my rich friend is oblivious when he talks about money … and I’m at a breaking point

A reader writes:

I’m writing for help because you’re the best writer I can think of who delivers the right words in the right way.

My issue is workplace-adjacent without it actually being about a coworker. I’m at the end of my rope with friend, someone who I’ve known for 25 years, who is deeply self-unaware when it comes to talking about money.

For background, he and I both immigrated to the U.S. from our country of birth around a decade ago. We are in vastly different industries, his with far more money than mine, but for the first few years of our careers our salary trajectories were similar and we were both living similarly comfortable lifestyles. For this reason, we were always comfortable discussing compensation and other financial topics with each other.

When I moved out here, I took a significant cut to my salary (and, subsequently, lifestyle) because that’s the nature of the business I was in. I’ve gradually managed to increase my earning power over the past 10 years, but in that time his own salary trajectory has skyrocketed and he’s now on the edge of being among the literal one percent. His base salary is now more than six times what I earn.

Unfortunately the growing disparity has not changed the frequency of, or his comfort level with, discussing finances. This includes but is not limited to him:
— Complaining that taxes ate into his signing bonus at a new role. The signing bonus was as much as a year of my take-home pay.
— Expecting sympathy that he was laid off a month before an employee stock drop would’ve netted him a figure 20 percent more than what I earn in a year.
— Expressing surprise that I’m not in a position to buy a home after 10 years of living and working here.
— Bemoaning the strength of his portfolio and/or suggesting I make investments (with what!) so I can passively earn.
— Advising time and again for me to just “ask for more money” in my previous industry, one notorious for not having any money to begin with.
— Idly throwing around the amount he spent on luxurious, weeks-long vacations to Europe.

I’m in a one-income household with a young child in a state with a high cost of living. My salary is enough to get us by, but not without the help of credit cards and me picking up as much freelance work as I can, to produce on nights and weekends, just to make ends meet. I haven’t saved a cent in three years, I have three months’ rent in the bank, and I’ve been job-hunting almost constantly since 2020 in an attempt to earn a salary that does more than keep my head above water. The job market is more brutal right now than I’ve ever seen it, which makes it feel like even more of a struggle.

I’m at my absolute breaking point and seemingly every other day I get some tone-deaf text about the two-million-dollar home he’s thinking of buying or how they might “relocate to Europe for the summers.” I know in my heart it’s not malicious and it’s entirely to do with a complete lack of understanding for how anyone outside his bubble lives, no matter how frequently I remind him that his worldview and level of opportunity is in the vast minority. He also takes any form of pushback or criticism incredibly poorly. I value the longevity of the friendship but for my own mental health I cannot let him keep complaining about his financial “problems” when I’m up to my ass in debt, stress and bills.

Could you suggest a script which gently but clearly lets me say “I don’t want to hear another fuckin’ word about money from you because I’m at my wits’ end and don’t have two pennies to rub together?”

How honest have you been with him about your own financial situation?

You don’t owe anyone your personal financial details, but since this is a long-time friend who it sounds like you talk with frequently — and who clearly could use a reality check about life for people who are Not Him — it might help to lay things out as clearly as you did here.

Would you be willing to say something like: “I need to talk about something because I really value our friendship and I don’t want this to come between us. You and I have very different financial situations. I’m in a one-income household with a young child in a state with a high cost of living. My salary is enough to get by, but not without the help of credit cards and me picking up as much freelance work as I can for nights and weekends, just to make ends meet. I’ve been job-hunting almost constantly since 2020 in an attempt to earn a salary that does more than keep my head above water. I don’t begrudge you your better finances — I’m happy for you — but I need you to understand where I’m at. When you complain about a signing bonus that’s as much as a year of my take-home pay, it’s rough. It’s not that I don’t want to hear about your life, but it’s hard on me to hear you complain about financial problems when I’m up to my ass in debt, stress, and bills.”

(By the way, speaking of ways with words, I took a lot of that directly from your letter.)

I’m worried this will make him unload a bunch of unhelpful and unwanted financial advice on you so I would also say: “I want to be clear, I’m not looking for advice. We’re in different industries, you of course don’t know the norms of mine, and financial advice that works for you doesn’t work in my situation. I’m just asking you to be aware of how different our situations are and to be sensitive to that when we talk.”

