Updated on 08.15.07

Losing A Friend Over Money

Trent Hamm

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.

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  1. dong says:

    I think you might’ve been a little harsh with Dave. Not to say that you guys were still on the same page anymore, but just not sure if you needed to lay it out on him. I mean you shouldn’t feel awkward if people are blowing money around you – that’s their decision. Maybe they should spend less, but ultimately that’s only something they’ll realize or have to realize.

  2. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    The problem was that Dave only wanted to spend time with me doing activities where it was basically required to blow money, like golfing, etc. That was the issue – he wouldn’t do things that didn’t require money to be tossed around.

  3. Indeed, sometimes those we think of as friends are not. I know I’ve found that out several times over.

  4. devil says:

    Great post…and you’re exactly right. Dave wants a co-dependent relationship and you don’t.

    I think you did the right thing in telling it to him straight. That way, if he does want to give the situation any serious thought, he’ll realize it wasn’t personal. This is just something you have to do for yourself.

  5. Ted says:

    If Dave really was a friend of yours, why not budget some of your play money to spend time with him? Its a two way street.

  6. guinness416 says:

    Fair point that if he doesn’t want to hang out at your house and has cut off contact you may be driftng apart, but saying he is “addicted to spending money” because he likes the pub scene and golfs seems really bizarre and very harsh to me. Both are social and stress-relieving hobbies, and unless he’s jetting to Vegas on a regular basis to indulge them why the judgmental language? Plenty of people have their finances in order to a degree that drinking after work or going golfing fits right in to their budget, and may not like the feeling that they’re being judged over it by someone who’s “found religion”.

  7. Samantha says:

    I think the main point of the story is that Dave didn’t want to do any of the stuff that didn’t involve money. I had a best friend that we would get together for girls day and do lunch with some shopping. Once I started watching my pennies (and bought a house) I couldn’t afford to do that anymore. I offered many many times to get together at one of our houses and hang out. Nope…. she never took me up on my offers to find low-cost fun. Do we talk anymore? sure on our birthdays when a present is required!

  8. Liz says:

    This really resonates with me – my fiance and I recently committed to ditching our credit card debt by the end of the year, and no one (not even family) knows what to do with us anymore. I think a lot of people are conditioned to need that extra, external validation of how “fun” something is that comes from spending money – and they’re afraid of turning off the money faucet and having actually to relate to someone on a true, personal level. While our friends grapple with this, he and I will be at our apartment, baking cookies and playing board games.

  9. Brad says:

    Perhaps Dave was out spending money in order to get away from his wife? With you no longer in the role as his “accomplice”, you were no longer useful to him? People are funny.

  10. content says:

    “I would carefully analyze the list, choose a single moderately priced one, sip it slowly,”

    …And you’re surprised Dave won’t return your calls? You sound about as pleasant to be around as a cardboard nun.

    When I go out with friends and I’m feeling particularly tight in the wallet I certainly don’t sit and complain about how much everything costs. I buy a pitcher of PBR, grab some darts, and enjoy the companionship. And I certainly don’t judge them for spending *their* money on nachos. Especially if they offer a few chips my way!

  11. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I don’t have any problem going out once in a while and spending some money on drinks, but going out three nights a week for $20 worth of drinks and a $100 golfing excursion every weekend and a constant war of who has the better gadget/car/etc. starts to wear out a person’s wallet.

  12. GeekMan says:

    I apologize in advance for the length of my comment.

    While I agree with Trent in theory, I feel that in practice an approach more in keeping with dong’s words may have been better. I don’t know the full story, of course, but the conclusion Trent makes that Dave was never his friend seems very weak, to put it mildly. Have you access to Dave’s financial history? Do you know what his actual monthly “blow” budget is? Does he make enough and save enough to meet all his needs and obligations such that he can afford to do things you cannot? Believing you are morally superior to someone else simply due to your conviction that your way is the right way for everyone leads one down a very slippery slope indeed.

