Author Topic: Expensive friends/balancing giving to and activities with friends that cost you  (Read 1544 times)

EconDiva

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So fair warning that this is a bit of a rant actually.

I have a very close (best) friend that I've been friends with for quite a long time that recently got a promotion and is now having to travel frequently to another state for work (think 2-3 times a month, 3-7 days at a time).  *I work from home.*  This friend, although an introvert, really prefers to have people around them so I think they are adjusting to having to leave their spouse at home to travel for work so often.

We live in the same city and I have been getting frequent requests from my friend to fly out with them to the city they are traveling to during one of their work trips.  I actually just returned from a huge bust of a vacation to the Caribbean (another story for another day); although the trip was horrible at least the bright side is I could have potentially wasted more money going if I had actually paid for my flight, etc. instead of using miles. 

Anyways, since returning (early) from that trip a few days ago my travel fund is at zero now and my points/miles are pretty low right now; I'm not in a rush to start back contributing to the fund or mileage/points accounts with so many other more important priorities at the moment.  Once I do, it'll be for when I'm ready to go somewhere else for an actual vacation.

Now, my friend is very understanding and I'm pretty sure they will "get it" when I explain to them why I won't be going.  However, why do I feel...well...a bit "put off" by this request?  I think the reason is because they keep saying to me "Keep in mind that a flight is only going to cost you about $200 right now which is a steal :)"  Now, before MMM, I don't think I ever would have been annoyed by such a thing...but at the moment I am actually just a bit irritated anyone would assume I could just drop $200 to work from home...just in another city for a few days.  It's not like either of us will be off of work/on vacation.  It just seems like a really expensive request and although I'm not typically one to start counting what I'm spending on friends, this has me thinking about how I just gave over $120 to one of their children in college to compete in a pageant, just brought over $40 worth of items to a 4th of July cookout they were having (they specifically requested items from Whole Foods) and was just told about a huge birthday party they are planning for their spouse now which I will likely donate to.

Sorry this ended up being so long.  I don't want to make it seem like I resent giving anything to this or any of my friends when I do give because that's not the case.  Just wondering if others have had to adjust their stance and/or amounts on giving with friends.  I just so happen to be the one MMM friend who isn't hosting parties or asking people to ever give anything so sometimes it does feel just a tad imbalanced.  I used to think that as long as I wasn't going over the amount in my "charitable" bucket that it's all good, but this recent request to pay for a flight just kinda got to me.  Would like to hear from others on how they've handled the balancing act of giving and participating in things with friends without affecting the relationship - in other words, without changing anyone's perception of you as now being the selfish and/or cheap friend.  Not that I think it's fair people would see MMMers as such but I'm sure some people here have had that happen....

Treb3

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Host things yourself as well and give freely but give what you can afford.

Don't contribute to other people's social activities unless it is a gift. Ie, of course you would send a gift to a wedding you are going to, but why are you subsidizing their children's college activities? If you are going a cookout/potluck, take something that fits in your budget. Other people don't get to spend your money for you. And no to the trips to see your friend unless you want to go for you--she is not out money, you are. This is not a case of joint vacations or traveling to see a sick friend. I get that traveling alone for work is lonely--I did it for 15 months-- but this is a lifestyle she chose. Everything has a cost. This happens to be the cost of her promotion.




 Brin[quote alink=topic=94436.msg2063806#msg2
So fair warning that this is a bit of a rant actually.

I have a very close (best) friend that I've been friends with for quite a long time that recently got a promotion and is now having to travel frequently to another state for work (think 2-3 times a month, 3-7 days at a time).  *I work from home.*  This friend, although an introvert, really prefers to have people around them so I think they are adjusting to having to leave their spouse at home to travel for work so often.

We live in the same city and I have been getting frequent requests from my friend to fly out with them to the city they are traveling to during one of their work trips.  I actually just returned from a huge bust of a vacation to the Caribbean (another story for another day); although the trip was horrible at least the bright side is I could have potentially wasted more money going if I had actually paid for my flight, etc. instead of using miles. 

Anyways, since returning (early) from that trip a few days ago my travel fund is at zero now and my points/miles are pretty low right now; I'm not in a rush to start back contributing to the fund or mileage/points accounts with so many other more important priorities at the moment.  Once I do, it'll be for when I'm ready to go somewhere else for an actual vacation.