All that said … if he’s buying multi-miillion-dollar homes and summering in Europe and so forth, sensitivity to your situation will only get you so far. There’s clearly room for him be a hell of a lot more thoughtful than he has been, but even if he turns into the epitome of empathy, the significant difference in finances might just be a hard thing you’ll always be grappling with in this relationship.

But if you value the friendship and think he does too, it’s worth speaking up.

{ 333 comments… read them below }

  1. L-squared*

    Part of the issue I see is that you WERE fine discussing these things, but at some point you decided you weren’t fine with it anymore, and never said anything.

    This is kind of akin to 2 friends discussing their dating lives, the ups and downs, and then one of them getting married. Maybe that friend still thinks they can discuss the ups and downs of their relationships, but the other friend, whose dating life sucks, doesn’t want to hear it.

    Neither person is, IMO, doing anything wrong. He is continuing your conversations as they have been. But you are the one who wants to change what is and isn’t ok to talk about. ‘

    So I agree with Alison, you need to be very up front that you don’t wish to discuss finances anymore. But it sounds like, in some ways, you just don’t want to hear about his life. Its fine to not want to hear about his stock portfolio, but its also different that you can’t understand why he’d want sympathy for being laid off and missing out on money it sounds like he should have been entitled to.

    1. FourOfCups*

      Just a note about the stock options—he wasn’t entitled to that money. My job works similarly. We get stock in chunks. So if you’re let go before upur next stock vest, you lose that stock. It’s just how it works.

      1. First World Problematic*

        But it still sucks to miss out on money (or near equivalents) you would have gotten just a month later, through no fault of your own.

      1. Roland*

        Yes to the Grudge Clock! Relevant to so many comments on this letter. This is OP’s friend that they value; going nuclear is probably not going to get the outcome that OP hopes for. Yes, the friend “should” have realized this or that but it’s poor advice to ignore the fact that OP would prefer preserving the friendship.

    2. Smithy*

      I think this is a very good analogy, and to the OP – admittedly for a situation like this it can be akin to the frog in the pot of boiling water. When your friend’s one bedroom apartment’s rent is double yours – you’re both still renting. Or they buy a condo/home, that even you couldn’t afford it – it’s still in your neighborhood, so again finances are different, but you can still relate over shared neighborhood stuff.

      However, at some point the Venn diagram of shared experiences may feel like it’s just shrunk too much and with the OP’s own financial stressors, all they can hear is the financial disparity. Currently, I have a friend (who has a lot more money than I do), who’d debating going on a New Years Eve trip that I could never afford – her debate has nothing to do with cost, but rather who’d be going, the planned activities, etc. When she’s talking about whether or not to go, sure – the cost is a factor (aka do I want to spend $X to do Y with Z people) – but she’s talking to me about it because she wants a friend think through the overall choice. And if she does go, I don’t blame her for wanting to share the experience – be it amazing or bad. No different than the friend who saw Beyonce 4 times this year in Club Rennaissance. Also couldn’t afford to do that, but not wanting to hear about it would have really shut down conversation.

      While I certainly cannot afford trips that costs that much, that’s not all I hear when I have either conversation. So while I get the OP not wanting the stock tips or advice for just asking for more money, not wanting to hear about vacations, a new home, or struggles this guy is having at work….it’s not leaving a lot left. I get that with this guy, all those topics are heavily income loaded and this guy may not talk about them well. But I do think the OP would help themselves out in also identify what they do want to talk to this guy about….

      1. Kel*

        It seems like the issue is that the friend positions these things as a ‘struggle’ equal with everyone else’s.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          How? If I complain about stubbing my toe, that doesn’t mean I think my pain is as bad as someone who broke their leg. Unless he’s actively saying things like “oh man you think your problems are bad, wait until you hear about mine!” which there is no indication of, I don’t think there is any reason to assume that.

