How To Talk To Your Friends About Money - Women's Health

How To Talk To Your Friends About Money

Your ultimate guide.

by | Oct 13, 2021

We talk to our mates about sex, politics and health, yet conversations around cash are still taboo. Here’s how to tackle those tricky situations and walk away with your group intact…

The dilemma: I lent my friend $200 and they haven’t paid  me back

The Solution: No matter how frustrating this feels, take heart from the fact it’s a very common scenario. Nearly a third of adults say they’ve argued with friends about money, according to a UK poll, with lending it the main cause. “Ask yourself – do you want the money in that moment or would you just like it if they acknowledged the situation?” says Alex Holder, author of Open Up: Why Talking About Money Will Change Your Life (Profile Books, $22.99). Sometimes, just knowing they haven’t forgotten can help you feel better; ask them if it’s OK for you to remind them in a month and follow up then. But if it really is about the money and your resentment is starting to damage the friendship, speak up. “If you don’t ask them, it will just play on your mind and affect your relationship,” Holder adds. If they can’t afford to pay you back, work with them to come up with a repayment plan. Start by asking: “Would $20 a month be easier, rather than the full amount in one go? I’ll send you my bank details again, just in case you don’t have them.” Or, ask for the money in a text message with your bank details attached. “Try to make it as easy as possible for them to pay you back,” adds Holder.

The dilemma: I often choose a small meal and don’t drink, but my friends split the restaurant bill so we all pay the same

The Solution: Ever seen the episode of Friends where a bill is split equally and Phoebe, Joey and Rachel reveal they had smaller meals because they couldn’t afford the same as the others? It hits a tricky truth: some mates don’t realise not everyone has the same budget. The trick is not to wait until the bill comes to tell your friends you only want to pay for what you ate. “Be honest from the start,” says Holder. “If you have one of those friends who orders 10 starters for the table and an extra round of negronis for everyone, try going out with cash only. When you order, say you only have a certain amount on you and will only be ordering a small meal. Don’t be embarrassed about putting the cash down at the end. Say, ‘This is all the cash I have, but it covers my food and drink.’”


The percentage of us who’d rather talk dating problems than money ones.

The dilemma: My mates talk about salaries, but I earn less and worry they’ll judge me

The Solution: “Earning more doesn’t mean someone is more high-achieving or intelligent than you,” says Holder. “Some industries just pay more. You could easily be at a similar level and have a five-figure discrepancy between your salaries. If you love your job, have flexibility or good benefits, does it matter if you earn less?” If you feel uncomfortable sharing your salary, don’t. “Instead, discuss your work benefits (such as parental leave or discounts), spending habits or your experiences about money and work,” says Emilie Bellet, founder of The Wallet podcast and “In time, you may be OK to discuss what you earn.”

The dilemma: If we go on holiday, how can I make sure we pay fairly?

The Solution: No one wants to tarnish a good vacation with arguments over who paid for what. Keep things equal by downloading the Splitwise app before you go. One person creates a “group”. Each time someone makes a payment, such as for a meal, they enter the cost into the app, and tick the names of the people who owe money. At the end of the holiday, the app will work out a split for the group and you can settle up. Simple.

The dilemma: I don’t want to miss out on the fun, but don’t want to get into debt either

The Solution: The FOMO can be real – but giving into the temptation of doing something you can’t afford is not worth getting into debt for, says Bellet. “Take a step back and make a spending plan first by creating a budget,” she advises. “When you’re paid, allocate your income to bills, essential spending, savings and, finally, fun. Every time you do things with friends, only spend from your ‘fun pot’.” To overcome peer pressure, she suggests sharing your financial goals with your mates, and telling them that you’re trying to save a certain amount within a specific period,  say, for a house deposit. “If something is out of your budget, suggest cheaper solutions – you may even find that your friends feel the same, but were afraid to say.” wh

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