Financial Frenemies: Who’s Your Budget Buster?

Colleen Oakley

financial friendLauralynn 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.

RELATED: Confessions of a Reformed Money Meddler

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.”

  • scherazade

    I used to work for the federal government. My salary was pretty common knowledge. My immediate supervisor and office mates were constantly nagging me to spend money. It was called “getting along with my coworkers.” It didn’t matter their salaries were $20 to $30 thousand more than mine. I was even expected to go to lunch every day. I was nagged to order the exact same thing they ordered, even though I have dietary restrictions for medical reasons. I was constantly harassed when I did not give in. To add insult to injury, the check was split evenly so I was required to subsidize their lunch, along with the pitchers of beer that were routinely ordered. I went twice, said I could not fit $40 to $50 per week in my budget, and declined. I was eventually fired.