Friendship Friday: Friends. Money. Imbalance

I am officially the “poorest” of my friends and this is an issue FOR ME on many, many levels.

It means that they are always blessing ME and I can’t do the same for them. It means that we have to go and have breakfast at Penny Lane or Spur or Massimos  instead of at the Table Bay or on a wine farm and it means that, although there is connection and much in common between the parties, there is always this ELEPHANT in the room.

The elephant called Money.

The elephant called Imbalance.

The elephant called Insecurity.

There is even an elephant called PRIDE because I really struggle to accept the expensive help that I get sometimes and I literally have to give myself a serious pep talk.

It means that I have to go to them instead of them coming to me – which I don’t mind.  However, if I was someone who enjoyed entertaining then this probably would affect me.

It means that I can never buy them decent, expensive gifts even though they buy for me – I have to knit something small and cheap.

It means that we can’t go to the Five Flies – we end up at Mugg and Bean instead.

It also impacts my children.  For example, we can’t ALL take our kids to the aquarium or up the cable car or on an overseas holiday. We can’t ALL buy our kids an iPad or an iPod and we can’t all buy branded clothing for our kids. My kids are super spoilt on their birthdays and at Christmas time.  They get the gifts and the toys that I can’t afford to buy them. I was in ToysRUs the other day and saw a gift that one of my friends had bought Child2 for Christmas. It was R699! I nearly had a heart attack. I really cannot buy gifts that cost so much for my kids, let alone for theirs and this further feeds into my insecurity.

I know that this doesn’t really bother them because they surely have a choice, but it DOES bother me. A lot. So much so that I end up staying away after a while. I know that they love me and WANT to bless me. I know that they love me for who I am and what I stand for. I know that they see past the money thing. I just wish that I could see past the money thing.

I always get the cool hand-me-downs (I even got a working computer the other day that my friend was going to throw in the bin or something because she’d upgraded), I always am the one being taken out for a “treat”, and I am always being offered money/loans which I REFUSE btw. I draw the line at lending (or is it borrowing – I forget now) money from friends. My Mom always taught me that friends and money don’t mix and that if I wanted a friendship to be compromised in any way then I must either lend one of them some money or borrow some from one of them. This has ALWAYS stuck with me.

I know that it is more my issue than theirs and I do try to NOT let it bother me but it does.  After a while I start to feel like a “charity case” of sorts. After a while I start to wonder if I am perhaps looking desperate or something. After a while I wonder how the dynamics of the friendship will change when I am no longer in need of hand-me-downs. Will the dynamics of the friendship change when I  no longer need “charity”? Will the dynamics of the friendship change when I am no longer a “project”?

I guess time will tell, because I am currently doing WAY better with the money stuff. We are not out of the woods but we are getting there. Slowly but surely we are FINALLY starting to see flickers of light at the end of the tunnel.

Interestingly enough, I am in a similar situation with another friend where the dynamics of money is such that I am the one in a better financial position and she isn’t. I LOVE to bless her and treat her. If she needs money and I am able to help her then I give it to her as a gift. There is no “debt” between us. BUT. I am very aware of how it may make her feel.

So, this is my question to you:

Are you in friendships where there is an imbalance of sorts where money/wealth is concerned?

Does it affect you in any way? Feel free to tell me if I am reading too much into this and if you think that I need more therapy.

If it does affect you, how do you handle it?

12 thoughts on “Friendship Friday: Friends. Money. Imbalance

  1. So much to say but I’m on the iPad!!!

    I think we earn the least money of all our friends too but I don’t consider us the poorest. LOL my secret is the tithe :) and then you know how straight I am. So I’ll also say, look, I can’t afford x place, can we rather go here? Btw, mugg and bean is not cheap anymore. I keep forgetting til i’m there But they’re also averaging R70 a main meal, even for a burger.

    On the other bigger issues, I think you need to stop comparing, easier said than done, I know, because you and I both know you are blessed and the only reason you stop feeling that is when you compare.

    Truth is ( well for me) even if I wanted to, I would still not buy my kids expensive toys.

    Interesting to think if the dynamic in your friendships will change when you’re out of the woods. If it does, that talks to other things, like when Lea’s friends left her when B got sick.

  2. R699 for a kid that’s not your own’s gift?! Wow…when I buy gifts for other people’s children I think alibg the lines of R200 and below, sometimes R100 and below depending on how close we are.

    Guess you know where to slot me into the money scale then? ;-)

    I don’t let ut bug me

  3. Well. Money and friends don’t always mix, my dad used to say. He also says if your friend asks to borrow money only give them what you don’t expect back so you don’t get upset if it’s not returned. That’s worked well for me over the years!