    How about an example? Let’s say two people are friends, but one is a millionaire and the other is lower middle class. Given this situation, their concepts of petty cash are going to be miles apart. Does this mean they cannot be friends? That the millionaire cannot spend less (not nothing, just less) around their cash-strapped friend? Does this mean that the non-millionaire has to spend oodles of money they can’t afford to spend just to see their rich friend? No, but spending absolutely zero when with their millionaire friend wouldn’t be the right thing either, would it? Moderation is the key, here. As Horace Porter said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

    To change the concept a small amount, and help illuminate my take, what if this were a question of children rather than finances? What if you couldn’t hang with this friend because he only wanted to do “grown-up” things? Maybe he only liked going to bars for a beer while watching the game? Or perhaps you and he like golf, but no children were allowed on the course? Basically, what if a single friend with no children suddenly stopped hanging with you because everything you used to do was no longer appropriate now that you had a child? Would you automatically assume they were never really your friend? Would you automatically assume he was addicted to dangerous, child-unfriendly activities and stop being his friend unless he was willing to go to the amusement park with you and the kid every weekend?

    And, just to play with this a bit more, your final thought can also be applied by your friends when they think of you. So Trent ask yourself, ask yourself if your friends are really your friends, or just people who you want around to help reinforce your newfound financial personal habits and desires.

  13. offended says:

    I was offended by the judgmental slant of this article. I agree that there are definitely people out there that are not willing to go the distance when we make positive changes in out lives, but your blatant judgment of how he lives his life would have made me walk away too. I wouldn’t want call someone a friend, if I felt like they were constantly judging me and how I live my life. Especially if the judgment is coming from someone who had the same habits for quite some time.

  14. Debbie says:

    GeekMan, that was a good devil’s advocate post.


    I don’t see how nursing a single drink at a bar makes you suddenly less fun than drinking $20 worth of drinks. I thought people went to bars to hang out, talk, throw darts, etc., not to luxuriate in the guzzling of others.

    I like that this post brings up an interesting and important issue. Losing friends can happen for all kinds of reasons, though.

    As someone who used to move all the time as a kid, and then sometimes lost friends even when I didn’t move (hey! not fair!), I can say that friends often grow apart, and it doesn’t mean you weren’t good friends for a while. Any change in lifestyle can cause it such as different class schedules or dinner schedules at school, then later changing jobs, changing neighborhoods, having kids, etc.

    I think there are all kinds of “real” friends. Some are mostly friends of convenience, some are much more, and with some you make a commitment to stay friends whatever it takes.

    It’s sad to lose people like this post describes, and I think it’s even fair to grieve over the loss a bit and think about the things you miss and about whether there are ways to get some of those things in other ways.

  15. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    It’s not judgemental in the least. I really don’t care how Dave spends his money – I just don’t want to spend any, and Dave would only do things with me where spending money I didn’t want to spend was a precondition. I finally just said that I can’t afford to spend money like this anymore and he didn’t call me back. I have no idea how that can be seen as judgemental – my feelings were rather hurt by this until I realized that if Dave valued ME, I wouldn’t have been in the situation.

  16. trb says:

    One of the hardest parts of getting older is having friends move away. Good friends, lifer friends. Even now, three buddies and I can get together and do nothing but talk, swim, play cards, etc, and enjoy the company immensely.

    Since we’ve all gotten relationships and jobs, though, we’re spread to all the corners of the country and beyond – that means that even being able to meet up requires a good chunk of change. We have all talked about this, and agreed to budget for our friendship. It’s hard to do, with all the competing priorities out there, but I think my ultimate quality of life will be better because of this choice.

    The difference between these guys and Dave is that I can tell them the truth about my situation, and expect them to respect it and come up with some new ideas. I’ve had a couple of Daves in the past, and now I know why it didn’t stick. Great post, Trent.

  17. consumer_q says:

    As your personality changes, those who you consider to be friends will also change. If you no longer have commonalities, you will potentially lose that friendship.

    Mourn the loss of a friendship, sure, but you need not devalue the good times you had together.

  18. JR says:

    I find it very sad that you’re willing to lose a friend over money. One of the great things about being responsible with money is the control you gain over your life. It sounds like you’ve gone too far, and money is still controlling your life, but in the other extreme.

  19. Docah says:

    I’ve been in the situation of getting away from friends and ex’s that have habits that can’t fit with my life. It’s tough, and usually they don’t understand why for quite some time.

    It’s nice to see that as some of them mature, they start to understand. I’ll come around, I’ll hang out. I won’t go out to dinner 3 times a week and buy drinks. It is a terribly akward situation when you pay a $6-10 bill and everyone around you is throwing in $20 or more. The worst part is, we all have HDtv’s and beer at home. For the cost of a few lbs of chicken wings and sauces we could easily do the same meal at anyone’s place.

  20. brent says:


    I don’t think you needed to “spell it out”. All you had to do was say “Nah, I’m not going to buy a drink – but do you mind if I just come along?” or “Nah, can’t afford golf at the moment – how about we go to the beach instead?”

