When your friends are moochers
Are you starting to feel like a human ATM? Here's how to call friends on their hands-out behavior.
In "Can you afford to have friends?" I noted that nearly 20% of people in a survey said they spend $500 or more each year on gifts for friends. Anyone else here thinking, "Where can I find some friends like that?"
A related survey question was just as interesting: Almost one-third (31%) spend more on their friends than their friends do on them.
Part of me knows there could be good reasons for that. Part of me wants to tap these folks on the shoulder and ask, "Are your friends moochers?"
I can think of several reasons why you might spend more than is spent on you:
- You like to give "just because" gifts versus something for birthdays and holidays.
- You make more money than your friends and like to spread the wealth around.
- You're too busy/not inclined to shop for bargains, even online.
- Your friends are moochers.
Sometimes friends treat friends as a gesture of affection and care. Nobody wants to think that a pal would draft off him, financially speaking.
But most of us know someone who conveniently "forgets" her wallet or debit card during social outings. That kind of person may just as conveniently forget that she promised to pay you back.
And do any of these types look familiar?
- The guy who orders $20 worth of beer and snacks and throws a $20 into the payment pile rather than include his share of tax and tip.
- The friend you treat to dinner but who reciprocates at Starbucks: "You paid last time, so this is on me," as though a flavored iced tea is equivalent to appetizer, entree and a glass of wine.
- The pal who pleads for a $100 loan. Two weeks later you still haven't heard from him, but you see Facebook photos of him and his date at a hot new nightclub. Well, now you know why he needed the money. (Post continues below video.)
The meaning of friendship
If you've had enough, call a friend on his/her behavior:
- "You keep forgetting your debit card. Make sure you have it tonight."
- "Dinner? Sounds great, but I'm not in a position right now to split the check evenly."
- "Sorry, but I paid your cover charge the last two times we went out. I can't afford to keep doing that."
This isn't a matter of to-the-penny payback. It's a question about the meaning of friendship. I've heard tales of "friends" who stop wanting to hang out once they understand that the bank is closed. Instead, they move on to a new crop of easy marks.
This may happen to you, too. Prepare to feel angry or disrespected. You might also genuinely miss that person's company. Unfortunately, all the other person misses is your wallet.
Personally, I treat friends and relatives as often as I can get away with it. Sometimes I find frugal ways to do it: paying with discounted gift cards, buying from daily deal sites, shopping clearance tables or thrift stores.
But when someone expects his way to be paid every single time, or borrows money and doesn't pay it back, ask yourself whether he's really a friend. Would someone who cares about you treat you like a trust fund?
Readers: Have you ever had to stop enabling a moocher? Any tips to share?
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