Sisterhood Thrive

HOW TO NAVIGATE A PAY GAP IN YOUR FRIENDSHIPS

What do you do when there's a pay gap in your relationship?

Money is a tricky little b*tch no matter what end of it you’re on. If you’ve got a lot, you feel weird, you’ve got none you feel desperate, you got some and you’re worried it might evaporate. There is a reason they say don’t go into business with friends (though I totally would) but it’s because money can do really nasty things to an otherwise really solid relationships. It’s just like the science of cold hard cash money. I don’t know why.

So, riddle me this scenario: You’ve got money because you’re a Boss Lady and you make it rain, but you’re vina (bless her heart) hasn’t got those zeros and is constantly struggling to keep up. How do you navigate the gap in your pay grade, and when/where does this come into play? I’ve been on every side of this scenario, so here’s my two cents (no pun intended):

For one, you do not always have to pick up the tab. And she shouldn’t let you. I fell into this habit with my sister who always made more money than me. I came to expect her to get little things like the coffee or even lunch. Nope. Not only was I taking advantage of her but it made me feel inferior. You might feel like you need to get the tab, but it’s damaging to both of you if you do it every time.

Secondly, you might have to tailor your taste to your friendship. This is not a negative. Sure, you might like to #treatyoself like all the time, but time with this vina can and should be a little less glamorous. Eat pizza and go for a walk, shop discount and sneak into the movies. A solid relationship is not built on what you do, but rather how you share it. Focus instead on the quality of your time and leave the fancy stuff for another day.

Third, still invite her even if you feel like you’re doing something outside of her pay range. She is a grown woman and has every capacity to say no to that girls trip to Mexico or a spa day or whatever event you have on the books. She might be a little bummed she can’t come, but it is not your job to leave her out because of it. Invite anyways, and no this does not contradict point #2, they’re different.

Fourth, if any of the above scenarios has gone awry and you feel taken advantage of, or you sense she feels uncomfortable and left out, then… TALK. You probably knew I was going to say this, because it is the answer to every problem. Talk it out, awkward pauses and all. Because nothing else is going to save you, and this problem isn’t going to fix itself.

Fifth, and lastly, don’t throw pity in her direction. I have had plenty of nights when I went out with friends to dinner but was broke as all hell so I would simply eat at home beforehand. I still wanted to hangout I just didn’t want to drop twenties on poorly cooked fajitas. I never felt bad about it, and neither should you.

Now, all of this is fine and will probably work well if this friend is reasonable, positive, and hard working. There is nothing more frustrating that a friend who is constantly broke and blames it on the world, or always refuses to contribute. If you find yourself in this scenario proceed immediately to #4 and talk it out. Constant money troubles and shoveling it off on you can be a sign of a toxic relationship and it might be time for you to step back and let her figure this out on her own. Sometimes tough love is the answer.

I am multi-genre writer specializing in travel, ad-copy, and nonfiction prose. A recent graduate with my MFA I am spending my new found time rambling around the world, practicing yoga, and searching for the best salad ever.

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