Is A Friend Sabotaging Your Budget? How To Know

18_CreativeBFF_MG_9904Photographed by Bek Andersen.
Sure, we'd all like to be earning more. But, even if that bonus check is nothing but a dream, LearnVest is here to help you make the most of what you've got — and start reaching your financial goals today.
Advertisement
Lauralynn Schueckler, 31, works for a credit counseling agency, so she knows a lot about budgets and how to stick to one. Until her friend Tara* comes around.
“She always backs me into a corner and talks me into doing things with her that I really can’t afford —like dinner every week or expensive art classes or not-so-frugal vacations,” says Schueckler. “She’s single, so she always uses the ‘I’m lonely, let’s do something!’ phrase on me. No matter how I try to say no, I always end up feeling bad and give in.”
Tara is a financial frenemy — someone who sabotages your financial budget, causing you to spend more money than you should. And, most of us have fallen victim to them at one point in our lives. Yet, as evil as they sound, most financial frenemies aren’t even aware of what they’re doing.
What Really Makes Frenemies Tick
“People asking you to join in activities that you can’t afford are typically just trying to have a good time and aren’t maliciously intending to knock you off your financial track,” says Dr. Stacia Pierce, a life coach and author of Success, Attraction, Quotes & Notes.
But, when they continue to push and bully, even after you’ve said no the first time, there’s something deeper at play in your friendship: control. “Financial frenemies are generally subconsciously seeking to have some type of control in the relationship, often to mask their own insecurities or vulnerabilities,” says Lisa Bahar, LMFT, a therapist in Dana Point, Calif. And, they will go to extreme lengths to try to get their own way, she says, often by instilling fear or putting pressure on the person they’re trying to control.
Advertisement
Still, it only becomes a problem when you don’t — or can’t — speak up for yourself. “I know that I need to be assertive and just say no.” says Schueckler. “But, I’m a total people pleaser. I go above and beyond for my friends, and that usually leads me to having no money at the end of the month.”
It’s a more common problem than you would think, says Bahar. “Saying no sounds easy, but for people who can’t, there’s an underlying fear of rejection or a need to be liked and accepted.”
If you, like Schueckler, have a hard time saying no to the financial frenemy in your life, follow these tips to keep more of your money where it belongs — in your bank account.
Create a budget. (You can do this for absolutely free in the LearnVest Money Center.) Have a written plan, so that you know how much extra money you can spend each month on fun activities with your friends, and still be able to meet your savings or financial goals, says Dr. Pierce. That way, when somebody asks you to do something, you can refer to your budget and see if you can actually afford it.
Advertisement
18_Bek_Andersen_Feyt_MG_4435aPhotographed by Bek Andersen.
Don’t just say no. If a friend is pressuring you to go to Bali, when all you can afford is a weekend in Myrtle Beach, turn it down, but explain why you’re doing so. “Let them know that you’re on a financial plan and you’re trying to save money for a house or to start a business,” says Pierce. “Or, if you’re not comfortable sharing specifics, just say you have a savings plan and this activity doesn’t fit into it.”
Suggest alternatives. Can’t afford the $100 dinner at the hot new celebrity-chef restaurant in town? “Tell your friend you’d love to spend time with them, but that perhaps you could cook together at your place for half the price,” says Pierce.
Have a frank conversation. “If you really value the friendship but constantly feel pressured to spend money, be honest with your friend,” says Pierce. Say something like: “I feel like you’re not understanding my financial goals right now. I want to spend time with you, but I can’t go out every weekend.”
Advertisement
Take a step back from the friendship. If talking doesn’t change your frenemy’s behavior, it may be time to reexamine the relationship. “You don’t have to break up with your friend,” says Pierce. “But, you can ward them off for a few weeks or months. Make your own plans and tell them you’re busy when they ask to hang out, until you can gain control of your sanity and your finances.” *Name has been changed.
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

Four years ago, my life was exactly where I wanted it: I was working as a senior editor at a major glossy magazine. My first young adult novel had just ...
After months of waiting and countless discussions about what the future holds for our favorite television characters, Shondaland shows are finally back. ...
Just after my son’s first birthday, I was on the phone with my mom, grappling over a gut-wrenching decision. I was scheduled to go on a business trip but...
Refinery29 joined the Clinton Foundation for a tour of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to get a firsthand look at the experiences of the women and girls who live ...
I get so nervous before job interviews — sweaty palms, dry mouth, butterflies in my stomach. It’s really not fun. But once I’m sitting down with the ...
Fifty percent off your purchase here. 1,000 free miles there. When it comes to credit cards, the benefits are easy to see — while the downsides are often ...
As the host of RIOT's Woke Bae, we already know comedian Phoebe Robinson is funny AF while getting serious about major issues like feminism and ...
You know what's easy? Spending money. It's the best way to get what you want right now. Except...this is not sustainable. Those little luxuries add up ...
If the new phrase for the office BFF is the "work wife," then is a good boss or mentor your "work mom" or "work dad"? Part authority figure, part dispenser...
12:45 p.m. — I have a dryer, rare in Shanghai, so my friend runs home to get his laundry and then does a load at my place
Ah, the job interview. Getting one always feels like a win — your résumé passed the test, and you've moved on to the next round. Writing the cover letter...
Working in the service industry is an easy way to get an (often unwanted!) glimpse into other people's personal lives. Whether you waited tables at a ...
Recently, I was reminiscing about my financial education. Or maybe I should put that in quotes: “financial education.” In 10th grade, we created a budget ...
11 p.m. — Make some more bad decisions and send a text for delivery of some illicit substances but he misses my text, which is probably a good thing ...