          1. whimbrel*

            I mean… I would find it really difficult to have sympathy for a friend who was complaining about not having received stock options at the optimal time and therefore not getting as large a ‘bonus’ payout (by which I mean non-salary income) as could have been possible, and probably especially so when that payout was 20% more than the amount of money I could make in a year.

            This would be even more the case if I had been trying to better my family’s position via getting a better job for several years, having no success in a bad job market, needing to take on credit card debt to stay afloat, and also at the same time trying to be present for a spouse and a small child. That is a lot for anyone and OP’s friend doesn’t seem to have been able to intuitively grasp how stressful OP’s financial and life situation is, so hopefully Alison’s suggestions for OP will help them make clear to the friend what their situation is, and also hopefully they will have other things to talk about (sports, shared pop culture interests, music, etc). But it’s equally possible that they have just grown too far apart as far as life experience to maintain the friendship.

            1. Workerbee*

              I am not sure how OP’s friend could have intuitively grasped all of the situation when OP hasn’t said anything or enough of anything to indicate…well, anything.

              Similarly, it IS okay for someone to feel and express pain (to use the stubbed toe analogy) even to someone with a visible broken leg. Why? Because each of us still can only live our own lives, not our own and someone else’s. What we feel is both valid and relative. If you think it’s being felt AT you, that’s when it’s on you to ask or speak up about it.

          2. Elitist Semicolon*

            The comparison doesn’t have to be that explicit. If OP makes a passing comment like, “yeah, bought some new jeans lately; man, they were expensive” and the person comes back with, “I know! The price of jet fuel is outrageous these days – I had to fly commercial!”, then that likely feels like enough of a comparison to the OP.

          3. Jaydee*

            It’s not that he shouldn’t complain about things just because he’s coming from a position of relative privilege. A stubbed toe hurts even if it hurts less than a broken leg. But he should be aware of his audience. The best person to complain to about your stubbed toe might not be your friend with the broken leg.

          4. There You Are*

            If you stubbed your toe and choose me — the person who was just in a car accident and have multiple fractures that will require multiple surgeries — to lean on for support of your toe pain, I’m going to have a really hard time staying friends with you.

        2. L-squared*

          I don’t think that is necessarily true.

          It sounds like the friend is venting about general problems that most people would vent to their friends about. Hell, my friends aren’t even rich like this guy, but people have been known to discuss stocks and their investments.

          Essentially it seems like OP thinks their friend should NEVER talk about problems because OP has it worse. That is kind of a 1 sided friendship at that point.

      2. Zweisatz*

        I think it would make sense for the OP to evaluate too if they’re still feeling the friendship because I cannot tell if they may have soured on the whole idea at this point (which is a thing that is allowed to happen).

        Like is there common ground right now, fun conversations and/or support that you give each other that you would like to hold on to? Then great, have the conversation and probably start on a different trajectory that will keep you happier.

        But maybe you’ve grown apart in ways that are more than money and it would lift a weight off your shoulders to acknowledge that. I cannot tell that from afar.

        I would recommend imagining what it would be like if, without any difficult conversation, just snipping your fingers, you could end contact tomorrow. Are you feeling a sense of relief? Or mostly a sense of loss and sadness?
        If it is the latter then you know that it’s time to spell out what’s in your head (money is a fraught topic and you need a different way to talk about it) so he knows it too.

    3. Hannah Lee*

      “Part of the issue I see is that you WERE fine discussing these things, but at some point you decided you weren’t fine with it anymore, and never said anything. ”

      While this may be *factually* true, if I were the one who was fortunate* enough to either have found a partner I could build a happy, partnered life with, or to have built a career that was very lucrative and made me extremely rich (like approaching the 1 percent in income/wealth) I would HOPE that I would have at least SOME awareness that other people are human beings who are NOT in that same situation.

      And if one of those people were one of my good friends, whose company and conversation I enjoy and value, I would HOPE that I could take my head out of my.. um… joyous floating in the clouds experience … so that I’m not so self-centered, tone deaf when we get together that I whine about my tax burden or center the conversation on all the luxuries I enjoy, whether it’s a well funded portfolio or pricey vacations or someone loving to curl up with on cold nights.