    He would have got the idea.

    The golden rule of relationships ought to be that it’s ALWAYS your responsibility to keep the relationship alive. Trent, you need to call your friend and say “Hi, sorry I haven’t been able to come out with you lately. Look, come over and have dinner at my place to make it up to you.”

    THEN if he refuses, and only then, can you say that you’ve lost a friend over money.

    So far it just looks like you’ve lost a friend just because your phone stopped ringing and you’re too uptight to reach out.

  21. Liv says:

    Does “Dave” read your blog?

  22. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Brent, that’s the thing. I did that for months and Dave would usually still choose the thing that costs money. I would invite him to do cheap stuff and he’d decline, saying he’d rather go “golfing with the boys.”

    He’d also just stop by for the purpose of showing me his new $600 gadget and then basically taunt me because I wasn’t buying such things – I largely stopped buying such stuff when I saw how much debt it was causing.

    Did you miss the part of the article where I said “At first, this really upset me, and for a time I made a concerted effort to spend more time with Dave”? I saw that there was no reciprocality – to do stuff with Dave, I had to do expensive things or else be derided.

  23. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I have no idea if Dave is a reader, but I seriously doubt it.

  24. Jessica says:

    Trent, I can totally relate to your situation and had an old friend from high school like “Dave” as well. It’s a long story but he basically couldn’t stand that my spouse and I weren’t going into debt to have fun, and were saving for long term goals. Although we did go out occassionally, maybe once a week or so, he wanted to go out every night and spend tons of money that he didn’t have. I know he didn’t have this money because he talked about his debt openly, and also how his parents and his in-laws were constantly bailing him out. We didn’t chastise him or act snooty about it, but he would be pissed (and told our mutual friends about it) that we didn’t want to be excessive spenders.

    He was all very open about his desire to constantly be spending money and having objects to show off. He was always looking for someone to spend time with (he was/is using this as a way to avoid a major issue…but that’s another story). He also had a terrible work ethic which he openly admitted to. It became very hard to stay friends with someone who had a completely different value system. Not surprisingly he wasn’t the same person I knew in high school.

    It is hard to stay and be friends with someone who wants to be competitive with you about material things and you don’t. It’s like having that friend who no one wants to play a board game with because they pout or throw the game on the ground. That behavior is just as juvenille but some never outgrow it.

  25. Jayne says:

    I think people are missing the point of your article. I didn’t get the sense your intent was to tell Dave how to live or how to spend his money or judge him for not being like yourself. You realized that he didn’t really value you as an individual- you were just part of the lifestyle. Any of you ever talked to an addict who decides to get clean? This happens ALL the time.

  26. EdTheRed says:

    Yep. You hit the mail on the head with that one. Maybe someday Dave’ll realize that you and he were enablers in your spending addiction. You got out before hitting rock bottom (bankruptcy, broken marriage, etc.)

  27. FourPillars says:

    Sometimes values can get in the way of a great friendship – I used to hang out a lot with a buddy who thought that marriage vows were valid only on the wedding day.

    We’re still ‘sorta’ friends but I don’t particularly want to hang out with him anymore, even though we always have a great time together.


  28. Other points in the article notwithstanding, remember, if something is cultural it isn’t neurotic – it’s the norm. :)

    I wouldn’t judge Dave as “addicted to spending” as quickly as I would that he’s the usual consumerist who has not made the same extraordinary effort that you did to not be one yourself.

    Relatively speaking, you joined the cult, he didn’t. Is it a good cult?, the right cult?, the wise cult?, and the cult most likely to secure your future and that of your family? Of course it is. I read this blog faithfully because I’d like to join it too. But in doing so I will consider that to some degree I will no longer connect with normal spenders who are, in essence, just being the usual. I will probably resign to adjusting over them more than I will expecting them to adjust over me.


  29. Tim says:

    it’s not about money, it’s about interests, values, and goals. if they diverge, so will your friendship. you’ll meet new people with the same or similar values. no big woop. nothing wrong with it, and it happens throughout life. i’m sure the vast majority of people no longer are friends with their friends from elementary school.

  30. mark says:

    Well, I certanly can find myself in your article too. But I do realize that I’ve become too obsessed with money lately. When once I didn’t give a damn about it (or the lack of it), I am now too focused on it and I judge everything through the prism of it. This isn’t healthy at all and I’m trying to find a middle ground.

