When you’re a kid, it’s easy to make friends.
You’re put in the same class, you are roughly the same age, and usually sporting activities split you up into smaller interest groups.
Plus, you spend a solid 8 hours a day together playing, learning, and just goofing off (while your food is cooked for you, your transport arranged, and your bed is made).
As we get older, the chances of these magical ‘friendship years’ being re-created can seem like a distant memory.
I know what it’s like.
By the time you’ve run around after your own family, earned a living, and tried to carve out some little chunk of time to pursue the things that are important to you… there doesn’t seem like there’s much energy left over for your friends.
However, there is something far more insidious getting in the way of your adult friendships.
It’s when one person in the friendship is earning more money.
As an investor or trader, it’s something you’ll have to face.
The green eyed monster is always present, so whether you’re hanging out with more successful traders, or if you’re a star performer yourself, you’ll need to consider it.
Here’s how to still stay friends when you’re the one with different earning power in a relationship:
1. Look, listen and learn
Pay attention to subtle cues that suggest your friend is in a different financial situation.
If you’re the one struggling, remind yourself that your friend’s dilemmas are important to them, even if they’re not in your realm of concern.
Whether to holiday in Hawaii or Tahiti could be of key importance to the happiness of their family – so before you scoff, take this into account.
Also realise that while we usually see the entire roll of film of our own lives, we usually only see the highlight reel of our friend’s lives, especially on social media.
If you’re the one with more money, remember that it’s obnoxious to be self-centred and rub people’s noses in it.
Don’t consider your financial fortune as a surrogate for good character.
You must earn your character, the same way you earned your money – through focused attention.
2. Make expectations explicit
Don’t wait until the end of the evening to discuss splitting the bill.
Ask for separate bills, or before you order the lobster, say ‘let’s just all cover our own expenses tonight’, to alleviate any concerns that can wreck a good evening when it becomes a source of anxiety for the one with less cash.
Want to go on a vacation together?
Don’t pretend that you’re OK sharing a room if you’re not.
Little things like this can grate.
And, be careful where you end up holidaying, when your friends have different income levels.
If your wallet is full and you want to shout your financially challenged friend, try framing it around an event – like a birthday present, or an ‘Easter Extravaganza’ present.
And, if you’re on the receiving end, simply say ‘thanks’ and show gratitude, then sit back and enjoy.
(If you can’t treat your friends now and again, it certainly takes the fun out of having an extra stash of money.)
3. Make it less taboo
Let’s face it – it can be tough to talk about money.
Make the first move.
Start talking about money.
Maybe your struggling actor friend can show you how to be more frugal.
Perhaps your Market Wizard mate can help you plan out how much you’ll need to retire in style.
That’s what friends do.
They challenge each other, provide a different perspective, and stick by you, even when your backgrounds are different.
Talk about your money scripts, your financial thermostat, and how you’re bringing up your children and grandchildren.