      So, yeah, friends can still share ups and downs or details of their lives, but good friends consider each other’s situations, where they are coming from and can focus conversations on what they have in common, and try to steer around areas where there’s a huge disparity in good fortune or circumstances. And also take time to check in with what’s going on with their friend, actually hear listen, have some empathy.

      LW should absolutely bring it up at this point. But it sounds like good friend talks a lot about all their good fortune and rich-people ‘problems’, and could likely guess LW isn’t the right audience for SO MUCH of it. And could redirect some of their conversational energy toward LW’s life with genuine engagement and curiosity, not just in a “So, enough about me, what do YOU think of my dress” or “let me tell you how about these golden opportunities that ALL the smart people (aka people with big wealth) are jumping on” kind of way.

      *while yes, there’s the old saw ‘luck is preparation meeting opportunity’ there is absolutely a great deal of luck involved in whether the circumstances/preparation you’ve got match whatever opportunity is within your reach, or whether any viable opportunity comes your way/works out at all.

      We can’t control the little things, much less whether a mass shooting, war, accident, illness, partner dying, birth control failing, employer/industry flying high or tanking directly changes the course of your life (whether it happens to you or someone close to you) And whether, without a crystal ball, your best informed choices put you on the path that works out well vs the one where you’re struggling.

      1. ClaireW*

        Exactly this, my partner and I are in tech so we’re financially in a better place than a lot of our siblings and friends – so while I might complain to my friends that are in the industry, I’m not going to sit with my brother on a just-above-minimum-wage shift job and talk about how expensive my mortgage is or whatever. It’s just not necessary and I don’t want to put him in that position.

        I have a friends group where there’s one other guy who makes similar money to us, and frequently complains about how terribly difficult it is to be taxed at the highest tax bracket and is shocked when other people in the group who don’t even have ‘fun money’ aren’t super sympathetic.

      2. Zweisatz*


        Based on the letter I wasn’t sure if LW also shares about their life, gets support for the difficult parts etc. Basically if the friendship is well-balanced.
        And yes, that can be on LW too – there is not being listened to and there is never sharing so people don’t get the opportunity to support you. So look out for that if that is the case.

        But I certainly think it’s not complicated to gauge if your friend in the one bedroom apartment (hyperbolically spoken) is really the right audience for your third vacation home purchase.

    4. C.*

      This is a good analogy. I’m happily married and haven’t been in the dating pool for 12 years now—even before Tindr was a thing!—so it’s hard for me to relate to my friends who are frustrated with dating. That said, I’m smart enough and empathetic enough to recognize the differences and will always listen or offer advice if I can.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree, and I also think it sounds like OP has reached a bit of a BEC point because I think some of their complaints are valid but some seem like normal things to discuss with friends even if you have different levels of income.

      I get that spending summers in Europe is something most people can’t afford… but wouldn’t it be weird if your friend moved to another continent for several months and *didn’t* mention it? And getting laid off feels shitty even for people who have a lot of money! That seems like a reasonable situation to look for a bit of sympathy from your friends!

      I think OP needs to be honest with themselves about which things are truly unreasonable and which things are the result of OP feeling unable to even be around their friend’s life. Try a conversation to lay some boundaries, but it may be that you’ve grown apart so much that the friendship isn’t something you want anymore.

      1. L-squared*


        Like I feel like its weird to say “vacation talk is off limits” or “I don’t care that you got laid off, even if you are rich”. That is just normal friendship stuff.

      2. Caliente Papillon*

        I think OP should also be honest enough within themselves to know if this friendship is untenable for them.
        If you think about it there are many differences in lifestyle, so to speak, beyond rich/poor that can pull people apart. My husband let go of a friend who only will socialize on the late night bar scene and would call only to talk about the latest “stable” or conquest. I found it amusing, if pathetic and was not the one who shut the relationship down. I had a friend who seemed pissed at me about things (I don’t know what because while she could be an angry acting out person she apparently couldn’t have a normal let’s clear the air/what is up with you conversation. I had to be like, you know you seem annoyed every time I open my mouth so, moving on here. She tried to say she had no issues but erm I know when I’m being treated rudely and I sure ain’t paying (my way) to hang out with a jerk when I can be hanging out with ppl who know how to regulate their emotions or taking a bubble bath instead. It’s ok to move on from people. It’s ok to re-set relationships to every few month convos instead of every week.
        I feel that the OP has to identify what would work for them about this relationship and try to make that happen.

