouldn’t matter whether you have more or less in your wage packet as friends should find a way to make it work. On the other hand, 16% think that although it shouldn’t matter, it does.
Almost one-in-three Brits (32%) said they actively avoid social situations where they might feel uncomfortable due to financial differences, and over a third think that they are paid less than the majority of their friends (36%).
The main reasons Brits avoid potentially awkward financial situations are because they don’t like talking about money (44%) and/or are wary of making anyone else feel uncomfortable (38%).
The top five financial scenarios with friends that make Brits uncomfortable:
- Splitting the bill at dinner (19%)
- Choosing a holiday destination/hotel (17%)
- Choosing a reasonably-priced restaurant to dine at (17%)
- Buying group birthday presents for a mutual friend (12%)
- Lending a friend money but feeling too uncomfortable to ask for it back (10%)
Martina Mercer, relationship expert for Sunday Woman Magazine, offers her advice on how to make sure your relationships don’t suffer if you do earn more or less than your friends:
“A friend earning more than you is only awkward if you make it so. True friends will not envy success and they will be genuinely happy to see you with money in your pocket. If you have a good friendship you can joke about your finances, and be open and honest about your feelings.
“I think the trouble comes when one feels they are better or worse than their friend due to their earnings, when this isn’t true at all. Earnings are not an accurate representation of character at all and someone who earns very little can be a lot happier than someone who earns a lot.
“As long as no resentment builds, and friendships are enjoyed for what they are, (where finances don’t come into it at all) there should never be a problem with one earning more than the other. If there is, there may be underlying issues and feelings of dissatisfaction with life that raises its head in jealousy, even then friends are what help in these situations. Let your friend be your sounding board. Let them help.”Martina Mercer
One way that Martina recommends handling awkward financial situations is through humour. Try to make a joke out of situations and where possible, avoid lending money to friends as this can lead to friction.
Commenting on the findings, Jamie Smith-Thompson, managing director of Portafina said:
“It’s no surprise that a lot of people are still uncomfortable with discussing money, particularly with friends. We are Brits, after all!
“What’s really positive though, is the vast majority of us think that money shouldn’t matter when it comes to friendships.
“And for anyone going away this summer with family and friends, this positive mindset makes it easier for everyone to really enjoy each other’s company. Planning ahead and discussing what you would like to do on the trip as well as sharing financial responsibilities beforehand can help everyone know where they stand. Why not set up a kitty for the food shop or for drinks on a night out? That way, there’s more chance of the finances being equal and more importantly, you can focus on making some great memories.”