Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Keeping Friends and Finances: How to Deal with Financially Challenging Friendships

Friends are the family we choose for ourselves. But some friends can be a serious drain on your savings. If you recognize these kinds of people in your life, it’s hard to know what to do. Here are several examples of financially dangerous friends and how to handle them.

1.) The Party Animal It’s great to blow off steam with friends at a happy hour every once in a while, but the key word here is “occasional.” Party animal friends want an “epic” night, every night, asking you to join them for dinner, drinks, movies, concerts, and other expensive outings. These happenings add up quickly; a nightly $20 bar bill can cost more than $5,000 in a year! Without being rude, what can you do?

First, try suggesting lower-cost alternatives. Instead of drinking at a bar, you and your friends could go running or play tennis at the gym. These options are cheaper – and of course, healthier! If you do go out for drinks, look for “BYOB” events that will let you have fun without breaking the bank. You can also volunteer to be the designated driver, keeping your friends safe while saving money.

Second, set firm limits. When going out with a “party animal” friend, develop an exit strategy in advance: after one drink, call it an early night.

2.) The Sales Friend This friend invites you over for a fun get-together, and before you know it, some stranger is selling you expensive Tupperware. There’s no official pressure to buy, but you want to be supportive of your friend’s new business.

Worse yet, some people get suckered into selling low-quality financial products like high-commission life insurance. They expect you to trust their financial wisdom because you’re friends. If you do, you could hurt your current finances and put your retirement at risk.

The best thing to do in these instances is just say “no.” Of course, “no” doesn’t have to be direct. You can be too busy to go to a product party, or too broke to buy anything once you’re there. Be proactive about financial services so you can say you’ve got those needs managed.

3.) The Borrower There’s nothing that jeopardizes a friendship faster than lending to a friend. Just say “no” to friends who ask you for a loan.

There’s no guarantee you’ll get paid back, and the debt will create an uncomfortable tension in your relationship. You might need the money suddenly, and not have access to it, forcing you to become the needy friend to someone else!

That doesn’t mean you have to leave them high and dry. You can tell them about personal loans from established lenders or credit unions. This way, you help get them out of a bind without harming your friendship.

Your Turn: Do you have any bad financial friends in your life? How do you deal with them? Let us know in the comments section below.

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