How to talk about money without ruining friendships

You and your friends might share the same interests, but you probably don’t share the same bank balance. This can make socialising tricky, even with the closest of friends. While one of your buddies can spend on a whim, you feel ashamed that you struggle to make ends meet. And how should one tackle friends who borrow but never pay back? We spoke to Moeshfieka Botha, a debt counsellor with Credit Matters, on how to deal with…

…The friend who never pays enough 

The scenario: Every Saturday, you and your mates watch sport at a bar over a few beers. But there’s one friend who’s making it a habit to hurry out without paying his fair share.

The solution: There are ways of dealing with this without confronting him and hurting his pride, says Moeshfieka. “As you sit down, say: ‘Hey guys, we’re splitting the bill according to who had what, okay?’” He’ll know upfront he has to nurse his beers if he can’t afford them. Or get even smarter by using Capitec Bank’s online tool, the bill splitter, to keep track of who owes what. 

…The friend who always offers to pay

The scenario: You and your girlfriend are shoe shopping. You pick up a pair, see the price and put them straight back: you can’t afford that! Later, your friend surprises you with the shoes. You’re touched, until she buys you a movie ticket and an express manicure too. That’s over the top.

The solution: If this pattern leaves you feeling uneasy, you must be open with your friend. Say something like, “I appreciate what you’ve done for me, but your giving makes me feel like I owe you more than I can repay.” She might be doing it to keep your friendship, as some people do. If that’s the case, then you know to avoid situations, like shopping, where your friend feels the need to give.


…The friend who lives the high life

The scenario: Your friend loves expensive restaurants and has invited you to another one again this month. You want to go but you’re broke. Not having money brings shame and stigma, says Moeshfieka, so people tend to pretend. “They’d rather use a credit card than admit they’re broke.”

The solution: First, you have to face your financial reality. Don’t be forced into debt to save face. Be honest with your friend. Admit that the restaurant is too pricey for you and suggest interesting options within your budget, maybe a MasterChef-style cook-off at home. You could also just join your friend for pre-dinner drinks only.

…The friend who needs a loan 

The scenario: Your friend’s in a bind and has no one to turn to but you. And because it’s an emergency, you quickly deposit the loan through mobile banking. You’re happy you could help, but you’re still wondering if you’ll ever see that money again.

The solution: “Keep a record of what was agreed on,” says Moeshfieka. It doesn’t have to be a fancy legal contract. Simply send an email showing the amount you lent them, the date by which it should be paid back and whether there’ll be any interest. Then resend the email as a reminder when you need to. If the loan is small enough, you might consider giving it as a gift, so long as it’s money you don’t need. If it’s a big sum, it might be better for your relationship to suggest they apply for credit at a bank.

Source: Capitec