        1. Mister_L*

          His “stable”? As in Russel “Women are horses” Hartley “stable”? I mean, the guy himself is a grifter, but his fanboy are people I wouldn’t want to associate with either.

    6. BoratVoiceMyWife*

      OP here. You’ve drawn a conclusion based on nothing that I wasn’t sympathetic to his being laid off. He landed a new, higher-paying job before he was laid off, is receiving severance anyway, and was left in no financial distress in the interim.

      He is a longtime friend and of course I want to hear about his life. I’m just tired of having to do the emotional labor of feigning sympathy for “wealthy people problems” like “oh no my bonus was too small” that do not in any way compare to the numbers I have to make work in order to keep a roof over my family’s head.

      The comparison I frequently draw upon is that I would never complain about my white-collar salary number to the cashier at the grocery store making minimum wage, because I’m aware that I probably have it much better.

      1. L-squared*

        But you also aren’t “friends” with that cashier.

        And look, I’m not saying your feelings are wrong. But again, it seems that a lot of what you are complaining about is kind of normal stuff friends discuss with each other.

        Being laid off sucks, even if you land on your feet quickly.

        And the thing is, he is wealthy, so many of his problems will be considered “Wealthy people problems”.

        But again, all of this is to say, you are getting more and more annoyed, but you’ve never said anything to him, and that isn’t really fair.

        1. There You Are*

          I have been close friends with my next-door neighbor for over 25 years. I make 4-5 times what she makes. When I get a new job or a promotion that comes with a pay bump, I tell her about it and we celebrate. If I travel somewhere fun or buy something helpful / cool that’s out of her price range, I tell her about it and we celebrate.

          What I don’t do is tell her to ask for more money at work. I don’t give her investment tips. I specifically ask about how her work is going and what kind of plants the store is stocking at whatever-time-of-year (she works in a retail garden center). I don’t shame her for not taking her cats in for annual checkups or for rushing one of them to the vet when they get the sniffles by saying, “Well, I *always* take my cats in immediately if anything seems so much as slightly off;” because she can’t afford it.

          In other words, I am aware that we are in different financial situations and therefore don’t complain when the market goes down and my 401k and Roth IRA lose X% in value. I know she doesn’t have any retirement savings, and so I know it would be rude to whine about mine dipping a few thousand bucks.

          Yes, the OP “should” have said something sooner, but it’s clear that she has been struggling with wording it the right way. She knows she needs to speak up and has asked for Alison’s help in how to go about doing it.

          I also think it’s fair for us to say that her friend is acting self-centered and very tone-deaf. Friends look for shared similarities to help deepen the friendship. Complaining about their good fortune is creating a divide. I wonder if the friend is this boorish and humble-braggy with everyone. (“I’m so upset! I only won the million-dollar lottery and not the billion-dollar one! If I would have played a 6 instead of a 2, I’d be a billionaire right now. Instead, I’m just a sad, depressed millionaire and I need you to make me feel better, friend-who-earns-20x-less-than-what-I-just-won.”)

          1. DJ Lance*

            It also doesn’t sound like the rich friend is doing much for OP. When my friends struggle, I watch their kids, help them rewrite their resume, or just take them out for a nice meal. What’s the point of friendship if you don’t make sacrifices of time and money for your friends when they need you?

            1. There You Are*

              Same. My next-door neighbor gets asked often by me if she’d be willing to take “this extra thing that they sent me two of, so I don’t have to throw it away” when, in reality, there’s only one thing and I bought it for her.

              I also deposit money into her account at our vet’s office when I know one of her cats isn’t doing well.

              Our friendship isn’t a one-way street. When I go over to her house and drink a beer or three, she refuses to let me pay her for them. She is also always there for me when I need an extra hand (and vice-versa).

