I’m blessed to have many hardworking, intelligent friends and family who make more money than I do.
All of my friends went to school for longer than I did and many have graduate degrees. They have all made great career choices which are now paying off. My best friend makes 3 times what I normally do and another friend makes multiples of that higher number. My family also makes more money than I do.
This can be both a blessing and a curse. Having friends that make more money than I do can be inspiring and I like to surround myself with people that are of a high caliber to raise my own. It can also be a curse since it sometimes encourages envy over the things my friends are able to do that I can’t.
So what do you do when your friends make more money than you? How do you cope? Let’s look at some solutions.
Why Does Income Between Friends Matter?
In a perfect world money and friendship would have nothing to do with each other. The bond of friendship would not be affected by how much money you have or make.
Yet in the real world these things do affect friendship. Money and social interactions are constantly interacting and affecting each other and this can sometimes cause discomfort within relationships or internally.
The most common situation where money can affect friendships is in socializing.
If you have less money than your friends you might find yourself struggling to keep up with the social calendar set by those with money disposable income.
Originally I found this to be true but I’ve done the work needed to feel better about living with less but still keeping my amazing friends.
What Is Financial Resentment?
Unfortunately, sometimes friends making different income levels can lead to financial resentment.
In her book, End Financial Stress Now, Emily Guy Birken says that financial resentment can cause problems in friendships and turn us off money entirely.
“Financial resentment is a corrosive emotion, which leads to two types of self-defeating behavior: abandoning financial goals, and trying to get even,” Birken told us.
Neither of these reactions to financial resentment are healthy or good. When you give up on your own financial goals you lose and when you try to get even you lose friendships. Resentment over financial issues can lead to significant struggles in your life.
Learning to let go of financial resentment over money is the only way to have healthy relationships with friends who make more money than you do.
What To Do When Your Friends Make More Money Than You
These are the things I’ve done personally to handle my friends making more money than I do.
Be honest about the situation.
Today my friend asked me to go to lunch but my budget just doesn’t have room for another lunch. I told her as much and we arranged for hanging out later without buying a meal.
Talking about money can be uncomfortable but true friends will understand that you have a budget and want to stick to it. They might even admire your budgeting skills that they might not have.
It can eliminate resentment on both sides when you are upfront about the situation so you can work around it.
Pick inexpensive social activities.
Spending time together is the main goal so choose activities that don’t cost a dime.
Arrange to go hiking on a beautiful day or get together for a pickup game at the local park.
There are lots of activities you can do together, especially outside, that can be done for free. Here are lots of ways to have fun without spending money!
Plan a frugal event.
There are lots of frugal ways to enjoy a weekend or spend time with your friends.
Arrange for a potluck where everyone can show off their culinary skills or create a book club that meets weekly or monthly to discuss great books.
Planning frugal events you can invite friends to will fill up your social calendar and take less pressure off you to spend money spending time together.
Don’t overextend yourself.
Spending more money than you have to keep up with your friends who earn more is a terrible idea.
It will lead to debt and an even worse financial situation than you started with.
Learn to say no and live within your means rather than taking on debt to live a lifestyle you can’t afford.
Make a budget for yourself that includes spending on friends within a limit and then stick to that limit. Have a budget planned out will allow you to say yes or no depending on your financial situation.
Be happy with what you have.
Looking through Facebook and feeling jealous over your friend’s vacations or homes is an exercise in futility. It’s easy to always find someone that has more than you do.
Instead you should practice being grateful for what you have.
Do you have a home? A car? Clothes? You probably have more than you ever need to be content so it’s helpful to look at all the things you have and practice being grateful for them.
Work on yourself internally.
The main problems that arise from friends making more money than you is the negative internal emotions. Things like jealousy, envy, and bitterness can be a toxic poison in your friendship and in your own mind.
Take time to work through feelings like this and eliminate them. Your friendship is worth enough to work on how you perceive the situation in your mind.
Work on your financial situation.
Improving your own finances can lead to you feeling more confident about money, even if you make less of it.
When you are more secure in your financial footing you’ll be able to work on growing your income or starting a side hustle.
Not sure how to make more money? Try some of these money making ideas:
- Make Money On YouTube Without Showing Your Face
- How To Make Money With M1 Finance (6 Ways)
- Make Money With Canva (10 Ways)
- How to Make Money Selling Stickers On Etsy
Be happy for your friends.
Being truly happy for your friends and their successful careers will help the situation.
When you are sincerely happy for your friends making a lot of money you are less likely to struggle with envy or notice the difference in income.
If you find yourself turning to jealousy more than happiness, try writing down reasons why you are happy for your friends and reasons why they deserve their success.
Finding The Balance
It’s not always fun to implement these things with friends and family when you make less money than your friends.
It’s much more fun to just earn more money and do better in life!
Over time you will be more comfortable using these techniques. You’ll also likely start improving your financial situation and earning more money.
You might never make as much as some friends. That doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to spend time with them. It just means you have to be creative and thoughtful about your approach to the friendship!
Mary is the founder of Pennies Not Perfection where she shares her journey to build wealth through online income. She quit her day job in 2021 after she paid off her debt and doubled her 9-5 salary.
Mary's favorite free financial tool is Personal Capital. She uses their free tools to track net worth and work toward to financial freedom.