  31. Alex Lopes says:

    It is true that there are few people who like to move-out with you only for money. I really appreciate that you didn’t want to spend money for luxury amusement. But the culprit behind this is only MONEY.

    And lastly you haven’t lost you friend Dave, he lose you.

  32. Jeremy says:

    If he’d been a nicer guy, he would have kicked down for your drinks, too. That’s the polite thing to do when one guy is willing to spend more than the other. I think “addicted to spending” is silly, though. If it’s causing him serious problems, sure, but in this case, it was like a drinker and a recovering alcoholic going out to a bar. Of course that isn’t going to work.

  33. Optimus says:


    A lot of negative comments here. Trent, you hit the nail on the head with this guy; a real friend doesn’t up and disappear because YOU want to be a more responsible human being. Dave showed himself to be all about the dopamine. People -absolutely- get addicted to spending money, IT CAUSES A DOPAMINE RELEASE (you all know how good it can feel to buy something new).

    A true friend would respect your decision and even try to learn from it, to adapt to the situation and learn how to have fun without blowing a wad of green.

  34. Eric says:

    You can’t be an enabler or allow him to become an enabler for you. Debt is a drug, and you will find pushers everywhere. Your true friends will respect that and still hang out with you regardless.

  35. Tom says:

    A very insightful post that many of us can relate to. In my own case, I have a quartet of lifelong friends where this has become an issue…free time is usually the biggest challenge, but in terms of money 3 of us make significantly more (at least 2x) than the 4th. And while we have run the gamut of paying for his activities, doing cheaper things together, etc., it is fairly unavoidable that the issue of money becomes an underlying current in the relationship. A case in point is that all of our birthdays are within a few months of each other, and as we approach certain age milestones, those 3 of us who can afford it would like to travel or do something momentous, which is invariably out of reach of the 4th. Despite the best of intentions, it is tough to avoid feeling guilt or resentment depending on which side of the equation you are on. The variables that affect a friendship are complex, so I hope there is a way to salvage yours if that should continue to be your desire.

  36. Lyndyb says:

    Some friendships just can’t survive change. Similar things can happen when someone decides to lose weight. The things that you used to do together no longer fit in your altered circumstances, be it trying to save money/get out of debt, lose weight or recover from an addiction. In the process, sometimes we change as well and it can be very unsettling to those who don’t want to do anything any differently than they already have. They can view the differences as a defection of sorts. In fairness, sometimes in order to stick to a new program or regime, we almost have to be obsessive initially and that can be a little hard for others to take.

    We all hope our friend want what is best for us, and when they don’t support the things we do in order to improve our lives, especially when it’s for our financial or physical well being, then as hard as it is, sometimes we have to part ways – or limit the amount of time to how often we can afford to get together. But once you realize that someone only wants to continue the friendship on their terms, you begin to question the value of the relationship.

  37. Brett says:

    Seems like that confrontation might have been a bit harsh. I am all for avoiding any type of enablement, but if Dave has the resources to do those kinds of things, I do not see any harm in it. Just because you have a different philosophy, does not necessarily mean it is right for everyone. Now if he was racking up credit card debt or was drinking five or more drinks every time, I would see it as a problem, but from what you stated it seems like you could have both done your own things and just done things together when your interests aligned. I have had a lot of friendships that ebb and flow as people change. I am just concerned that Dave might have interpreted your “confrontation” as an attack on him personally and merely a pretense to breaking of the relationship for some other reason, unbeknownst to him.

  38. lindy says:

    Looks like you were right. Dave’s friend wasn’t you. Or maybe the other way around. There are two ends of a telephone. Maybe he didn’t know what to say after all that. Perhaps there was nothing needed to be said. It does not seem as though your values around money are a very good match, now. Money values don’t exist in a vacuum, so there are probably other areas where the gap between you has grown. Doesn’t make either of you “bad”. Just different.

  39. Kathy says:

    Proverbs 17:7 “17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
    Good for you.
    Don’t be manipulated or blackmailed into a false conformity by Dave, or by any person commenting on this board.
    A true friendship is not based on your material possessions.

  40. Matt says:

    Dave likes to go out drinking and to play golf and buy toys. Dave apparently doesn’t like to sit around the house being bored. In other words, Dave is a normal guy. Remember, you’re the one who changed. Pinning the loss of the friendship on Dave is unfair. He is still willing to be exactly the same friend he was before. That used to be good enough for you and now it’s not, and it’s not fair to cast aspersions his way over it.