              Since she won’t let me comp her for the beers, I find other ways to pay her back. Last year, I bought her a few pairs of Smartwool socks when she complained about her feet freezing at work during a super cold spell last winter. I left them in a gift bag on her back porch with a silly note about a northern village where the villagers always shared beer with each other at the end of a hard day’s work; but one villager, Svenja, never had any beer on hand. However, Svenja had plenty of socks. So she repaid her fellow villagers’ beer generosity with warm socks. :-)

              1. apparently one of the poors*

                I know you don’t mean this to be patronizing towards your neighbor’s financial situation, but I would be SO offended if I invited someone over for a beer and they thought I was so poor that I needed to be reimbursed for it. Grew up in a rural area, blue collar background, currently working a research job in academia, and paying someone back for a beer they shared with you has NEVER been a thing in any of those circles. It’s just…. sharing. Rich people are weird.

                1. There You Are*

                  It’s a thing among my friends. When I have her over for a beer, she offers to repay me, too. But, my home circumstances changed a few years ago (family issues) and my house isn’t a good place to hang out in as much as it used to be. So all of the beers are consumed at her house, and I literally never have any on hand to make it a BYOB thing. I feel like shit being a taker and never a giver, so I offer to repay her.

                  I’m sorry you’d be offended if one of your friends cared enough about you to not want to take advantage of you. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      2. MissGirl*

        I completely understand. I was totally fine hearing about someone’s trip to Hawaii when that was a pipe dream for me. However, hearing them go on and on about how long and uncomfortable the flight frustrated me.

    7. Boots*

      “Neither person is, IMO, doing anything wrong.”

      I’m respectfully and strongly disagreeing. There is simply no way for any reasonably intelligent human being to *not* know that an enormous percentage of the population of every developed nation is in terrible shape financially, esp in the US, thanks to 40+years of ruinous economic policies that have destroyed the middle class. (I urge you to read Robert Reich’s 11-14-20 column in The Guardian, specifically the section with then-new RAND stats.)

      Anyone with common sense + basic courtesy + a shred of decency wouldn’t do what the LW’s wealthy friend is doing. No wonder the LW is about to burst! Of course, saying what he needs to say calmly is the best way to proceed — but the longtime friend’s insensitivity is breathtaking. And FYI, when I struggled to make ends meet on my $25K salary at a medical clinic in the late 1990s (couldn’t, and had to take on debt for medical care), I *never* complained to the poor patients we served, all of whom were worse off than I, nor would I have.

      PS: You can’t liken this to convos about the dating arena (with one friend doing well and one doing poorly), bc money is crucial for survival whereas dating/a romantic partnership is not.

      1. Ellie*

        He might not know that OP has it so differently though. You’d think these things would be obvious, but they’re not.

        I live in a very high income area, that its hard to buy a house in. We bought ours right before the pandemic for a bargain and since then have done a lot of work to it. Both myself and my husband were born poor, went to university (in Australia, where you pay for it on loan but its not as high as it is in other countries), and worked hard to get where we are now. I just assumed that meant every one of our neighbours was doing better than we were. They certainly talked and looked like it, with their designer clothes and multiple holidays a year. I got a shock though earlier this year, when the interest rates started creeping up. Suddenly, our kids were the only ones still doing all their extra-curriculars, and still having birthday parties. And I know not being able to afford both ballet and gymnastics is a rich person problem, but it did not occur to me before that, that they were struggling at all. I realised that we’re the only couple in the area that are double income, everyone else was born better off, but are single income now, and we’ve overtaken them. Looking back on it, I’ve made some pretty tone deaf comments too.

        1. Dr Liseuse*

          “You’d think these things would be obvious, but they’re not.”

          It can be really hard to tell! I have a bunch of friends who all earn about what I do, but all our financial positions are different. My mother died when I was 29, I inherited a bunch of money and bought a small house with a small mortgage. My mortgage repayments are tiny compared to a friend who bought a house with her partner, after their parents also died, and they both inherited a bunch of money. They also bought a smallish house but have a huge mortgage because they live close to our capital city. I don’t. Outwardly we look like we’re doing identically.

