How to navigate wealth gaps in friendships

As the days go by, we begin to realise that we are getting older, our priorities are changing and the differences in salary or income between friends are becoming more apparent.

In any group of friends, some are killing it financially, while others are still struggling to make ends meet. Yet the friendship must continue.

So how do you manage the wealth gap in these friendships?

1. Gain financial literacy

The whole group needs to become financially literate to understand the different financial statuses. They will come to understand that financial differences vary greatly due to factors such as income, debts, investments and expenses. This understanding will prevent misunderstanding, judgement and over-dependence, and will help you to develop empathy and patience with each other. Read finance books, listen to podcasts or follow financial experts on social media to become more financially literate.

2. Balance and prioritise

Being in a group of friends’ means doing things together. This can lead you to overspend on things you don’t want to do. Always know when to cut back. If overspending is going to hurt your pocketbook, don’t do it. Your friends will understand; they are your friends. Similarly, if you always have to spend money on your friends just because you earn more than them, set your priorities and know how far you can go. Prioritising always goes hand in hand with setting limits. Oh, and always have a budget.

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3. Talk it out

Finances are a tough nut to crack, not just in groups of friends, but in life in general. While it may be difficult to talk openly about how much you earn or how you earn it, it doesn’t hurt to talk about budgets, spending expectations or joint expenses, just to make sure everyone is on the same page. This will help you avoid disagreements, overdependence or overburdening others. Avoid giving unsolicited financial advice or acting as if you have all the answers. Ride in the same boat and find solutions together.

4. Seize the opportunity to grow

Friends who earn more can always find ways to help those who earn less. Apart from going out or having small conversations, create an environment within the circle that encourages personal growth and financial empowerment. However, this should not create a sense of entitlement or leave room for contempt or resentment.

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5. Avoid comparison

This is the simplest, yet most important tip. Stay in your lane, or rather, run your race. Comparison is the thief of joy. Celebrate each other’s victories and mourn each other’s losses, but do not compare yourselves. Focus on common interests and values rather than comparing wealth. Remember that wealth is not the only measure of a person’s worth, and that true friendships are built on genuine relationships.

It is easy for those who earn less to be seen as lazy or less ambitious, while those who are wealthy may be seen as privileged. That’s why it’s important to know who’s in your circle. Gaps in wealth only expose the bonds or the shells in your relationships. So it is more important than anything to have the right people around you.