Photo: Casey Geib/Flickr
Friends. My biggest monetary pet peeve lately. Nowadays it is not easy to be a good friend. Nor it is cheap anymore.I have a complicated relationship with most of my friends. We all have different hobbies, views and goals. Somehow we all manage to stay friends.
Let’s see. I like staying home. I hate exercise. I love reading and writing. Most of my friends like to go out clubbing. They are fitness obsessed and big camping lovers. Me? Not so much. I love hotels, fluffy pillows and hot showers. We are quite different indeed.
Then we have birthday party disagreements. All the time. Most of my friends like big, lavish birthday celebrations. This not just seems odd to me, it seems unfitting at age of 43 to party like you are a 22 year old. Some of us, apparently, never surpassed that tender age when we wanted to announce to the world that we were of a legal age, we were allowed to drink.
The older my friends get, the louder they get in their birthday festivities. Their monetary expectations of friends rise exponentially. They choose venues for their parties that require an entrance fee. Not a $5 fee, but rather a $30 fee. They also expect you to pay for your own dinner, and maybe even theirs. They want a thoughtful gift as an acknowledgment of their importance as your friend. They want your love, respect, and they want your money.
Last year there was a somewhat reasonable expectation of a gift of designer sunglasses. Luckily for everyone in the group, I knew a place where we could buy affordable sunglasses (click here to find affordable designer sunglasses that you can purchase online.) Dinner was not extravagant, the venue was fun.
This year, however, we moved on to an exclusive place of high prices. A proof of our friendship importance was a $2000 painting.
Things that upset me the most:
- No one asked if we could afford or even wanted to shed a $30 entrance fee into a venue, $40 dinner per person, and $150 for the gift (the share of our contribution towards the desired painting.) To sum it all up, to prove our endless love and respect, Beaker and I had to put down over $300. I found it outrageous, and I blatantly refused.
- The attitude of entitlement. Should we get online loans or personal loans to be able to “afford” to be a good friend? Should I dip into our savings to celebrate your birthday? Can I just take you out for lunch or dinner and not be considered too cheap?
- Emotional and time investment in our friendship is not enough anymore. A monetary investment became the main requirement. Why time spent on listening to endless bitching about your boyfriends, girlfriends, business plans, vacation ideas and grocery shopping lists is not good enough?
- There is no easy opt out option. My behaviour will be discussed. My absence will be addressed, and not in a very nice way.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a birthday hater. I view these occasions as an opportunity to spend time with friends. A birthday celebration is not an ego-centric, attention craving event. It is a chance for all of us to get together and honour our friendship. All I want is to be reasonable about it.
I would never put a price tag on a friendship. Nevertheless, I really want to shout out to my friends:
“Money can buy you company, not friends.”