Rich Friends, Poor Friends, Can You be Their BFF?

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Are your friends about as well off as you? Are they more poor or more rich? Does this interfere with your friendship? At this point, I’m about equal with my friends, maybe actually more on the poor side because of my choices, but I can’t help but shake the thought that “You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with” Does that mean if I hang out with 5 millionaires all day, I will also become a millionaire? If your friends get significantly richer or significantly poorer than you, will you still be best friends forever?

Whether you agree or disagree, it may be interesting to consider your friends and family in relation to money. Obviously there are a lot of different styles of relationships and we can’t generalize about human interaction and psychology in a blog post, but we can still ponder it and share our experiences.

In a way this reminds me of the housing market. As a Realtor it was common knowledge that if you built a house, you didn’t want to be the most expensive one on the street because it had a negative affect on the value of your home. However if you were on the lower end of the neighborhood it would positively increase your value since there was a tendency to gravitate to the mean. So does the same thing happen with your friends?

Being Friends with Someone Much Richer Than You

They drive a mercedes, have a 10,000 sq ft house, and take vacations to the Carribbean every 2 months.  You drive a 6 year old kia, rent an apartment, and take a road trip to the next state over maybe once a year. Could you be friends? I think they made a movie about this… Envy…

The problem I see with this type of relationship is envy, jealousy, and an inability to relate to each other since you have different experiences. Maybe this just cultivates a completely different type of relationship where you’re friends based around a certain activitiy, but when the friend starts talking about the Carribbean… you won’t be able to relate.  Friendships are largely based around how other people make you feel, so if your rich friend rubs in that he/she is rich, it’s likely to be a short lived friendship.  However if it isn’t brought up much and you participate in activities that are similar without having a feeling that you’re missing out, it probably wouldn’t hurt the friendship.

Being Friends with Someone Much Poorer Than You

If you’re friends with someone much poorer than you who’s struggling, are you a bad friend if you don’t help them out? This might become a burden since your friend can’t do a lot of the things you want to do. Want to go kayaking in Colorado?  Not going to happen if your friend is too poor to do it.  I suppose it depends more on lifestyle associated with how you use your money more than it does with how much money you have.  Kinda like the folks in the millionaire next door who lead simple lives that don’t require a lot of money, but in fact they were very wealthy.

Having poor friends will limit the hobbies and activities you participate in, but doesn’t remove their ability to be there for you and be a true friend.  You may however, have to be okay with cooking in with them, maybe footing the bill, and limiting your hobbies.

Jerry’s Ryan’s Final Thoughts

All I know is that friends are usually people we can relate to and who we share experiences and memories with. They’re people who understand us and treat us with respect which then builds trust and a sense of inclusion. The thing I wonder though, is if money becomes so much of a part of who we are that we can no longer relate to people who are much richer or much poorer than ourselves because it directly affects our lifestyle… well at least for most of us.

In turn, maybe we stay in our current situation so we don’t have to suffer the burden of finding new friends based on the social inpact it has of either going up or down the money ladder.  Maybe people purposely stay middle class to avoid jealousy and envy from the friendships they have that matter more to them than money.  Maybe your bff’s are only people who are in the same financial bracket as you over the years.

What do you think?  Do you have any friends who are significantly richer/poorer than you?

If so, does it affect your relationship with them?  Does it bug you in any way?

Image from Elvire-r

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79 Comments on "Rich Friends, Poor Friends, Can You be Their BFF?"

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Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey
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Most of my friends and family are in the same classification financially as I am. Therefore I can’t personally speak about the difficulty of relating to a different class financially, but I can imagine that it has it’s challenges. It makes sense that a poor and a rich friend both going on vacation together can be challenging from a financial standpoint. When I go on vacation, I like for my focus to be in the moment, relaxation, traveling, and having fun times, not on my finances or the finances of those around me. This really makes me think and it… Read more »
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[…] I’m willing to bet they might rub off on you a bit. This also tends to be the case with your friends. If your co-workers complain a lot, you’ll probably start complaining too. If you’ve […]

