Until recently, I had a very close friend that I’ll call Dave. We spent a ton of time together doing all sorts of things – golfing, playing games, going out for drinks, and so on. Dave was one of the first people invited to my wedding and was one of the first people to see my child, too. Dave is also married with a child, so the addition of a family was just fine in our friendship.
About a year ago, I had a complete financial meltdown that I’ve documented in detail on this site. I began to commit myself seriously to spending less money. I cut down on my expensive entertainments, instead substituting things that were more financially sound. I played less golf and instead went to community events. Instead of dropping a twenty on drinks after work, I might drink one or two at home in the evenings. I sold off all of my video games at the time (a huge library) and used that cash to pay off my credit cards, only recently buying a Wii (by far the least expensive console).
Unsurprisingly, over the last year, I began to see less and less of Dave. He’d call me to go golfing or go out drinking after work and I would often decline when, in the past, I’d gladly go with him. I’d still do stuff on occasion with him and I always invited him to do stuff with us, which he’d often decline to do something else.
At first, this really upset me, and for a time I made a concerted effort to spend more time with Dave. But I found that my perspective had changed a lot over the past several months – instead of just enjoying a few drinks and flopping the plastic on the table, I would carefully analyze the list, choose a single moderately priced one, sip it slowly, and feel very awkward watching the others blow cash like it was nothing. It bothered me. A lot.
I came to realize over time that as much as I liked Dave, he was addicted to spending money, and I didn’t need that addiction in my life. I basically just laid it out for him one day – I said that I really have to seriously cut back my spending for a while and that I was simply not going to go do stuff as often as before.
I haven’t heard from Dave since.
What did I realize? Dave’s friend wasn’t me – it was spending money on frivolous things. I was interchangeable – Dave merely wanted to “go out with the boys” in some regard.
Even more, a real friendship will survive any such change in philosophy. My closest friend (besides my wife) over the past ten years was my friend when I spent a lot of money and still my friend when I didn’t. Those are the type of people that you want to surround yourself with.
If you’re worried about the ending of a friendship because you’ve made choices to improve your life, ask yourself if that person is your friend, or just a person who wants someone around to reinforce their own personal habits and desires.