Now, my friend is very understanding and I'm pretty sure they will "get it" when I explain to them why I won't be going.  However, why do I feel...well...a bit "put off" by this request?  I think the reason is because they keep saying to me "Keep in mind that a flight is only going to cost you about $200 right now which is a steal :)"  Now, before MMM, I don't think I ever would have been annoyed by such a thing...but at the moment I am actually just a bit irritated anyone would assume I could just drop $200 to work from home...just in another city for a few days.  It's not like either of us will be off of work/on vacation.  It just seems like a really expensive request and although I'm not typically one to start counting what I'm spending on friends, this has me thinking about how I just gave over $120 to one of their children in college to compete in a pageant, just brought over $40 worth of items to a 4th of July cookout they were having (they specifically requested items from Whole Foods) and was just told about a huge birthday party they are planning for their spouse now which I will likely donate to.

Sorry this ended up being so long.  I don't want to make it seem like I resent giving anything to this or any of my friends when I do give because that's not the case.  Just wondering if others have had to adjust their stance and/or amounts on giving with friends.  I just so happen to be the one MMM friend who isn't hosting parties or asking people to ever give anything so sometimes it does feel just a tad imbalanced.  I used to think that as long as I wasn't going over the amount in my "charitable" bucket that it's all good, but this recent request to pay for a flight just kinda got to me.  Would like to hear from others on how they've handled the balancing act of giving and participating in things with friends without affecting the relationship - in other words, without changing anyone's perception of you as now being the selfish and/or cheap friend.  Not that I think it's fair people would see MMMers as such but I'm sure some people here have had that happen....
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patchyfacialhair

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It always comes back to "you do you." We're the highest earners of our friend/family circle, yet we have no problem whatsoever telling folks that it's not in the budget to do something they may want to do.

There's a reason they all come to us for questions about money, they know that we know what we're doing.

In your case, it's probably one of two things (or maybe both): she's asking to be polite, but not really depending on you to say yes, or your skin is too thin. It's ok to set boundaries.

Retire-Canada

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Would like to hear from others on how they've handled the balancing act of giving and participating in things with friends without affecting the relationship - in other words, without changing anyone's perception of you as now being the selfish and/or cheap friend.  Not that I think it's fair people would see MMMers as such but I'm sure some people here have had that happen....

In your situation your best friend asked to you to do something not unreasonable so I wouldn't get bent out of shape about it or at least recognise you are the one getting wound up about something small and your problem is with your reaction not with her request. That said it's totally reasonable to just say 1) I don't have any money for this trip as I am saving up for a number of other priority items and 2) I am happy working at home and don't feel like travelling right now. Why in the world would a polite decline change your relationship?

For a personal example I probably have the most disposable income of anyone I travel with and frequently other folks will push to get a vacation rental/hotel vs. camping. When that happens I research the cost of camping [say $30/night for two people at a campground with showers/pool/wifi/laundromat] and I compare and contrast the options for them. So I'll just straight up say I don't want to spend $100/night for 2 weeks/couple when I can spend $30/night. We are travelling to mountain bike so in theory this should be an outdoorsy group that would enjoy tent camping and campfires. I also compromise by offering $30/night camping with nice services vs. $10/night camping with just toilets or $0 night camping with no services. Most of the time they agree. Occasionally they make a good enough case say wet cool weather or short trip where packing camping gear and setup for one night is a hassle and I'll agree to sleep indoors.

I'm not worried at all that people will get mad or think I am "cheap" in a derogatory way. I listen to their points of view and I respectfully discuss the options. I always ask them to get some real numbers and I always get some real camping costs because it's much easier to have a real discussion about a couple specific possibilities than agree on some generalised concept. I also communicate my thoughts on money as part of my normal relationships so they know that I am focused on saving for retirement.

lbmustache

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Most of my friends have been pretty understanding when I say that something is too expensive for me right now, or that it's not in my budget. I'm the lowest earner I think (at $60k! lol) out of our immediate group. I have one group of friends that is quite extravagant - lavish vacations, pricey dinners, and I almost never partake in those activities. I am more than happy to meet up with them for coffee or happy hour, or to maybe do an activity together where my money is a better utilized (like a wine tasting, or whatever).

With my other group of friends, we do rotating dinner parties, just hang at each others homes, or do other things that are low cost or free. I realize I have some privilege in saying this, but I generally don't count small expenses (i.e. a $50 baby shower gift) as something that messes up my budget, or as something I really mull over... but with that said, maybe that's why I'm behind on RE, ha.

Selfish/cheap to me is to continually take from others without giving back.

It's really up to you how much you choose to spend on a friendship. I am personally not in favor of cutting out all spending relating to friends because... they're your friends! And because they are your friends, they should be understanding if you cannot afford something or are not comfortable spending money on something.

jlcnuke

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We live in the same city and I have been getting frequent requests from my friend to fly out with them to the city they are traveling to during one of their work trips.