  41. DivaJean says:

    When my partner & I married, we had to say goodbye to a whole group of friends whose financial choices and lifestyle was not what we would envision for our family.

    The gang had a ringleader I’ll call Sally- who would come out with edicts as to what would be happening each weekend. Where everyone would be going, meals eating out, you name it. We had to just walk away.

    Years later, everyone in that group has had financial problems in keeping up with the funfunfun lifestyle. They had gone on trips together, cruises, you name it- but no one had anything financially to show for it. Several of the couples have broken up or had affairs with others in the group too.

    I thank my lucky stars for the difficult choice we made.

  42. Paul Allen says:

    Maybe he just didn’t want to hang out with a cheapskate and wanted his fun-loving friend back. You know someone that could have fun hanging out once in a while and not do a line by line audit of the check at the end of the night.
    I don’t blame him. You sound like a real barrel of monkeys.

  43. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    For all of you who are responding by calling me names and insulting my life, why do you feel the need to spend money to have fun?

    I’d call up Dave and say, “How about we play disc golf at the park?” or “I’ve got four free tickets to the I-Cubs – let’s go to a game!” and he’d basically hang up on me. Why? The activities I suggested didn’t allow Dave to flash his cash. When things like this happen enough, it becomes clear that Dave’s actual friend is spending money and doing expensive things, something I’m not interested in.

  44. Matt says:

    Oh geez people. Quit being so tough on Trent. Your friends change as you change. Trent made the decision he thought was best for his life and he’s realized the consequences.

    There’s nothing wrong with that!

    Show me a man who has the same friends for 20 years and I’ll show you men who haven’t grown for 20 years.

  45. Matt says:

    Maybe Dave wants to play real golf and maybe he doesn’t like minor league ball. I golf sometimes, but I have no interest in throwing a frisbee around. I’ve been to several minor league games and, except at the triple-A level, the players aren’t good enough that I want to watch them play.

    I think the issue here is that you’re projecting your old shortcomings onto Dave. Dave is still Dave and he probably wonders why you changed. Why must you disparage him? Try to look at this from his perspective. “My old buddy is suddenly no fun anymore AND he’s giving me crap about money? Screw him!”

  46. PF says:


    You don’t need to defend yourself. I mean, come on. Anyone who comes over to brag about their latest gadget and rub it in your face is not a friend and they never were. You just woke up to that reality one day. Actually, nothing changed except that you recognized that he was never a friend.

    Friendships do change and evolve over time, even those that at one time seem the most solid.

  47. tom bar says:

    Trent I don’t mean to heap on the negative, but you’re wrong when you insist you’re not being judgmental. You are. What’s worse is that YOU were the one who changed, not Dave, and you’re judging him for YOUR change.

    This isn’t a Dave issue, it’s a Trent issue. You’re transferring your issues on to him, and from my perspective you’ve been unfair to Dave.

    You chose to be a spend thrift, or were forced to by circumstance, he didn’t, and really he has no requirement to. Was Dave interested in any of the ways of socializing you’re now into before you made your change?

    If he wasn’t, then why is this his issue? It’s not, it’s yours, and to insist that he was “addicted to spending money” is about as ridiculous a concept as I believe I’ve ever read in similar situations.

    Trent this issue is all YOU. Maybe Dave pulled himself away because he sensed you guys were growing apart, but I’ll bet that you were sending him these judgmental vibes whenever you did hang out, probably without even realizing it.

  48. NCReader says:

    I think that one of the major points here is that friendship is supposed to be about the people and the relationship. Sure, friends like to do fun stuff together. Sure, Dave might not think disc golf or minor league ball is the most un thing in the world. But if you’re only looking at the entertainment and not the person you’re spending time with, then it doesn’t really matter much who you’re with, does it? There are plenty of events, including minor league ball, that I think are pretty boring and have still enjoyed tremendously because I was with a good friend who could make me laugh about the game. And every once in awhile a true friend does something just to spend time with another friend, even if the activity is not the highlight of the week.

  49. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    If a friend is a friend, why wouldn’t the friend be okay with sometimes going disc golfing for free instead of refusing to do anything unless you dropped 100% at a golf course?

  50. Matt says:

    He wants to play golf. Disc golf is not the same thing. If you had an 18-hole golf course in your backyard, I’m sure he would be happy to come over and play for free.

  51. plonkee says:

    Only Trent and Dave can judge accurately what went on. Trent could easily be right and Dave was never really a friend, just a social acquaintance. Some people just don’t connect with you as strongly as you connect with them, and realising that is definitely not very nice.

