By the time the waiter brought the second round of sake, Katherine, a 28-year-old graduate student, was in panic mode. She had already calculated the cost of the sushi rolls her friends had ordered for the table — $15 for the soft-shell crab, $12 for the tuna, $4 per oyster. And those were just the starters. “I was kicking myself for not looking up the prices on the menu beforehand,” Katherine says. “A bunch of my friends work in finance, so they don’t think twice about dropping $150 on dinner. But all I could think was: I’m literally eating what could be my phone and Internet bills for this month. It’s in my mouth, and it tastes like raw tuna, and I want to cry.
Here’s the thing: Your pals might not notice that you’re freaking out across the table. It’s like that Friends episode
where Ross, Monica, and Chandler insist on “going somewhere nice” to celebrate and don’t think twice about ordering appetizers and
entrées. Meanwhile, Rachel, Phoebe, and Joey are ordering the cheapest thing on the menu and freaking out when Ross wants to split the check. (As Rachel puts it to the other two members of Team Broke, “Do you guys ever get the feeling that Chandler and those guys just don’t get
that we don’t make as much money as they do?”)
Abandoning your budget in order to keep up with your friends isn’t just stressful; it’s also unnecessary. “Don’t let other people’s financial situations dictate your money life,” says Sophia Bera, a certified financial planner and founder of Gen Y Planning
. “Focus on you and what you can do to be smart about your money — and let go of the rest.”
That makes sense in theory, but is it normal to feel at least a little jealous when your friends are making it rain and you’re still waiting for a spritz?