How to express your money boundaries with your friends

Cost of living crisis: 5 expert-approved ways to set financial boundaries with your friends

Five handy responses to keep in your arsenal when the panic starts to arise at yet another spendy brunch.

Along with discussing religion and politics, one subject that has always been considered a social faux pas to broach is money.

While salaries and savings might not feel like ideal dinner party chat, it’s certainly something we need to become more open about, as the current economic climate makes being honest about our financial situations a necessity.

The rising cost of living is having a very real (and very scary) impact on the everyday lives of most people.

According to research by consultants Lane Clark & Peacock, the number of employees in the UK borrowing to meet basic needs has increased to more than three in five, and over 54% of employees say they do not feel in control of their financial future.

And yet, kindly telling a friend their big birthday weekend is out of our budget or suggesting a cheaper alternative to a date is something we still cringe at the thought of, lest we look “stingy” or a “killjoy”.

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But the reality is that in any given friendship group, each person will have different spending priorities, salaries and financial boundaries. So why are we awkward about communicating them?

In a helpful Instagram post, Ashley Feinstein Gerstley aka The Fiscal Femme and personal finance site The Financial Diet broke down five common situations where financial boundaries are imperative, and how to communicate them without feeling uncomfortable. 

How to set money boundaries with your friends

When a friend asks you for money

Many people consider this one of the most awkward predicaments to find yourself in, particularly with a loved one or close friend. Of course, you want to do everything you can to assist them and ease the burden, but you may not have the means – or simply want – to do so.

Approaching the subject sensitively, try expressing the following: “I’d love to help but I’m not in a position to loan money.”

It reinforces that you’re there to support them, but that it’s not within your capability to do so financially. You can combine it with reassuring them that you’ll lend a helping hand, whether it’s looking for jobs, selling their old clothes for cash or just listening to their stresses.

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When you’re invited somewhere that’s too expensive

We’ve all been there: frantically scanning the menu at a fancy restaurant for the most affordable option, without making it seem obvious that we’re trying to scrimp.

Feinstein Gerstley recommends eliminating that stress altogether by being honest about your spending capabilities.

“This spot looks great! I’m on a budget right now though. How about [a more budget-friendly option] instead?” is her go-to for a simple redirection that will keep both you and your friend happy. 

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When you want a friend to pay you back

One of the most difficult social situations to navigate, you find yourself desperately trying not to be that person who’s straight out the gate with a Monzo request but also rightfully wanting to be paid back.

Take your lead from Feinstein Gerstley with a no-nonsense: “I had so much fun tonight! Can you transfer me for the £ before we go? Thanks!”

It should be no problem for a good friend to pay you what you’re owed.

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When someone wants to split the bill equally

You’re out with a group and they want to split the bill equally despite the fact they’ve had twice the courses and drinks you have – what do you do? 

“Since we all got different amounts of food, let’s each pay for our own order,” is the line Feinstein Gerstley suggests. It’s polite and clear and you can always offer to help with the dividing up to avoid tricky follow ups about much “easier” splitting is. 

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When you don’t want to talk about your finances

While a certain openness is the way forward for creating financial boundaries, remember that you don’t have to disclose anything you don’t feel comfortable with.

You can always shut down intrusive lines of questioning with a simple: “I’d rather not discuss that.”

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Images: Getty