How to Overcome Income Differences in Your Friend Group

This article may spark some controversy, but I’m standing by everything I say…but seriously, how many of us have wondered how much our friends are making each year? How many of us are curious about how much debt our friends have or what their monthly expenses are? Income differences in your friend group is real. 

If you have answered “no” to any of those questions above, you’re not being honest with me or yourself haha! As we get older and more seasoned in our career and lives, part of growing up is acknowledging the fact that your friends may make a lot more money than you, and that’s ok (actually, it’s amazing).

I know with social media it can be hard to not compare yourself to the “I’m Now a Homeowner” and/or “Cheers from the Maldives” posts from our friends and not wonder just how our friends can afford their lifestyle. However, I hope I can share with you how to overcome having friends of differing income levels, and not let it get you down.

Choose What You Want to Disclose

I know we live in a very transparent culture, but sometimes it’s ok to go back to the basics. For instance, I remember learning that money and income were on the “taboo” list of conversation topics, along with religion and politics…it just wasn’t talked about casually. In fact, it was considered rude or tasteless.

Well, even though times have changed, and we’re more open with conversations around money (Hey, City Girl Savings), you can still control what you choose to disclose. This includes your salary. There is still something to be said about keeping things to yourself and remaining private.

Choose Who You Want to Disclose to

Choosing who you want to disclose to may be more important than what you choose to disclose, especially when it comes to income within your close circle of friends. It’s all very subjective. You may notice that some friends are more open and transparent about their finances than others, but you can control and discern who you can trust by knowing your own income/financial situation (if you even choose to share).

Not everyone needs to know your financial situation, even your closest friends. Some friends are just not the ones to speak about money with, and that’s ok! I know I love discussing money with those friends who I know are good with money or who I can learn financial tips from…but it’s not everyone haha!

Inform Your Friends of Some of Your Financial Goals

If you have some big financial goals that you want to achieve this year, inform your circle about your goals! If they are your true friends, they should be understanding and supportive of your financial goals. Even better if they turn into your accountability partners to make sure you’re progressing! Also, finding an accountability group online, like the City Girl Savings Facebook Group, can be a great way to put your goals out into the Universe!

Stick to Your Budget and Learn to Say “No”

This was something I had to learn later on in my journey, but learning how to properly budget not only gave me a sense of confidence in my financial goals, but also the confidence to decline social outings, spontaneous spending, and “reckless” impulsiveness. 

By working with Raya and understanding the importance of budgeting, I had to learn that “no” was a complete sentence. For instance, if I saw that I only had $200 for entertainment and $100 for eating out, but my girlfriends wanted to do a full spa day AND brunch, I just knew that I couldn’t do both.  

Now before becoming a “City Girl Savings” gal, I wouldn’t bother turning down a spontaneous day or expensive brunch/dinner because of FOMO (fear of missing out), but now…I don’t mind declining things that are just not in my budget (at least not this month)!

Don’t Compare Your Journey to Someone Else’s

If you have friends who have traditionally stable and lucrative jobs, such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, then of course their income may be higher than yours…but remember, your net worth doesn’t determine your self-worth. 

Also, remember that your friends cannot help the privilege, family background, or financial advantages that they may have. Personally speaking, this was something I had to do some shadow work on, as I was constantly comparing myself and my lack of “financial and educational pedigree” to some of my friends and their privileges. 

This may sound rather cliché, but you cannot compare someone’s Chapter 5 with your Chapter 1, and your real friends are your friends because of who you are, not because of your money situation.

It May be Time to Remove Some “Friends”

If you feel like you’ve been very clear to your friends about your financial goals, stuck with your budget, declined invitations to spend money, and they still do not respect your wishes…it may be time to reevaluate your circle of friends. 

If you read my article, “7 Lessons I Learned in 2022”, you’d know that I am all for removing people that no longer serve us or respect our goals. Sometimes in life, people (including our close friends) are just not on the same wavelength and cannot come with us to the next level of our lives, and that’s okay.

You want to be sure that, regardless of you and your friends’ income levels, you have a circle of people who want to see you reach your goals and succeed in all areas of life. 

Yes, you may have to decline some social outings (or edit your budget), but you should never feel like you have to “keep up” with your friends or their lifestyles in order to keep them as friends. 

Related: Blog Share – How to Talk Money With Friends

I hope this article was helpful in how you navigate your friendships as we get older and more seasoned in our careers and goals. Let me know, how do you deal with differences in income levels amongst your friends? 

Remember to like and follow City Girl Savings on all social media platforms and subscribe to the City Girl Savings podcast as well!

The CGS Team



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