“I’d love to, but it’s just not in the budget.” I’ve had to say this quite a bit lately but for some reason it’s never met with, “I understand. Maybe next time!” I’m often left feeling defensive about my spending choices, guilty for not choosing the one that includes what someone else thinks it should, and horrible for in the end giving in and not having enough money to cover my own priorities.
Dear Spendy Friends, here are some tips from your Frugal Friends on how NOT to respond to “I can’t afford it.”
1. “Don’t worry, I’ll cover you.” Impromptu office burrito lunches happen, as does grabbing a beer with a friend who needs an ear. Personally, I don’t mind someone covering a few dollars here and there, because I do it for others and those sorts of things usually even out in the wash among friends and co-workers. But when it’s a large cost item, one that isn’t remotely in the budget in the first place, it’s a really uncomfortable situation to have someone take care of it. Don’t insist. If you offer to pay his way and your frugal friend still declines, respect their decision and move on. Pressing just makes it uncomfortable.
2. “If you invite my friend, I’ll pay for their costs.” Never say this to someone planning an event, especially not to a bride regarding her wedding. Just don’t. There are two lists many couples make when planning a large event or wedding, the “Invited” and “If we can afford it we’d love to invite” lists. If your candidate isn’t on either list, it’s not because of money. Please don’t try to turn someone’s dinner party or wedding into a ticketed event, or make them have to say aloud, “I don’t like your crazy aunt Mildred and I don’t want her or her cats at our wedding.”
3. “So you can’t afford to do this, but you went out to dinner last night.” Great discussion on Budgeting In The Fun Stuff the other day about being called out for being too cheap or too spendy, which comes down to the same issue here. It’s other people passing judgment on your spending priorities and it is absolutely never ok. Think it all you want in the privacy of your own home, but know that if you say this to a friend, you are a bad friend.
4. “Can’t you just borrow some money?” I’ve never heard this from a friend but threw this in because you all are not going to believe this story. I was falling behind on my student loans right after college, and the company I had my loans with was not budging on the monthly amount owed. The customer service rep said to me, “Can’t you just borrow some money from your parents or something?” I’m not even going to begin to get into the ways in which that is a horrible thing to say to someone, and I know you probably wouldn’t say this, Spendy Friends, but let this be a reminder to seriously never EVER say this.
5. “You could if you wanted to.” See also, “If you loved me you’d know what I was thinking.” This is a completely unreasonable thing to say designed to cause guilt and get your way. Stop that.
Spendy Friends, please know that we love you very much and value your friendship. We appreciate your generosity, and that you want so much to have us join you for burritos and beer and weddings that you won’t let money stand in your way. Let’s here and now agree to respect each others’ decisions about money, even when they don’t align, and focus on the conversation and laughter that made us friends in the first place.
What have your Spendy Friends said to you that burns your cheese? Make sure to include how you handled it. I am working on a post about that, and I would love to include your answers!