Monday, April 6, 2009

The Finances of Friendship

Miss M has a new post about friendships and how they are impacted by economic status. I don't disagree with her conclusion that we tend to keep our closest friendships with those who are also close to our class.

But it does cause me to reflect on my closest friendship.

L and I met in graduate school thirty-five years ago. We are both loners. Neither of us married. Depending on where we were living (currently we're in the same city, but we've been as much as 2000 miles apart), the closeness of our relationship has ebbed and flowed.

We discovered early on that we travel well together, so we've always taken vacations with one another. She is the friend I went with to Japan last October.

Since my heart surgery, and after my daughter returned home to her family, L has been dropping by for dinner four nights a week. She has also provided me with transportation since I'm still not released to drive.

We're a lot alike. But NOT financially.

She is quite wealthy and always has been. Not only does she come from a wealthy family, but she has taken private sector jobs that pay very well.

We have worked hard over the years to keep money from being an issue.

We both like to eat out. In general, we take turns paying. When I'm paying, we're likely to hit the local Thai restaurant. When she craves something more exciting and more expensive, she pays. We don't try to keep the money even--just the number of times each of us pays.

On vacations, we tend to agree as to the quality of the lodgings we want--we both want a certain level of comfort, but she never insists on top-drawer accommodations. We both like to play tourist, so I make sure in advance that I can afford the museums and other attraction costs. We both agree to fly coach. Actually, she flies a lot in her job, and she takes coach, then, too.

Shopping has always been a joke between us. She is an inveterate shopper and she loves it. I'm not. I accompany her with a book in hand, and I head for the nearest chair while she scouts out her "must-have" purchases. She comes home from our vacations with at least one extra suitcase of new stuff while I tend to be happy with a couple of bookmarks or coin purses.

But in spite of our class differences and the variance in our financial status, we have remained friends all this time. I would hate to think that something like money could ever change that.


Anonymous said...

You and your friend are blessed because obviously you respect each other. Even though I come from a wealthy family, we are still utilitarian. That's probably because my family made their money the old fashioned way: they broke their a$$ and earned it.
So, I have a problem with people who are wasteful. That usually befalls on the well-to-do. I do not like people who order up a whole lobster but only eat the tail and throw the rest away. In fact, I don't like anyone who wastes any amount of food, take one sip of a drink or leaves a half-drunk bottle of wine at the table. I dislike women who buy clothes and never wear them. I dislike men (or women) who buy cars that have absolutely no purpose in life (like corvettes-please no comments, my DH had one and it was simply a money drainer that set well, in the garage) I had neighbors who simply redid their kitchens and baths on a whim. Threw all their cabinets and plumbing in the landfills. I had friends who moved to bigger homes, never took their old furniture and just abandoned them. Said it didn't fit in the new decor.

Wasteful. Sinful. Those types of people I stay clear of. No respect.

That is why I am so glad we are all going green: reuse, recycle, reclaim. I admire people who use old barn wood for their brand 'new' floors, recycled glass for their countertops and backsplashes. Only order what they can consume. Only cook what they can eat. Harness the sun and the rain.

And fly coach.

My friend just returned from the film festival in Sarasota, Florida and was flying back home, in coach. She saw more celebrities sitting near her in coach than if she had attended the Oscar Ball in LA. Good for them!

Respect. That's what it boils down to for me. Respect for our fellow man and the environment.

Being green is the new badge of 'wealth' in my book.

Miss M said...

I hope I didn't paint the wealthy with too broad a brush, it's wrong to say they are all alike. Your friend sounds like a wonderful person, regardless of class. the co-worker who prompted my introspection comes across as snobby as well, hence my distaste for her. But she caused me to realize that most of my friends were very much like me and to question if wealth played a part in these relationships. Your relationship with L shows a conscious effort to make your economic differences unimportant. It takes an extra degree of thoughtfulness and consideration to pull that off.

Bouncing Back said...

Interesting post again! I'm planning a post about how my BK and total readjustment of my fiscal life has been difficult on me and how I interact with certain friends. One thing my BK made me realize is how "money based" some of my "friendships" were. And it made me realize how lucky I am to have certain friends, like your L that you have. You are lucky to have her in your life.

Hattie said...

You are giving me some good advice. We have friends who live well but are in fact not well off, both being teachers. It is an exercise in tact for us to stay friends, and your tips really help.
I've got you bookmarked and will come by often.

Grace. said...

Nice to have you here, Hattie.