Money Matters: Are Your Friends Increasing Your Debt?

It’s your BFF. You’ve known her since you were five. And yeah, you just spent a whole paycheck on housing, but you still need her to hang out. But still, you’re both broke, college students. So who’s taking the brunt, financially? If you feel like you are controlling your spending, but still can’t figure out where your cash is going… I hate to say it, but it might be your friends.

1. The Gas-Guzzling Gretchen.

You know that friend who always has an excuse NOT to drive? Sure, if you’re traveling far, you might mention splitting the cost of gas beforehand…. but when it’s someplace close, it’s hard to notice. “My backseat is full of clothes, nobody will fit back there,” or “I”m really tired, I can go out, but I don’t want to focus on driving later.” These excuses are fine from time to time, but if you realize your car is the only one getting mileage, you may want to reconsider your gas costs. It’s easy not to care when your friend needs a ride down the street, but when it becomes a daily “favor,” you end up paying.

2. The No-Cash Nancy.

With direct deposit, who the hell ever has cash nowadays? Unfortunately, this can become an excuse, and the little things can add up. $10 minimum for the card at dollar-night? If you have cash, why not cover this round? Going on a road trip, and she only has a card? Guess what- it’s on you. Sure, you don’t want to keep tabs on your friends, but a stick of gum here and a cash-only Gucci knockoff there can really add up.

3. The Homeless Harriet.

Friends truly don’t let friends drive drunk. But if you’re the gal with the on-campus apartment, it becomes the norm for people to crash at your place, especially if it’s walking distance from the pub. This might not seem like a big deal, but if you have water or electric bills to pay, you’re going to have to dig deep to make sure your friends get home safe. Even if you’re in student housing, where everything is prepaid, you’re probably going to cough up some free drunk-ass ramen noodles or a few bottles of spring water. This might not seem like a big deal, but I bet if you kept a tab, you’d end up with a whole night of free boozing for the cost it takes to be cordial to your guests.

4. The “I’ll Get the Next One” Alice

Similar to the No-Cash Nancy, Alice insists that you are such good friends, you don’t need to keep official tallies. However, she also is prone to making sure she always gets the good half of any bargain. “Let’s go drink-for-drink” you say, so Alice invites you to an expensive martini bar, where you shell out at LEAST $10 per martini, plus tip. When the drinks are over, Alice says she knows a place with more atmosphere, and brings you to a dive that happens to serve $1 Natty Lites. She buys you a beer, and stiffs the bartender. The damage? You– $25. Her– $2. But hey, she bought you a drink, didn’t she?

How can you really say “NO” to your friends, the people who bail you out of tough times over and over? You really can’t. And some friends know it. And some friends DON’T realize it, but inadvertantly rob you nonetheless. It can be very difficult to bring up, even though “Hey, why don’t you spot me a $1-Menu Breakfast, since I paid for those the entire hotel for spring break” sounds like a reasonable request.

Don’t let yourself get walked over. Your buds might not even notice that they are making out like bandits while you are selling your Sociology book to cover their bar tabs. Be honest and direct with your pals if you think you are getting the shaft, and you’ll find you have more money in your checking account… and a solid friendship to boot.

Slogging Through Lent
Slogging Through Lent
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