oilandgarlic
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I just stumbled upon your blog and I have to say this is a good post with great comments and insights. I have been mullling over a post about a similar topic — this inspires me to get cracking! Plus it’s inspired me to start wroking on another more personal post. As for friendships, while money is a factor, I agree that attitude is key. While most of my friends are smart, that is not a defining factor. Sometimes you just click, or you don’t. Plus if someone were to overhear our conversations, we probably wouldn’t seem to be the… Read more »
scottbarrononline
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My step father and Uncle are self made millionaires. I believe a self made millionaire differs from the born rich folks because they know and remember their family’s poor life. Each of them has succeeded in bringing their families out of poverty. Both were able to retire their parents and support them. They also employed their friends, helping to bring them to a financial level equal to themselves. It’s not that rich people only associate amongst their class, but they know how to get people into their class. A prime example is when Oprah wrote her friend Gayle a check… Read more »
Daniel Johnston
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Actually, I don’t have any friends who are richer than me; instead all of them are poorer than me. It’s not that I seek them out to make myself feel better; I just have more money than most. It doesn’t really hinder my relationship with them. We usually hang out at my house, and if they can’t afford to eat out, for example, I’ll just pay it for them. Since we have common interests, we’re able to get along, and money doesn’t really come up. At least for me, it isn’t a problem. I have no way of knowing whether… Read more »
Daniel Johnston
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Money can become a big problem in families. If you watch The Suze Orman Show, it’s amazing how many problems there are with family and money. I know this isn’t the kind of family relationship you’re talking about, but money is the biggest reason couples get divorced. No one who I know really has the same views about money as I do, as well. I believe in putting 25% of your take home into savings, 25% into retirement, always having a 6-8 month emergency fund, paying for things outright, not getting into credit card debt (seems like a no-brainer, but… Read more »
Daniel Johnston
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I agree; I also feel more comfortable talking about this with strangers online than people I’ve always known. It may be because money is thought of as something that shouldn’t be talked about for many people, and it is pretty uncomfortable talking about money in “real” life.

I think expressing opinion is just a lot easier online because there is no social criticism. Sure, people can criticize you, but you don’t even see their face, and it’s just much less intimidating than in an actual social interaction.

Daniel Johnston
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My personal experience disagrees with this rule completely: I have more money than all of my five closest friends. However, that is probably just because I’m wealthy. It makes sense that it would work.

Daniel Johnston
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I agree. My friends are all smart. I can’t stand people who aren’t very bright. That, I think, is the main factor of whether people can be friends or not. I am friends with people who I don’t really have any shared interests with, but because we’re both fairly intellectual, we are still able to have a lot of fun together.

Daniel Johnston
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I agree; friends should be able to separate the money and lifestyle differences. If they can’t, then you shouldn’t be friends with them.

James
Guest
I have similar interest with a wealthy person and I truely enjoy spending time with him. However, from time to time, issues will come up in our conversations that show how totally opposite our opinions are. I’m a very stubborn person that does not back down easily. So, I started intentionally staying away from certain “Hot” topics (aka: Politics), but other things seem to keep compounding and causing strife. I am finding myself irratated about smaller issues. I.E.: if I buy a new backpack he has to go out and buy a better back pack & explain to me why… Read more »
Guy G.
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Hey Ryan, I’m didn’t see it in your post, but I may have missed it. Have you ever heard that a person’s income is often the overage of that of their closest 6 friends. Or the 6 people they associate with most? So, my follow up question to your post is … Rich Friends, Poor Friends, Do you WANT to be their BFF? I’d say that as much as I love my poorer friends, I don’t hang around them too much anymore because their poverty mentality drags me down. I’d also admit that I don’t have any rich friends per… Read more »
Monevator
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I think you naturally gravitate towards people who are roughly the same as you, although it’s better if you can to try to hang around with people you aspire to be like (so if you want to be rich, get some rich friends). The difference is childhood/college friends. True friends from those eras seem to be immune to the income / money thing (well, so far anyway – I’m in my mid-30s and it makes no difference who is rich or poor or whatever really. But with newer friends, however much it shouldn’t, I think it probably does for some… Read more »
Simone
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I have some friends that are richer than me. The problem is they have changed over the years, and have become a lot more materialistic. So everything is about designer labels, million dollar mansions etc. I don’t really connect with that sort of talk, I mean it’s great to have the money and the ability to spend it, but if that’s all you talk about…well it wares thin. On top of that they never seem to be happy, with what they have. Sad really. If I ever had that sort of money, I certainly would enjoy it, but I really… Read more »
Noah Rainey
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My friends are rich and poor. In my opinion I don’t think having rich or poor friends really matters. What matters is the relationship between each other.
.-= Noah Rainey´s last blog ..25 Ways on How to Make Money Online =-.