Now, my friend is very understanding and I'm pretty sure they will "get it" when I explain to them why I won't be going.  However, why do I feel...well...a bit "put off" by this request?  I think the reason is because they keep saying to me "Keep in mind that a flight is only going to cost you about $200 right now which is a steal :)" 

Would like to hear from others on how they've handled the balancing act of giving and participating in things with friends without affecting the relationship - in other words, without changing anyone's perception of you as now being the selfish and/or cheap friend.  Not that I think it's fair people would see MMMers as such but I'm sure some people here have had that happen....

I see two possible responses in your situation:
If you WOULD like to go to the place they are going to be, but just don't have it in your budget right now, then say "thanks for the invite, and it sounds great, but I don't have a trip like that in my budget right now."

If you would NOT like to go to the place they are going to be, then say "thanks for the invite, but I'm really not interested in going there, even if it's a good deal right now."

There really shouldn't be more to it than that. It's more unusual, but the same scenario as if a friend asked you to go "anywhere" that costs money. The responses work just as well for a trip halfway across the country as they do for going to a restaurant in town.

mm1970

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Am I the only one who thinks it's insane to ask a friend to fly to another city and "work from there"?  Just so they aren't lonely?  Um, it would make me want to say "put on your big girl/ big boy panties."

Then again, I never even accompanied my husband on business trips.

Retire-Canada

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Am I the only one who thinks it's insane to ask a friend to fly to another city and "work from there"?  Just so they aren't lonely?  Um, it would make me want to say "put on your big girl/ big boy panties."

Then again, I never even accompanied my husband on business trips.

Insane? No. I've offered to take folks along on business trips since a lot of costs are covered on the assumption that the person 1) would enjoy that and 2) can afford the discounted travel opportunity. Nothing wrong with asking and nothing wrong with saying no. Getting worked up about it on either side of the equation is the part that's pointless.

charis

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Am I the only one who thinks it's insane to ask a friend to fly to another city and "work from there"?  Just so they aren't lonely?  Um, it would make me want to say "put on your big girl/ big boy panties."

Then again, I never even accompanied my husband on business trips.

Insane? No. I've offered to take folks along on business trips since a lot of costs are covered on the assumption that the person 1) would enjoy that and 2) can afford the discounted travel opportunity. Nothing wrong with asking and nothing wrong with saying no. Getting worked up about it on either side of the equation is the part that's pointless.

If it was a desirable location for a low cost, I would definitely be interested in receiving that kind of offer (probably before I had kids), assuming that it fit with my schedule and budget.

calimom

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Am I the only one who thinks it's insane to ask a friend to fly to another city and "work from there"?  Just so they aren't lonely?  Um, it would make me want to say "put on your big girl/ big boy panties."

Then again, I never even accompanied my husband on business trips.

Insane? No. I've offered to take folks along on business trips since a lot of costs are covered on the assumption that the person 1) would enjoy that and 2) can afford the discounted travel opportunity. Nothing wrong with asking and nothing wrong with saying no. Getting worked up about it on either side of the equation is the part that's pointless.

If it was a desirable location for a low cost, I would definitely be interested in receiving that kind of offer (probably before I had kids), assuming that it fit with my schedule and budget.

Same here, but it seems the OP feels she shouldn't afford this right now and resents the expenditure. Her friend will be fine working in the other location without the propping up. They can resume doing fun things when the friend is back in the home location. A good friend should understand.

MayDay

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Am I the only one who thinks it's insane to ask a friend to fly to another city and "work from there"?  Just so they aren't lonely?  Um, it would make me want to say "put on your big girl/ big boy panties."

Then again, I never even accompanied my husband on business trips.

Insane? No. I've offered to take folks along on business trips since a lot of costs are covered on the assumption that the person 1) would enjoy that and 2) can afford the discounted travel opportunity. Nothing wrong with asking and nothing wrong with saying no. Getting worked up about it on either side of the equation is the part that's pointless.

If it was a desirable location for a low cost, I would definitely be interested in receiving that kind of offer (probably before I had kids), assuming that it fit with my schedule and budget.

Same here, but it seems the OP feels she shouldn't afford this right now and resents the expenditure. Her friend will be fine working in the other location without the propping up. They can resume doing fun things when the friend is back in the home location. A good friend should understand.

She very well might understand if the OP is upfront. A simple "I'm not interested in visiting XYZ city, so no thanks" is probably all it takes.