    On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with having social acquaintances, I bet there are lots of people that I hang out with now who wouldn’t want to hang out if my circumstances change but I’m sure I can find replacements.

  52. rob says:

    I can really relate to this post. I’ve been in situations where I felt pressured to keep spending on things that don’t provide me enjoyment, just to maintain the friendship. Eventually, I would just admit to myself that we’ve grown apart, and let go of the friendship.

    Friends really shouldn’t be about pressure, it should come easy.

  53. ProGolfer says:

    Frisbee golf and real golf are not exactly interchangeable sports…

  54. vh says:

    But…there could be something to Trent’s sense that his own new-found frugality had something to do with the death of a friendship.

    My former best friend spent extravantly (and still does) on such things as home renovation & decorating, designer clothing, gourmet cookery, eating out all the time, & the like. A serial marrier, her two previous husbands were very, very wealthy, and now that she was with the love of her life, as she and Hubby #3 entered old age she continued to spend as though she had all the money in the world.

    After a tumultuous stint as president of her patio-home community’s board of directors, she (like all the other board members) sold a pretty house on which she had spent a ton of money and bought a fixer-upper in a tony neighborhood. She proceeded to spend something like to 80 grand in renovation & improvements, above & beyond the purchase price.

    Just as the last of the contractors walked out the door, her wage-earning husband was superannuated out of the two jobs he held to support her spending habits. She, being resourceful, engineered a job with the university where I work, and she managed to negotiate a salary of about $50,000, in addition to which she hung on to the two courses/semester she was teaching as a part-timer, giving her a total income of about $60,000…more than an associate professor who had been there over 10 years was earning, and an astonishing amount considering that others in that job category are lucky to earn $35,000.

    So about this time I was at a mutual friend’s house when Ms. Gotrox called on the phone. Our friend didn’t want to drop what we were doing to talk, and so she left the answering machine running. During the chatty message Ms. G. left, she said to our mutual friend, who was to be her immediate supervisor, “Don’t tell V. what they’re going to pay me, because she’s kind of funny about money.”

    After our mutual friend let her know I had overheard this remark, she sort of apologized, & I was willing to let it go. After all, we had been like sisters for years. But apparently she couldn’t get past it, and the friendship soon withered away.

    It was a mighty pricey sisterhood. She and I spent a lot of time shopping (and eating out, and drinking expensive booze), and when we were in stores we would resonate off each other. Her taste ran to designer clothes, and when she would buy Eileen Fisher, so would I. Sometimes I’d wait a couple of days and quietly slink back to Saks to return the stuff. But I still have a few of those outfits in my closet, which I wear…oh, maybe once a year, if I have a meeting with some powermonger that I really want to impress.

    Though I occasionally miss the companionship of my erstwhile friend, I don’t miss a relationship with someone who thinks living within one’s means is “funny about money.” Our mutual friend (whom Ms. Gotrox shafted during the following year of career-building) has taken her place as the new “best friend,” and I’ve cultivated friendships with other women acquaintances who are very pleasant to be with and…guess what? also try to live within their means! Apparently there must be more than one of us out here who’s funny about money. LOL!!!

  55. m360 says:

    Spending money is addictive, as much as any substance of abuse, and at one time you validated his habit. As we grow, our values change and at some point we don’t align with others. Now that you are trying to be frugal and make practical choices, Dave sees this as a threat to his personal values. There is a big, black hole inside dave that is filled, temporarily, everytime he acts like a big baller.

    I know how it feels, I’ve lost many friends to similar things. I had friends who drank, until I decided I didn’t like how it made me feel, then I had friends who smoked, and there again, I couldn’t deal with them, and now I am going to lose a very good friend over $. She asked me if she could borrow about $100 to pay her cell phone bill. She said it had been shut off but then she picked up her cell phone and appeared to be sending a text msg.

    She complains about being poor but recently bought an iPod and all the accessories. When I made a comment about how she should have waited until her bills were paid, she got defensive and said it was a gift. I know better! I can barely pay my own bills let alone hold the weight of a friend. I’m sure she thought that since I’m frugal it means I’ve got loads of $$ stashed away. Well she left sulking and I haven’t heard from her since.

    It’s sad to lose a friend over something so juvenile, but at least you know how superficial the friendship was anyway. Your better off w/o him, he would only bring you down because even though you vow to spend less, on a subconcious level you would be trying to buy his friendship.