Kharim
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Nice post Ryan. For me I like making friends and it doesn’t matter if that friend is rich or poor.
.-= Kharim´s last blog ..5 Common Mistakes New Bloggers Make =-.

Dee
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I think some of you got it really right! It doesn’t matter how rich or poor your friend is. it doesn’t matter how smart he or she is . It matters if you love each other undertand each other. If you love and care about someone you really wouldn’t care about how smart or poor they might be. It just that you see something special in them

Financial Agent
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I have one friend with rich family background. But this never a gap for our friendship as we have the same interest which doesn’t involve money such as playing football together and he doesn’t adopt rich kind of lifestyle. We treasure the friendship and we respect each other without any rich or poor label upon us.
.-= Financial Agent´s last blog ..BLR vs BFR Rate Difference =-.

Ary
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Friends will always be friends, that’s why they are called friends in the first place. In addition friends should accept themselves even if they are poor or rich. Of course, if the friends are in the same ‘ money ‘ classification, then they will get along better, because they are able to do the same things, having the same possibilities. But what about help? Why wouldn’t rich friends help the poor ones?
.-= Ary´s last blog ..Money- Like a cake =-.

Moneyedup
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I agree with Ary, if your friends are true friends, they will stick by you no matter what. Thinking back to an episode of Friends where half the group wanted to go out to a fancy restaurant and the other half could only afford to buy crackers at said restaurant, they worked things out by making it clear that some people in the group have financial limitations and going out of their spending range makes them feel uncomfortable.
.-= Moneyedup´s last blog ..5 Things You Should Never Say About Money =-.

Roman Soluk
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I don’t have such friends, but still I think that nowadays such a friendship is almost impossible.

sandrachestnut
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My oldest and dearest friend is poverty stricken. When we go anywhere, I pay and I am by no means “well off”. This friend is a joy to be with and I speak with this friend on the phone more frequently than I see him/her. I have another friend who is fabulously wealthy. I have lost contact with this other friend because of his/her wealth. I relate better to the poor friend. He/she is more available to me. “When I was deep in poverty, you taught me how to give…..” BD

friendly with money
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For me when you are friends with somebody it doesn’t really matter if he is rich or poor. I’m a poor person now but I have experienced how it is to be rich before my mother died. I have had all sorts of friends due to my life’s ups and downs. You see when I was sort of well-off myself; I had this friend who was richer than me. He drives his own car, has a complete set of musical instruments in his room but he never bragged about his family’s wealth. We were good friends because I listened to… Read more »
K
Guest
I definitely have to agree that differences in wealth can strain relationships. During college I was roommates with a friend who would constantly complain about not having money…but while I was working 40 hours a week at near-minimum wage to make rent and buy school supplies her parents would send her $1,000 a month, enough for rent and an extra couple hundred for school supplies. If it was the money issue alone that wouldn’t have been an issue – some people have more, some people have less, but her complaining that she didn’t have money was what got to me.… Read more »
Todd Dowell
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To me it does matter because if im to get to where i want to be…. then i must surround myself with fri ends that are already in the direction i want to be. Don’t get me wrong…. i love my poor friends, but i have learned that it is very important to watch my exposure with them.

You are what you eat…. in other words what im exposed to the most will reflect on my actions, mindset, etc…

Thanks for sharing in this post my friend

Todd Dowell

Ajai
Guest

I think we should help our poor friends while they need money in cases such as food, deseases, education. But we should be aware of good friends and bad friends.

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[…] who understand the plight of those who do not have the ability to inflate their lifestyle. Whether rich friends or poor friends, the ones who have similar values and belief structures will be the best to relate to in regards to […]

M
Guest
First off, I just want to apologize, as this comment is quite lengthy…. I grew up in a family that wasn’t necessarily poor, but unbalanced in a way. We had a big house, took frequent vacations, had a pool… but these things came at the expense of things like plentiful quality food, good clothing (we often shopped at Good Will), and working vehicles (we always were buying crappy used cars that constantly broke down). So it was kind of like… as long as our house was big and looked good, and we were able to “afford” yearly vacations… we probably… Read more »
Joseph
Guest
I come from a wealthy family. there is no way to hide or deny it. My parents did extremely well in the mid to late 90’s and early in this decade to where they didn’t have to work anymore and neither did their kids or grandkids. Not to say that we don’t work, I have a masters from Harvard and spend my time busy, but it involves charity work and other non paid volunteer type activities or reviewing investments. I have many friends and none of them are rich. I admit there are times when I hold my tongue about… Read more »
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