For most of our formative friendships, finances rarely factor in. The biggest discrepancy between you and your school friends might have been who got the best allowance, and most of us had to scrape the cents together to afford student deals at our college bars.
In adulthood this can all change. Enormous discrepancies in pay packets can quickly emerge, and if you have taken a more creative or aspirational career path, then you may find your bank balance lagging behind. What’s more, family wealth that may not have been previously apparent may surface as friends’ parents stump up deposits for first houses whilst others are still struggling to pay rent.
Differences in income and assets can also mean vast differences in lifestyle. As what you can afford to do together starts to differ, it can be difficult to keep a friendship thriving. If you’re finding yourself struggling to keep up when it comes to spending here are some things to remember:
Careers are long
In some careers it is possible to land a fat, juicy pay-packet straight out of college. For others you may find yourself starting out in a poorly paid admin job to get your foot in the door. Careers are long and crammed with ups and downs, and it’s important to be patient with yourself. OK, sure, you might never earn as much as your friend who graduated top in her class at law school, but it’s important to try not to get too downhearted about your current financial situation.
Promotions, opportunities, and even complete career changes can all be part of your working life. Focus on upskilling and spotting chances to increase your earning power. You may soon find yourself catching up with your friends.
Your work has value
Not all careers can be high-paying — so if you didn’t pick your job for the money, then what did draw you to it? Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to work in a field that you genuinely care about where you feel like you really can make a difference. Perhaps it’s because you value a work-life balance and it’s important for you to be out of the office by 5pm every night. Perhaps your talents simply lie in areas that don’t have a massive price tag attached.
Whatever your role, remind yourself of the reasons why you chose it and the value it brings to your life. The fact that you’re not raking it in doesn’t make your work less important or valuable.
Jealousy is pointless
Although letting the green-eyed monster in can be tempting at times, jealousy is ultimately a pointless emotion. Getting envious about a friend’s income does little to help your own situation, but could be extremely damaging to your relationship. Remember that even if your high-flying bestie got fired tomorrow this would have absolutely no impact on your pay check, so why not just let them enjoy their hard-earned achievements?
If you ever feel yourself falling into a fog of resentment, try and take a step back from the situation. Focus on how great of a person your friend is and how hard they have worked for what they have. That’s something to be celebrated!
Your friends are one of your most valuable assets
Having friends in high places may sometimes be infuriating, but it can also be incredibly helpful. If you’re surrounded by girl bosses who are acing their career goals then there is plenty you can learn from them. Did one of your friends just negotiate a raise? Ask her for tips! Maybe one of them landed a promotion or a top job at a different company. See if she would be happy to share her resume with you so that you can get some ideas to spice up your CV.
Women helping other women are a force to be reckoned with. If you have a ready-made group of mentors around you then don’t miss out on the chance to learn from them.
The time you spend with friends is more important than the things you do together
One of the trickiest things about high-earning friend is how to spend your time together. If your friends are urging you to book a two-week trip to Bali whilst your holiday budget is more of a staycation in your home city, this can be tough to navigate.
First and foremost it’s important to be realistic about what you can afford — avoid racking up credit card debt just to keep up with your friends at all costs. Be honest about your money situation. Tell your friends that although you can’t afford cocktails at that hot new bar opening, you would love to crack open a bottle of wine at home and catch up.
Making plans and suggesting affordable outings will allow you to maintain a level of control over the cost of activities. Sure, it might be galling seeing the snaps of that Hamptons holiday your bestie took without you, but good friends will also make sure to factor in plans that you can join in with too.
Good friends will love you regardless of your income
Money can’t buy lots of things, and great friends are one of them. True friends won’t care if you’re swanning off on a luxury shopping spree or spending the weekend in your pajamas watching Friends reruns to save the cents. You have a thousand fantastic qualities that your besties appreciate and value — that’s why they’re your friend, after all. That’s worth a lot more than the number on your paycheck.