We’ve all been the broke friend at some point in our lives.
A hangout has been fixed and the place chosen by your friends is way over your budget. Your friend who would spend a million bucks on bottled water needs a big loan and comes to you, but you’re never financially available.
We’ve all wondered how to handle being the broke friend at some point in our lives. If you haven’t, you are very lucky.
A few months ago, I had to lend money to a rich friend who always comes through for me. That money set me back a few good weeks but I didn’t want to be the friend who is never financially available. I wanted to be valued in this respect for once. This wasn’t a sustainable habit, and it was for this reason I had to learn how to handle my rich friends without losing my newfound reputation.
You may never become that rich friend (not saying that you can’t ever improve your financial status in life), but you can still keep up with your rich friends. This is not a means to share financial knowledge or some get-rich scheme, but a guide to financial discipline.
Here are some tips I discovered
Stick to your budget
I learned to live within my means. Growing up struggling to provide for my wants, I focused on food, clothing, and shelter. So long as I could do these for myself and those closest to me, I was good.
Don’t get intimidated into parting with resources that would deprive you of your basic needs.
Learn how to prioritize your spending.
I’ve always been a budgeter. However, I exceed my budget sometimes – I have a terrible sweet tooth. I love pastries, chocolates, sweets, juices, and every other sweet thing you can think of and most times, I find it hard to resist them. These things affected my budgeting and a nice time with my family, friends, or my partner was a luxury I couldn’t afford.
Life still happens a lot to me, and I still have my sweet tooth. However, I found a useful budgeting hack – Nigerian Fintech apps. I decided to take my savings seriously and created a few savings goals. I decided that on a monthly basis, I’d share my savings amount thus: my savings will 30% of my income and I’d use what’s left in my bank account for my monthly expenses including bills (which, thankfully, are not so much).
It hasn’t been a foolproof way to go about it, but it has saved me a lot so far. Budgeting also goes a long way in helping you keep up with your rich friends as you are able to see which activity you may or may not participate in instead of having to run around in circles just to keep up.
Try to discover your own budgeting hack and save yourself the trouble.
Be the innovative friend
I consider being the dumb friend even worse than being the broke friend.
A friend or colleague who never has ideas to contribute when a hangout is being planned can draw other friends back. Even if the person has the money to contribute, he will only turn out to be a cash cow and can be forgone for someone who can put his money where his mouth is.
Your budget may not allow you the space for that outing. You could just keep saying, “No, thank you. Maybe next time,” and be let off the hook so often that, eventually, your friends will stop asking you. But if you follow it up with an alternative suggestion – one that won’t hurt your pockets and still make sense, you could easily become the MVP in the squad.
Try to employ innovation rather than excuses most times.
Find the level-headed rich friend in your circle and be open to them
This one needs no explanation.
No man is an island, especially when it comes to financial issues. That friend who always comes through for you should know about your struggles with money. Talk to that friend and you’ll be surprised. I pulled all the stops to gather the money I lent to my friend because I just didn’t want to disappoint him because he always came through in my times of need and for me not to be there for him just this once would seem selfish.
He knew that it had affected my finances in some way and since then, he had always had my back, even more, giving me tips and plugging me into opportunities to increase my income. I realized that I could’ve been a lot better financially if I had been more open about my worries.
Try to reach out to people for help when necessary.
Make the most of what you can get for free
I’m now a master at this.
No, this doesn’t make you a freeloader. It only means you’re leveraging on opportunities that could allow you to spend less or not spend at all.
One time, I went out with a few friends without actually knowing how much we were going to spend. I had a budget for this outing but still felt uneasy because of the crowd I was rolling with. By the time everything was done, I offered to pay for everybody’s transport back home. That contribution paled compared to the cost we incurred at the hangout, but it was appreciated.
In another instance, I was thinking about how to take my girlfriend out on a date. Luckily, a friend was hosting an event with food and drinks on the menu. You can already tell what I did next. We both went, networked, and had fun. Afterward, which we went to one of the parks in Lagos to eat Shawarma and enjoy the view.
Your innovation also comes into play in times like these. This way, you can keep up with your rich friends and never be seen as the broke friend.
Eat before going out with friends
On one occasion, I was out with friends at a local hangout and I noticed that one of them only ordered something light. I splurged that day because I was ready for it.
I was sure that he ordered it just because he didn’t feel like it, not because he couldn’t afford what was on the menu so, I asked him, and he said he had something to eat just before we called him to join us. I learned something from it which didn’t really click until recently when I was putting these strategies together – eating before such outings is a foolproof way to save money.
These days, I cook regularly and always have foodstuff no matter how bad it gets for me. I make sure that I eat well enough every day so that I have a full tank for whenever those kinds of calls come in. This trick helps at work too as salaries are barely enough to live on due to how volatile the economy is.
Imagine having to eat out every day at work with your colleagues on a ₦70,000 salary, from which you transport yourself to work daily, pay bills, and send some money home.
Eat before you go out with friends or you’ll be forced to play catch up until you can’t run anymore and you’re left in the lurch.