10 Friends Who Will Ruin Your Finances If You Let Them

We’ve always heard a good friend is “worth their weight in gold.” But is that always true?

With some friends, absolutely. A good friend can be there for you when times are tough, help you celebrate when times are good, and make your day-to-day life a lot more fun. Unfortunately, not all “good friends” are good with money. And some friendships can be costly – especially if you have trouble setting boundaries.

Let’s face it: If you’re not careful, even a great friend can leave you broke. If you’re worried how your friendships are affecting your finances, watch out for these 10 types of friends who might throw you off your game:

#1: The friend who always wants to go out

We’ve all got that friend who never wants to hang at home. Given the choice, she’ll go out to the movies instead of renting a new release, plan a fancy sit-down dinner instead of trying out a new recipe, or hit the club instead of uncorking a bottle of wine at home.

When you suggest a Netflix movie night or basically anything that involves wearing pajama pants, her lack of enthusiasm is palpable. She wants to get out and meet new people and not just sit on your couch, she says.

While that’s great and all, the financial impact of all these outings can be costly. That’s why the best way to deal with this friend is to choose the outings you’ll truly enjoy and leave the rest.

#2: The friend who loves doing expensive stuff

This friend is nothing more than a juiced-up version of friend #1. The biggest difference is, he or she loves blowing cash on crazy-expensive events.

This is the type of friend who will invite you to see their favorite band when tickets are $100+ apiece. Not only that, but they expect you to go out to dinner beforehand and out for drinks after.

The upside that comes with this type of friend is that they can help you get out of your comfort zone. The downside is, their idea of fun often involves spending hundreds of dollars.

When you’re trying to save for the future, this type of friend can ruin your budget if you let them. If you want to keep the friendship regardless, let them know what you can – and can’t – afford. Then, stick to your guns.

#3: The friend who always promises to ‘catch you next time’

You know that one friend who always says they’ll pick up the tab next time? They claim they left their wallet at home or that they’re short on cash, then they expect you to pay the bill. The problem is, they never pay their own way when the “next time” rolls around. What gives?

While this friend might fool you a few times, you shouldn’t let them get the better of you over the long haul. Forgetting your wallet once or twice is probably forgivable, but never having any money on hand when the check comes is cause for alarm.

It’s okay to keep this friend if you set some boundaries. If they’re out of cash more than a few times, let them know you’re happy to hang out with them – at home.

#4: The friend who games splitting the check

When you’re on a budget and dining accordingly, it can be annoying when friends want to split the dinner check down the middle, regardless of what you ordered. This is especially true if your friends always splurge. There’s always that friend who orders filet mignon and six martinis, but thinks it’s perfectly fair to split the bill 50/50.

If you order salads and appetizers and drink water to save money when you dine out, you shouldn’t have to subsidize your spendy friends. You can thwart this friend’s efforts by insisting on a split check from the get-go. If they’re against it, it’s perfectly reasonable to tell them they’re being unfair.

Try communicating directly and firmly. Say, “I’m ordering a salad to save money, so I want a separate check.” You shouldn’t have to negotiate how to spend your own money, so don’t.

#5: The friend who shops for fun

If you pick up a friend who shops for fun, you may be in for a new level of temptation. Whether or not you enjoy bouncing from mall to mall, it can be disastrous for your wallet. As your friend shops for something unique and new, you’ll be exposed to new products, too. And if you’re not careful, you could wind up buying stuff you don’t need and can’t even afford.

This type of friend can be harmless if you set limits and stick to them. Just because you tag along for a shopping trip doesn’t mean you have to buy anything. And, as long as your friend never pressures you to splurge, it might be fine.

#6: The trust fund baby

When you work hard for every dollar you earn, it can be maddening to hang out with someone who was born rich. If they’re a big spender, it can leave you feeling resentful. And if they expect you to “keep up” with their level of splurging, it can wreak havoc on your budget.

It’s possible to maintain a friendship with a trust fund baby as long as they understand your limits and respect your limitations. The key here is letting them know what you can (and can’t) afford ahead of time. If they’re truly your friend, they’ll understand.

#7: The friend who wants to split stuff you don’t even want

Have you ever had a friend who wants to split the bill for stuff you don’t even want? It could be anything – an appetizer you don’t like at dinner, a private cabana on vacation, or a clown for a joint kid’s birthday party. If you don’t want it in the first place, why should you pay half?

The best way to deal with this type of friend is to make your feelings known. If you don’t want to pay half the cost of something, say so. If they put up a fight, it’s perfectly fair to call them out.

If you don’t, you could wind up paying for half of all sorts of stuff. With this type of friend, you’ll be better off if you create boundaries – and stick with them.

#8: The friend who sucks with money and doesn’t even care

If you’re someone who makes responsible financial decisions most of the time, maintaining a friendship with someone who’s just plain terrible with money can be hard. You may watch them blow their savings one minute, then listen to them complain about how they’re late with bills the next. No matter what, it’s not easy to watch people struggle when they’re the source of their own problems.

The best way to approach this kind of friendship is to offer advice when asked, and try your hardest to ignore the rest. As long as they’re not ruining your finances, it’s really none of your business.

#9: The one-upper

One-uppers are some of the most annoying friends you can have. If they’re not trying to have a better car or bigger house, they might focus on outdoing your relationship (at least in their eyes) or just looking better than you do (again, at least in their eyes).

If you’re competitive in nature, being friends with a one-upper can be costly, too. Competing to have the nicest stuff if never cheap, but it’s worse if you’re buying stuff you don’t need and can’t afford.

The best way to deal with a one-upper is to ignore their competitive nature and focus on their good traits. No matter what, the best way to win this game is not to play.

#10: The friend who gives extravagantly

Birthdays aren’t that exciting once you reach adulthood, yet there are those who continue celebrating and want others to do the same. This could mean they invite you to outrageous birthday parties (for example, a girl’s weekend in Lake Tahoe for a 30th birthday), but it could also mean they shower you with expensive gifts on your big day.

What do you do when a friend gives you a $150 bag for your 32nd birthday? Do you repay the favor once their birthday rolls around, or do you cheap out with a card instead? You don’t want to risk hurting their feelings, yet you can’t stomach spending hundreds of dollars on adult friends.

This is yet another situation where direct communication works best. Tell your spendy friend the truth – that you’re living on a budget and can’t afford to be exchanging pricey gifts. Be honest and hope they get the hint. If not, it’s their problem.

Final Thoughts

It’s perfectly okay to have friends who spend differently. The key is making sure you don’t let their bad habits bleed into your own life.

Also, keep in mind that a real friend will understand your position and try not to put you in awkward financial situation. If a friend is always pushing you to your financial limits despite your protests, it might be time to hang out with someone more respectful of your perspective.

Holly Johnson is an award-winning personal finance writer and the author of Zero Down Your Debt. Johnson shares her obsession with frugality, budgeting, and travel at ClubThrifty.com.

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Do you have any friends that fit these descriptions? How do you set boundaries with spendy friends?

Holly Johnson

Contributing Writer

Holly Johnson is a frugality expert and award-winning writer who is obsessed with personal finance and getting the most out of life. A lifelong resident of Indiana, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling the world with her husband and two children. In addition to The Simple Dollar, Holly writes for well-known publications such as U.S. News & World Report Travel, PolicyGenius, Travel Pulse, and Frugal Travel Guy. Holly also owns Club Thrifty.