Friends and Money

Posted September 15, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Life After Five

Teen Vogue recently tackled the subject of ” Friends And Money: Does Class Affect Who You Hang Out With?” for girls ages 16-21. They talked to girls who strive daily to keep up with their “richer” friends. They also talked to girls from affluent families who sometimes feel ashamed of their own wealth or taken advantage of by friends who know their parents’ net worth. For teens, money becomes a part of their daily vocabulary, especially in the realm of gossip.

Sometimes in our society we equate success and popularity with high-priced items,” says Variny Yim Paladino, coauthor of The Teen Girl’s Gotta-Have-It Guide to Money (Watson-Guptill). Gossiping about who’s broke and who has bank can be a favorite topic of conversation among girls, many of whom say that items like smartphones, purses, and shoes are important status symbols.

Here’s my question: are adult women any better? Take this scenario for instance. You start working in a new office. You have a desk surrounded by 4-5 coworkers with similar desks. A few are men, but most are women. How do you decide which women will become your “work BFFs” and which you might not fit in with as well? You probably look at their clothes, their shoes, their handbags, the way they wear their makeup, etc. If you’re a Louboutin devotee and enjoy dinners at high end restaurants and lunchtime shopping trips to Neiman, you’re going to look for the women who look and dress like you. If you’re eating Ramen for dinner, you’re probably going to avoid those women.

But is that fair? Sure it’s not. It’s not fair that we judge each other based on clothes, money, and where we eat. But it’s something that’s been engrained in us since we were teenagers – maybe even younger.

So how do you deal with the “class system” when it comes to your friends?

  • The same Teen Vogue article tells us “It’s typical for jealousy to arise between pals with different-size bank accounts. “It is OK to feel a pang of envy when you see someone else has something that you want,” she says. “The key is trying to figure out where it stems from and learning how to manage it so that it doesn’t take over your life.” Controlling jealousy comes down to being happy for your friend. If they make more money than you do, model their work style or negotiation tactics to get ahead. If they’re from family money, see that privilege as a non-issue.
  • Teen Vogue also notes, “Transparency is really important in friendships and relationships,” adds Jessie H. O’Neill, author of The Golden Ghetto: The Psychology of Affluence (The Affluenza Project). “People respect honesty.” So make friends with everyone, but be open about what you can and cannot afford. If you can’t go to that high end lunch spot weekly, suggest another more affordable hangout.
  • Make those “splurge” times really special. We’ve all seen the episode of Friends where Joey, Phoebe and Rachel get mad a Chandler, Monica and Ross because they always want to split the check evenly or go to expensive concerts. Instead, spend time in cheap coffee shops and make a big concert a once in a while type thing. Compromise is key if you want to hang with everyone you like, not just the ones who can afford your lifestyle.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."