“You should so buy that dress. It looks like it was made for you!”
“Nice purse. How much did that cost?”
“Can you spot me for dinner? I’ll get you back next time … ”
While usually there’s no one more supportive than our girlfriends, we also know there are a lot of funny things we say when it comes to money.
And the fact is, there are certain types of “friends” who can be downright hazardous to your financial health.
Sometimes their influence is so subtle you might not even realize they’re impacting your spending patterns. But studies have proven that everything from how much we weigh to how much we spend—and the investment decisions we make—are affected by who we’re closest to.
Which is why we decided to take a closer look at the most common types of financial frenemies—in other words, our field guide to pals you might want to steer clear of, at least when you have your wallet in hand, or a budget in place.
If you have a frenemy who fits this description, or know a different type, please share in the comments.
She can (and will) cajole you into buying that expensive dress you don’t really need. Or the face cream that breaks the bank. While totally supportive—“that looks so good on you, you have to get it”—this friend can also threaten your ability to pay the rent.
How She Can Hurt You: You’ll often walk away in stun mode, not even realizing how much you money you just dropped until a look at your bank balance jolts you back to reality. Fun, and frequently a hedonist, the Enabler makes a great shopping friend—as long as you have the cash to burn.
How to Neutralize Her: While you’ll never change her ways, you can be prepared for her antics. When out with her, only bring as much cash as you’re willing to spend, so you don’t wind up with “amazing” stilettos you only wear once.
The Miser isn’t someone who’s genuinely strapped for cash—she just doesn’t like parting with it. When the check comes, she informs you that you owe her eight dollars and twelve and a half cents because, “You ate three more french fries than me.” When planning a friend’s bachelorette party, she’s the one who insists that the extra cupcakes are “way too expensive,” and, besides, “Who eats dessert?”
How She Can Hurt You: If you’re the type who’s too polite to ask her to pay up, you risk dropping more than your fair share every time. She can also cause everyone else’s extra spending to cover her cheapness—done in the hopes of silencing her whining.
How to Neutralize Her: There’s a difference between genuinely being on a tight budget and just being cheap. The Miser has deep-rooted security issues around money, so don’t count on changing this perspective overnight. When it comes to group expenditures, try getting her to focus on the event, the people and the happiness instead of the dollars. If she really doesn’t want to pony up the cash, give her a chance to contribute in other ways (time, DIY, etc.)
Competitive and insecure, she’s the type who never fails to mention how much the guy she’s dating makes. Or how much the amazing apartment she just bought cost. And she just loves to namedrop that private school her kids go to.
How She Can Hurt You: Besides making your money comparisonitis flare up each time you see her, the one-upper can inspire competitive spending. You might feel pressure to drop more cash if you’re with her (even if you know you shouldn’t), or buy your kid something you ordinarily wouldn’t just to keep up.
How to Neutralize Her: The One-Upper’s primary aim is attention. You can ignore her brags, which she’ll find maddening, or validate her (“Your new convertible is amazing.”). If it’s a good friend with an annoying habit, level with her and explain that all this talk about money is making you feel bad.
She never saw something you own that she didn’t want, and she’s blessed with a short-term memory. This is the friend who’s always asking you to spot her cash, or loan her your cute shoes—and forgetting to give them back. Never mind reimbursing you for her airline ticket you put on your credit card for your vacation together last year.
How She Can Hurt You: That bald spot in your closet where your favorite dress used to hang? The $300 on your statement she has yet to pay back? The Moocher is like the Bermuda Triangle of pals, making stuff disappear so magically you often don’t even notice. Because you’re her friend, not her bank, she doesn’t take her debts to you seriously.
How to Neutralize Her: She’s certainly not afraid to ask, which means you can’t be shy about saying no. Next time the Moocher strikes, ask yourself these questions before indulging her demands: Is the item valuable to you? Can she easily afford to buy it herself? If it’s money, are you comfortable giving up that much and drawing up a contract? Does she make a habit of this type of behavior?
She wants to know how much you pay in rent, how much you have in the bank, what your annual salary is—and how much that raise was that you just got. And that’s just over breakfast.
How She Can Hurt You: The Pryer loves to pump you for info you’d usually only share with your financial planner. She’s likely not asking out of concern for your well-being, so anything you tell her can and may well be used against you. Be particularly wary if the Pryer in your life is a colleague or a relative.
How to Neutralize Her: Whether she’s a born gossip or suffering from a bad case of comparisonitis, the fact remains: This just isn’t her business. You can deflect her questions politely with a, “Rent? Well, I definitely pay more than I did last year,” or confront her more directly: “Would you like to know my net worth, too?”
She doesn’t get how you can do that “corporate” job. She didn’t come to your wedding because you were part of the “matrimonial-industrial complex.” And if you ask, “Isn’t my new shirt cute?” she’ll reply, “Sure—if you’re into child labor.”
How She Can Hurt You: Your wallet is probably safe, but a Purist can do a number on your confidence. You may find yourself wondering whether registering for your wedding is pure evil—or second-guessing your well-paid career. Every purchase, and every step in your life path different from her own will leave you open to her scrutiny.
How to Neutralize Her: It depends. If it’s an old friend you’ve grown away from, you can explain that, while you know your values differ, her judging makes you feel like she’s tearing you down. If she’s an acquaintance, or a co-worker, just change the subject, or try: “I’m sorry, I really have a lot of work today.” If she keeps it up, you might decide your life would be purer without her.
7The Green-Eyed Monster
“Wow, that’s an expensive bag.” “Oh, you can afford a full-time nanny?” “Nice watch.” The Monster tends to be jealous and suspicious—particularly of things and lifestyle choices. Her favorite exclamation? “Must be nice.”
How She Can Hurt You: Similar to the Pryer, the Monster’s sniping can result in your feeling guilty each time you’re with her, without knowing exactly why. You may find yourself second-guessing your choices, reassuring her, or playing down your accomplishments or leaving behind that new bag so as not to push her buttons.
How to Neutralize Her: The key here is to realize it’s not you, it’s her. While you don’t want to flaunt what you’ve got—especially if she really does have less—being disingenuous (“Oh, this old watch? It didn’t cost that much …”) won’t help anyone. The better response? “Thanks. It’s really special to me.”
She’s perfectly lovely—she’s just in a tax bracket you can barely conceive of. As your wealthiest friend, the Baller usually leads an exciting life: “Just got back from the Maldives. Want to meet for lunch at Jean Georges?” and may not even realize her fabu lifestyle makes you feel insecure.
How She Can Hurt You: She’ll naturally pick the restaurant that will max out your credit card—it’s just how she rolls. But, more than frequenting places with prices that make you blanch, you may find yourself envious of all the Baller has—and feigning a bank balance you can’t keep up.
How to Neutralize Her: It’s normal to feel jealous (who doesn’t want the new Chanel bag, or a country house in the south of France?), but, unless she’s rubbing it in, you can’t really blame the Baller. What you can do: Use your jealousy to pinpoint what you really want. Maybe her fancy car(s) leave you cold, but you really envy her exotic vacations—which you can budget for. However, if spending time with the Baller really does makes you feel bad, you may need to create some distance. Or introduce her to your lifestyle, like that hole-in-the-wall Ethiopian place you love. You never know, she might really enjoy it.