  56. eR0CK says:

    If you’re at the point where you’re looking for the cheapest drink on the menu and drinking it so slowly as to not appear awkward sitting at a bar empty handed … you’re TOO frugal in my opinion.

    I’ll even say you’re cheap, because that’s the fact of the matter.

    I have quite a few friends and we’re all the same age getting ready to start families and get married, but I would find it highly insulting if they couldn’t make it “once in a while” to one “wasteful” golf outing.

    Sometimes frugal people are just plain cheap and this is one of those moments.

  57. walleyegirl says:

    I think this experience has made you more insightful, and probably a better money manager. The fact that the majority of the population overspends makes them normal, but it will never, EVER make them healthy! If “Dave” became a saver, I don’t know that I would still want to trust him, because we see that his behavior indicates that he sees people as tools toward his ends, not ends in themselves. Users come in every form, and you don’t necessarily know with conviction that you’re best friend isn’t one until the mettle has been tested over time and adversity. You made a healthy choice that saved you financial life and that of your family. You have changed the lives of many, many appreciative people on the Internet. I think the tradeoff was great, I I fully appreciate the fact that you bent over backward for this stubborn, selfish man. If it were simply a case that he wanted to live it up a bit more than you, he would have chipped in to bring you along on things that he found meaningful, and would have, on several occasions, come to your house JUST TO SPEND TIME WITH YOU. He’s a user, despite the fact that he obviously has many other wonderful qualities (or he wouldn’t have secured you as a friend earlier). When it becomes apprent that those we love are not interested in us personally, it is very painful, and I am so sorry for your pain. This is an old chapter in your life, one that you may reread and from which you will continue to glean insight. I don’t think you are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I think you have just reached the outer bounds of “Dave’s” character, and are sad to say the two of you can no longer walk side by side from this point. Remember the fun, and then return to your present, and cherish the reward of stepping out of idle entertainment and into a more purposeful life: now you are taking ownership of your finances, your family and your future in a way that most “normal” people, if they were brutally honest with themselves. may never do for two months in a row. Great job! Take heart and weigh this loss for all the gains you have acheived. You never walked away from the relationship (even went after him), but he did, when all it would have cost him was a visit to a friend’s house.

  58. Chazz says:

    I understand jeopardizing a friendship in that way. I stopped drinking last summer just because I thought I was drinking too often and spending too much money. I even went to AA for a while. Of course, my drinking buddy’s totally tried to convince me that I didn’t have a problem (I discovered that for myself). But they were most concerned that they had lost a drinking and shopping partner. “Just one won’t hurt”, they’d whine. I constantly felt compelled to explain myself. There was some distance for a while, but it was me who distanced myself, needlessly. Then I realized that you have to do what’s best for you and screw who doesn’t like it, friend or not. In my opinion, both of you are not putting forth enough effort. If you’re true friends you will find a happy medium. Golfing one weekend, catching a game over a few (cheap beers)the next. Or maybe you just had nothing else in common. Did you talk about your lives and your families or just have fun together?

    Anyway, we soon settled into our regular routine again, I just don’t spend as much money on drinking and shopping. But I do have a newfound respect for those friends who I used to ridicule for being savers and drinking in moderation.

    I don’t want to sound too preachy but the one thing I learned from AA was that we have to learn to accept people for who they are and choose to not stress over it.

  59. KellyKelly says:

    I believe in investing for the long-term with people. If I’ve been close to someone for 10 years, a six-month bump in the road while we adjust to changes — money, marriage, moving, a baby, etc. — is NOT a big deal.

    In my case, the relationships are being hurt by my money-centeredness involving SHAME and self-worth connected to income. I started a business and my income has dropped drastically. Meanwhile, many of my friends are/are married to engineers, technology people, specialty nurses, MBA types, etc. We used to go camping, and now they fly to Colorado for ski trips. I can’t do that. They have parties at their houses. I can’t do that — because I am now ashamed of my house. They get custom-made furniture. I throw out a broken chair and don’t replace it.

    I do not think these folks are living in debt. In fact, I am 100 percent sure they are not.

    But I am jealous, and even more, embarrassed. It is a HORRIBLE reason for avoiding people who care for me, but I do it more and more. However, I will spend the money to celebrate birthdays and holidays. It is my way of showing I do still care.

    By the way, I quit drinking alcohol several years ago and continued my friendships with my drinking buddies. It was just not a big issue to me, and I never said one word in judgement about their boozing. Not one word, and that includes passive-aggressive sermonizing about DUI laws or things in the news. People are not stupid and they know when they are being criticized indirectly.

