There are two types of people in this world: budget-conscious shoppers who make the occasional splurge and marathon spenders who throw down cash like they have bottomless bank accounts.
If you're pals with one of these spendy types, then you know how hard it can be to hang with someone who you genuinely like … yet whose purchasing power blows yours out of the water. You may find yourself buying things you don't need (or can't afford) just to keep up, or feeling insecure about your own money situation.
Don't let your emotions surrounding her spending sour your friendship — or your finances. These three steps will help you dial them back.
1. Quit Comparing Yourself to Her
Ever find yourself thinking that if only you had the early career success your friend experienced, then you too would be jetting off on luxe vacations? Or if your parents were more affluent, you would have family cash to burn, like she seems to?
Comparing yourself to others is a normal reflexive habit. But it can also be a tail-chasing exercise that fosters self-doubt about your own life and jealousy of hers. “The famous quote ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ is very spot-on," says Nicole Zangara, author of “Surviving Female Friendships.”
Next time you find your brain making comparisons like these, shift your focus so you remind yourself of your own accomplishments and goals. For example, while you may not be vacationing in the Cayman Islands anytime soon, you are on track to put a down payment on your dream home next year.
Another reason to stop the comparathon: You may not really know why she spends the way she does, or even if she has the funds to pay for her splurges. If a chat about her latest Kate Spade haul crops up, for example, it's not a bad idea to sincerely ask what drives her to drop so much cash in the first place. Her reply might help you understand her motivation and feel less resentful about it, says financial psychologist Anita R. Johnson.
2. Find Ways to Socialize Without Spending
When you’re out and about with your swipe-happy pal, you might be feel resentful that you don't have the funds to slap down the plastic as often as she does … then throw caution to the wind and do it anyway.
To resist overspending, do things with your friend that don't require either of you to shell out excess cash, so the emotional response is less likely to bubble up. "This can get tricky as we get older, since a lot of things cost money,” Zangara says. “However, there are plenty of outdoorsy options, such as taking a walk, hiking or biking together, that require very little." You don't need deep pockets to meet for coffee or a drink, go for a run or take a yoga class together.
We're all for a splurge dinner at a fancy restaurant or spa outing every so often; life's little pleasures are worth paying for if you can. But chatting with your friend in an intimate (and inexpensive) setting takes the temptation to spend off the table.
3. Focus on Your Similarities
Those twinges of envy and insecurity that emerge when you think about your friend's spendy ways? They're signs that instead of focusing on your shared interests and activities, you're preoccupied with what divides you. Concentrating on them too much can weaken your friendship with someone you otherwise like and have a blast with.
Instead of telescoping in on the differences in your spending power, zero in on all the things you have in common: your career field, your addiction to The Walking Dead, those years in college you love reminiscing about.
Better yet, turn your attention to what qualities you have to offer as a friend — like being a good listener or a killer dance-party starter — and how she enriches your life in return in the truest sense of the word.