Living

What to do when your friends have deeper pockets than you do

I’m very excited to go on a mother-daughter trip to New York soon. I’m going with my best friend and her daughter, and another friend with her daughter — three of us mothers and our daughters.

woman, piggy bank, money

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I’m very excited to go on a mother-daughter trip to New York soon. I’m going with my best friend and her daughter, and another friend with her daughter — three of us mothers and our daughters.

I thought that with our busy schedules, picking a weekend when we could all go would be painful. But what turned out to be harder was that my friends chose to stay at The Plaza (not the cheapest hotel) and also decided that we should treat our daughters to one night in the Eloise Suite — at a cost of $1450.

Trust me, I would never normally spend $1450 for a hotel room for my daughter, even if it was the Eloise Suite, which is meant for little girls and comes with its own butler. But what could I do? It had already been booked. I certainly couldn’t allow my own daughter to be the only girl to not get to stay in the suite while the others enjoyed it. That would not be fair — she’d definitely feel left out.

Obviously, you can see that these friends have more disposable income than I do — or are at least willing to spend more than I’d like to. Not only am I’m worried that I’m staying at an over-budget hotel, which is doable — if I don’t buy a thing in New York, which of course is impossible — but I’m now wondering where it will end.

Will I end up having to go with them to expensive restaurants? Will I end up spending my time shopping with them at designer clothing stores? I certainly don’t want to be the stick in the mud when it comes to this trip. Oh, the memories of hanging out with my rich high school friends and ordering water and a side salad while they went to town eating steak!

Make no mistake, these friends of mine are super, super nice. They won’t care if I don’t shop at high-end boutiques. But I’m feeling a little insecure about it. Have you ever had to hang out with friends who had more money than you? Of course, I know I will end up spending more than I should. But what can one do in this situation?

I talked to Alison Griffiths, a financial author and journalist, who offers tips on her website.

1. You’re not alone: She says that everyone, at some point, has been in the position of hanging out with friends who either have more money than you or less. This situation is perfectly normal.

2. Call the shots: She advises me to be “proactive.” Meaning, I should take the lead, make suggestions and let my friends fall in line. “The people with less money usually end up following. You could suggest, ‘Let’s take a bike ride instead of a boat ride around Manhattan.’” (I suppose I’m to blame, slightly. I’d rather them take the lead, because I’m so disorganized!)

3. Don’t lie: Always be truthful, she says. “We tell our girlfriends about our last great orgasm, but when it comes to money we have a hard time being honest with them. If they are your friends, they will understand that maybe you can’t swim in the same pond.” True friends, she says, will get it — there’s no reason to feel shameful.

4. No complaining: No whining! “Once you make the decision to go and spend that money, you may as well enjoy it. We spend so much time beating ourselves up, when really if you’ve made the decision to go, just enjoy it.” Yes, she says, you may have to save money afterward to make up for the budget killer of a trip, but memories are being made. (It’s true. This is our first mother-daughter trip with other mother-daughters, something we’ll all remember forever.) Besides, who wants to be the downer on a trip who is always saying, “I wish I could afford that but I can’t.” I don’t!

5. Say thank you: Be gracious, she says. Meaning, if someone offers to pick up the tab, take the offer. “Trust them that they wouldn’t have offered if they didn’t want to.”

Everything she says makes sense. I have made the decision to go, and I am going to have fun. I am not going to complain. I am going to spend my money, which I worked hard for. I will get into financial-repair mode once I return. Heck, you only live once, so I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. How could I not, with my good friends and my daughter? That is priceless.

Follow me at @rebeccaeckler and www.howtoraiseaboyfriend.com