    Well I didn’t really address the thread topic directly, but I hope this adds to the discussion. I found this page by Googling “too frugal.”


  60. Shred says:

    There are many possible reasons why he didn’t call you back:

    1) He felt judged.
    2) After you rejected his offers several times, he may have felt you no longer wanted to be friends and later, didn’t really believe that it was about money.
    3) He felt that you no longer had the same interests (golf and drinking, which require money but are not the same as simply spending money for fun).
    4) Your discomfort when you went out made him uncomfortable.
    5) Your need to save made him uncomfortable because it brought up his own fears about deprivation.
    5) He’s addicted to spending money and wants you to enable him.
    6) A billion other possibilities.

    We can’t get inside Dave’s head to know what he was thinking when he didn’t call you back. What we can know is that you decided to interpret his behavior as “Dave doesn’t really like me for me. He’s addicted to spending money and only wants me to help him do it.”

    You could call Dave and try to connect with him by attempting to understand: “I’m really bummed that we don’t hang out anymore. What happened? Did I do something to offend you? I got the feeling that you didn’t care to be around me unless I could spend the same amounts of money I used to spend, and it really hurt my feelings. Is that what you think happened? Even though we can’t do the same things we used to do together, our friendship is really important to me…”


    In my experience, the willingness to have vulnerable, honest (and sober) conversations like this is what separates the real friends from the drinking buddies. Maybe Dave was never really your friend, but it seems to me that you may have bailed before you knew whether that was true or not. Maybe, what happened instead is that you projected your fears that if you didn’t have a lot of money to spend, people weren’t going to like you. Dave acted in a way that could be interpreted as you did and, thereby, confirmed your belief that people don’t love you, just the money you can spend.

  61. J says:

    Well, it’s interesting to see all the responses here. I was searching for how to deal with this exact same problem and know it’s tough to sort it out. I’ve been spending the last two years trying to be more responsible with money, especially in the last six months. It has affected some of my friendships in both good and bad ways. One friend always suggests solutions to any problem that cost money (boredom, stress with the spouse, rewarding kids for milestones, etc.). The difference, though, is that he knows why I started doing this (massive debt) and mostly is cool with it. Yeah, sometimes I grate my teeth when I know he is going to say to buy something else, but I can also laugh when he says I’m becoming an eco-hippy. Is he in over his head financially? Yep. Do I lecture him about it? Nope. Did I make all the same mistakes and learn some lessons he hasn’t yet? Sure. Is it my job to teach him? Nope. Right now that friendship is most likely becoming less important to me, though, if only because our interests are farther apart. Nobody’s the bad guy, though.

    It sounds like this guy in the article tried to tell his friend what was going on, and the friend was way too self-involved to adjust his expectations. Yes, they were friends at one time, and it’s harsh to say they never were, but I don’t think it’s too harsh to stop making the extra effort in a friendship that isn’t going to survive one or both of you changing. If my spouse and I didn’t work with each of us changing, we would have divorced within the first year or two, and it would have been a good thing if that’s how immature we were. We’ve been married 8 years, it’s probably because we just accept that we’re both still changing and won’t stop.

    On the flip side, I find that being more frugal has reopened some friendships that were on hold. One guy I gave a lot of static too for being “cheap” now looks a lot wiser to me. It’s me on the other side of this one, but now it’s a few years down the road where I realize what happened now. If he had lectured me a few years ago, I’m sure I would have thought him a sanctimonious prick, regardless of how true it was then that I spent like a fool. But the reality is that he just stuck to his guns to not blow money he thought was silly to spend. Guess what, I learned that I could always count on going to his house, having a few cheap PBR’s, give each other crap, and have a great time.

    So what’s the point? Let the friendships go where they may. Don’t be surprised if someone you “write off” comes around in a few years. Don’t be surprised if you are the one easing up in a few years. A good friendship can weather this. A casual acquaintance cannot.

    Want to share what you’ve learned with your friends? It really is a lot like religion: don’t cram it down their throat, or make passive-agressive comments about the ‘unsaved’. Just live out your new philosophy and share it with anyone that is interested enough to ask you about it.

    On a whole other note, being frugal really makes you see your older relatives with new appreciation. That’s a whole other story to write…

  62. vicky says:

    I think some people have missed the point of the post. Trent, I once had similar issues with some friends of mine. You did the wise thing.

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