There's A Huge Conversation Right Now About People Who "Can't Afford" Their Friends, And It's A Really Important Topic That We Need To Address

Refinery29 recently published an article titled "I Can't Afford My Friends Anymore" that delves into the correlation between friendships and money in today's society.

"I'm broke."

To summarize, it talks about a falling out a woman and her friend had during a trip due to their very different financial positions. It also talks about socializing being a "luxury" due to today's expenses/inflation. The article references a study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma, which found that more than a third of Gen Z and millennials have a friend who pushes them to overspend.

A person showing their empty wallet
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There were some interesting comments from the article, including ones where financially well-off people were fine just paying for their friends. A commenter named JUST_JORDAN shared, "I make way (way, way) more than almost all of my friends, and I'd always rather pay for everyone than compromise on what kinds of stuff we can do because of their budget. Why would I want to make all this money if not to afford nice things for the people I love?"

Someone counting money
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The topic has since been shared on Reddit where u/Sage_Planter asked people if their friend groups had problems due to finances and, if so, how people navigated it.

A person showing their empty pockets
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First up, in response to the commenters from the Refinery29 article who said they paid for all their friends, someone on Reddit said it "made their heart hurt." "It's interesting to me to read the comments from wealthy people who would rather just pay for their friends than compromise what they want to do with zero thought about how consistently doing that can make the lower-earner friend feel," said u/valerie_stardust.

A woman cupping her cheek in front of her mirror
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A late-20-something-year-old who said they were in a "very socially active friend circle" chimed in, explaining her experience. "There is so much peer pressure within my social circle to spend money, and you’re kind of judged if you miss a friend group event to save money. I didn’t want to go to a dinner one time in hopes of saving $80–$100 (we always split apps, you’ll get side comments/peer pressure for not getting a drink…), and I don’t think I heard the end of it for a few days."

She went on saying, "And I’ve had a friend make judgmental remarks about where I choose to spend money and say things like 'for someone that’s so obsessed with budgeting, that’s interesting you spend so much in this category.' We do a 'staying in' activity maybe once every month or two, and that still ends up costing money because everyone’s expected to bring wine, and chip in for the Uber Eats order or whatever, LOL. And then people want to Uber both ways, and that’s always expensive. It’s really hard to say no without FOMO."


"This is so relatable for me. I’m 30 and work in government (and still make six figures, which is rare, LOL), but my friends all work in the private sector and make mid-to-high six figures. We used to make fun weekend trips to the mountains for hikes or get a cheap happy hour, but now, they all go to Europe annually for long two-week trips and only eat at nicer restaurants. I’ve actually gone into some credit card debt trying to balance these friendships with my budget, so I’m trying to reset now — proposing walks or park hangs instead of dinner, hosting instead of going out, etc. I’m very happy with my current situation, and career, but I can’t help but feel a little down when I think about how my friends will always be a little out of reach for the rest of our careers."

A man looking deep in thought

It's very clear that money does play into friendships these days, and a lot of people are trying to learn how to navigate it.

"I don't know what I'm going"

"I make more than my friends, and I like to know where I spend my money. A lot of my friends who make less than me always invite me to expensive restaurants and expect me to pay some portion of their share. One example would be: I would get an appetizer, and my friends would get drinks, appetizers, a main course, and dessert and expect me to pay an equal share of that. I didn’t mind for so long since I make more, but now, I am just paying for my portion. I am also hanging out less and less with this type of friend group because it seems the emphasis today is to look wealthy and spend on pretentious restaurants, and take Instagram photos rather than actually hanging out and building relationships with friends."

People having dinner together

"I make the most money in the friend group, but since I moved an hour away and bought a house, my 'going out' budget has been slashed. All of my friends still live in the city, and they go out for drinks all the time. It's been hard to say no to events and nights out, especially since I used to go out a LOT. I feel left out sometimes, even though my friends still invite me to do things," said u/milliefmills.

"I'm trying to be much more intentional with spending, and I have let them know that. I'm doing a no-spend month in September so that I can pay down my credit card, but I didn't want to go a whole month without seeing my friends, so I suggested they come down to my house one weekend for a hiking trip and sleepover. They are very understanding and open to doing less expensive things together, and I feel grateful to have people in my life who want to be around me regardless of the venue," they added.

"I try to plan social things a week or more in advance so that I can have one thing to do with friends/family a week. If someone asks to go to dinner a day or two from now, I ask if we can reschedule for the following week so I have the cash to set aside," said u/nickmillerism sharing how they have been working it out.

A calendar with a day circled
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"I planned a group vacation for this past spring with two of my close friends from school. Figuring out budget stuff was pretty hard. Two of us are in a similar income bracket ($60k–$70k), but our other friend makes significantly less. It definitely requires a lot of communication from everyone. There were a few times when we had to explicitly say, 'Are you comfortable paying for this?' We’re still friends, so I don’t think this was the worst way to go about the budget talk. But it can be uncomfortable!"

A group of men talking

"The last time I went out to lunch with my friends, my husband and I paid $150. I had the smallest salad in the world and a Coke. We stopped going out to eat with these people. This was in 2022, and I've only seen them at a holiday party and a co-ed baby shower since."

A salad

So, do you find yourself in this predicament? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!