Lauralynn Schueckler, 31, works for a credit counseling agency, so she knows a lot about budgets and how to stick to one. Until her friend Tara* comes around.
“She always backs me into a corner and talks me into doing things with her that I really can’t afford—like dinner every week or expensive art classes or not-so-frugal vacations,” says Schueckler. “She’s single, so she always uses the ‘I’m lonely, let’s do something!’ phrase on me. No matter how I try to say no, I always end up feeling bad and give in.”
Tara is a financial frenemy—someone who sabotages your financial budget, causing you to spend more money than you should. And most of us have fallen victim to them at one point in our lives. Yet, as evil as they sound, most financial frenemies aren’t even aware of what they’re doing.
What Really Makes Frenemies Tick
“People asking you to join in activities that you can’t afford are typically just trying to have a good time and aren’t maliciously intending to knock you off your financial track,” says Dr. Stacia Pierce, a life coach and author of “Success, Attraction, Quotes & Notes.”
But when they continue to push and bully, even after you’ve said no the first time, there’s something deeper at play in your friendship: control. “Financial frenemies are generally subconsciously seeking to have some type of control in the relationship, often to mask their own insecurities or vulnerabilities,” says Lisa Bahar, LMFT, a therapist in Dana Point, Calif. And they will go to extreme lengths to try to get their own way, she says, often by instilling fear or putting pressure on the person they’re trying to control.
Still, it only becomes a problem when you don’t—or can’t—speak up for yourself. “I know that I need to be assertive and just say no,” says Schueckler, “but I’m a total people pleaser. I go above and beyond for my friends, and that usually leads me to having no money at the end of the month.”