EconDiva

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Am I the only one who thinks it's insane to ask a friend to fly to another city and "work from there"?  Just so they aren't lonely?  Um, it would make me want to say "put on your big girl/ big boy panties."

Then again, I never even accompanied my husband on business trips.

Insane? No. I've offered to take folks along on business trips since a lot of costs are covered on the assumption that the person 1) would enjoy that and 2) can afford the discounted travel opportunity. Nothing wrong with asking and nothing wrong with saying no. Getting worked up about it on either side of the equation is the part that's pointless.

If it was a desirable location for a low cost, I would definitely be interested in receiving that kind of offer (probably before I had kids), assuming that it fit with my schedule and budget.

Same here, but it seems the OP feels she shouldn't afford this right now and resents the expenditure. Her friend will be fine working in the other location without the propping up. They can resume doing fun things when the friend is back in the home location. A good friend should understand.

She very well might understand if the OP is upfront. A simple "I'm not interested in visiting XYZ city, so no thanks" is probably all it takes.

Yeah, that's kinda sorta what I ended up saying.  She wasn't ecstatic I declined by any means as the convo was cut at that point I said I wasn't interested in going but eh, it's not a big deal. 

For the record I'm not "worked up about it".  Was just wondering if anyone else had experienced anything similar where they felt now since being an MMMer that "some" requests from friends involving spending certain amounts of money annoy anyone a bit.  Using this case of paying for a $200 flight...it was for me but it seems/I understand it perhaps wouldn't have been for most.  *Shrugs.*

Kay-Ell

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I have some expensive friends (one group in particular) and quite often struggle to participate, without overspending or coming across as cheap.  An additional struggle for me is when I know for a fact that their finances are not in any position to be spending the kind of money they're spending.  For me that compounds the uncomfortability and makes it hard for me to enjoy the activity because I just wish we could all do something less expensive (more for their sake than mine), and have to remind myself that it's none of my business.

The only advice I can give is to practice and not be afraid to use phrases like "It's not in the budget for me" and "that sounds like fun, but I'm really trying to keep my priorities on X right now" or in the case of the BBQ your friend invited you to, something like "I've really been wanting to try xyz recipe, would it be okay if I brought that?"  It's also helpful to have inexpensive suggestions on hand at all times, and especially when it's an event/gift in your honor.  Whenever I'm asked where I want to go for my birthday, or what I want for Christmas I make sure I'm prepared with something that aligns with my values (dinner at home, or an inexpensive restauraut, a small and useful gift that I've been considering for a while, etc).  Sometimes your friends are struggling with their own impluse control, and perception that they have to spend a lot of money to have fun or show that they value the friendship.  And sometimes giving them permission not to spend money on you/your friendship, and showing them that it doesn't have to be awkward/embarrasing to talk about saving money actually takes some of the pressure off of them.  Obviously, other times that's not true and they'll just look at you weird.  But I've found that the more I am consistently open, unashamed and upbeat about my choices to spend less money, the more my friends seem to admire it.  Also handmade gifts tend to deliver far above the cost.  I do portraits, and give them (nicely but inexpensively framed and matted) as wedding presents, or christmas presents.  Another friend does pottery and massage, and often gives her goods and services away.  Most of the time our friends and family just want to know and show that the relationships matter on both sides.  We've been conditioned to believe that spending money on gifts or activites is the best and most obvious way to show that the relationship has value - but there are lots of other ways to show that.  Figuring out how to do that among our own social groups can be challenging, but also really rewarding.

tooqk4u22

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This is the thing where I think a lot of people here are way to cavalier about it.  Fact of the matter is this group is atypical compared to US society, and that's great.  But that doesn't mean all your friends and family will get it or will want to change. 

Honestly, the responses through out this whole forum when it comes to this such as:
- just go to the restaurant and get only water (no food or drink)
- always do pot lucks
- meet at a park for picnic
- invite them to the library (nevermind you can't talk there)
- never spend money on blah blah blah for friends

It might sound good being all preachy about it, but it's such unrealistic BS unless your friends happen to all be the same way as you.  I have some very good friends that happen to be fairly spendy across the board.  Yes we get together a lot at each others houses and do low cost stuff but the fact is to be friends I have to participate in some of that other stuff - but I do the stuff that I would enjoy (concerts, sometimes nice meals out, and such) and pass on the other stuff.  Sound's like the OP handles it this way too.

For the OP, I may or may not spend $200 flight to do it - maybe a few days alone with the friend would be fun away from the normalcy of home(work during day, goof off at night), maybe its a good place to go, maybe its not.  One thing is for sure though if I don't have the money, then I can't do it.