    On the money scale I’m kind of in the middle: way poorer than some friends and well off than some! Guess it’s the same for most people. I don’t have loads of friends around these parts, so it’s not really an issue for me at the moment (sad, but that’s my reality right now)

    I don’t think you are reading too much into it, the important thing I would think is to be real to yourself and not try to fit in with the Joneses (which you seem to be doing well thus far)

  4. Hi,
    I am a new reader to your blog and have really enjoyed reading all the ‘back posts’, i really love friendship fridays.
    We are the poorest of ALL our friends,lol, we also are renting- where most of our friends not only own there own homes, but have nearly paid them off!
    The money thing does not bother me at all, i am a very straight person and dont feel embarrassed to say something is too expensive for me. Infact , i feel very blessed : )
    The thing i do find hard is not having our ‘own’ home – no matter how small ect. Its not to do with ‘feeling less’ than other people, its to do with stability for our family and putting down roots.

  5. One thing I love about living here is how people are less status and money aware. Seriously I don’t know many who drive a BMW for instance so it really doesn’t feel like there is this big focus on money. It also doesn’t seem the thing to always want to go out for dinner and people are quite happy to come for a BBQ or an afternoon tea or something. With my 2 best friends I most definitely do not feel any pressure and with my one he loves that I give time – that’s the best gift for him. He enjoys doing Youtube recordings or me helping him get stills off his videos and last year I made him a book with all his songs neatly typed up along with a notebook I made which he now uses to write more songs.

  6. I am one of the poorest of my “JHB” friends….it was not always this way. about a year and half ago, my B and I were in good paying jobs..but we had enough of the whole corporate things and within 6 months we both changed jobs. My B tried his hand in his own business ..and I took a better condition work environment position for less money. This was a huge transition…and we battle every month. We had to sell my car one month to survive(hence I drive a scooter). I do get depressed every now and again…but overall I am very blessed. As for friends, I never go to dinners purely because I cannot justify spending that money when bills have to be paid. I do not have my hair and nails done purely because I could do something better with that money. I am not shy about being “poorer”, I have so much more than many others. I also tell people “Sorry, can’t afford it”. True friendship is about compromise. Fortunately, I have a friend in the same boat…and she will come and visit me. We will open a 2L coke, a packet of chips and have a “lekker” kuier. True friendship is about moments…not about money..Laughter does not cost a thing and goes along way to making you feel better.

  7. Oh yes! Mainly with Davids friends because alot of them dont have kids or any sort of hectic commitments like we do.

    We manage and I try not let it bug me. My kids get a R400 gift from a friend and I can only spend R100 – it has never stopped a friendship before :)

    We do pick and choose which events we go to with Ds friends mainly cos it is 80% of the time in a restaurant and not only is cash tight but we have no baby sitters so going out without kids takes planning and has to be a special occasion.

    I have friends who are where we are and we full in the gaps for each other – we help where we can and it all just works.

    Money doesnt bug me as much as David.

  8. Our very best friends are incredibly well off , as in 2 x Audi Q7 in the garage, 3 houses paid for (one a holiday home) another 1/4 share in a holiday condo and many more. But here’s the thing – even though the whole family goes oversees this June for 3 weeks (and the mom has just been for 2 weeks) you would never know. They live simply, the kids have a few nice things, but no expensive toys. They love hand me downs from the Princess (they have 3 girls) We eat at ordinary places, we camp together, we had a simple boerie braai at Rietvlei on Friday. We go to the drive in togehter. They do not even have DSTV – they have decided to go the simple life route. For that I am incredibly thankful and very much in awe. They give us a week in their holiday place every year – for which I am also very very thankful and we return in helping them where we can with practical issues etc.

    I think what I am trying to say is that it is not only about you, but more about attitude. Yours and theirs. The best friends ever.

    As to the rest I do know that we are not the best off, but certainly not the worst either.

  9. I have never defined my friendships by how rich or poor our friends are. We have a wide variety of friends. Some so wealthy that it is obscene and some so poor that we often bless them with money or even food. I have also seen one of my best and precious friends go from being super rich, with holiday homes in Mauritius, Cape Town and Mosselbay to so poor that they don’t have food in the house. That didn’t make me love or respect them less.

    Have you heard of Brene Brown. She wrote two books: One on “Shame” called “I Thought it Was Just Me (But it Isn’t)” and another called “The Gifts of Imperfection”. These books are awesome and life changing. You learn to embrace your imperfections and live whole heartedly.

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