          I know OP has said it’s frustrating when I “remind him that his worldview and level of opportunity is in the vast minority” but I’m not sure it’s clear that OP has made it clear that they are not in that minority.

    8. Tiger Snake*

      Yeah. I kind of struck me that it seems like LW expects her friend to “just know” to not discuss finances with her anymore. And that’s not fair for him to know if you haven’t told him.

      Her friend isn’t showing off or anything either. These are legitimately events that are unfortunate to happen to anyone, and its normal that he’d want to bemoan to people who he considers friends it’s okay to talk money with. To LW, they’re world-changing amounts that make her turn green with envy, to the point where she can’t think of anything but be resentful that he could afford to just swallow that loss. And yeah, there’s a lot to be envious about there. But that doesn’t mean that just because her friend can afford to have lost those opportunities and that much money doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt him and his lifestyle.

  2. Edna*

    Maybe I’m a bad person, but I would be sorely tempted to institute a complaining tax. For every time said friend wants to whine about losing money in taxes, he also pays me a tax too. Oh, you lost the opportunity to buy some gazillion dollar summer house? I’ll nod along and smile but that will be fifty bucks please.

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      You may be a bad person (I’m not qualified to judge) but you are also a smart and funny one.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Right? “Want to help me save for a house? You owe me $50 every time you complain about taxes.”

    3. Delta Delta*

      I’ve done this! I once declared my desk a “no complaint zone” and reminded people once. Then I charged them a dime per complaint (because I like dimes and because they’re not very much money). This changed fairly quickly. Except for the person who once walked in with a roll of dimes and asked if he could start a tab. That was more funny than anything else. But this could potentially also work with the coworker if OP is clear about not being able to hear these complaints AND if OP adds a step. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money, but the fact of calling awareness to it would potentially make him stop.

    4. Distracted Procrastinator*

      wouldn’t it be lovely if that was a real thing? No more swear jars, now they are all whining about privilege jars, and they don’t take anything smaller than a $20.

    5. Busy Middle Manager*

      I am going to comment elsewhere but this one is legitimate especially in some states and cities with higher local taxes on top of high property taxes for mediocre houses. It’s actually painful, given inflation and the housing bubble. I do know many upper middle class people who are struggling because of this. And we can go “poo hoo hooo” to it but it doesn’t mean it’s not a thing. The “can’t afford another summer house” is the 1% of 1% thing, not what most people complaining about taxes are talking about.

      1. I have opinions...*

        Its about lifestyle, not dollars. If you are in the same sized house, driving the same kind of car, eating the same kind of food, saving the same percentage of your income… then of course even if all the dollars are on a different scale, you are still in the same place, effectively.

        But if your house is twice as large, your car is luxury, you have a nanny and a housekeeper, kids are in private school, you save 15% of your income for retirement, and similar things like that, then you aren’t in the same position as someone living paycheck to paycheck on a bare bones budget.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          This. A lot of people think that not having any money left over after spending it on luxury and/or truly optional things is somehow the same as not having any money left over after choosing between paying rent and eating. You’re not broke, you’re just spending a lot!

          Which is fine, a lot of people who can afford to do so choose to max out how much they spend. But just because lifestyle creep is real, doesn’t mean you don’t sound out of touch complaining about your taxes.

          1. No Longer Looking*

            Caramel & Cheddar has the right of it. There are a lot of financial podcasts out there that will tell you the same about evaluating your spending critically (“I Will Teach You To Be Rich” on Youtube is the most recent one I’ve found doing a good job showing how the same money issues often crop up regardless of your income).

            Honestly it sounds like OP has a quite decent income (if OPs friend at 6x OPs income is “approaching 1%” then that should put OP solidly in the 10%), and while I definitely sympathize with the pain of listening to someone doing so much better, I also wonder whether OP would benefit from some self-reflection about whether or not some of the conversational stress is coming from within, from feeling trapped in a self-created financial problem.

            1. PayRaven*

              I think this is unnecessarily unkind to OP–it’s pretty clear from their letter (single child, taking on freelance on nights and weekends) that their problem isn’t a lack of self-reflection.

        2. Hannah Lee*

          There’s an Avett Brothers song with lyrics that lists characteristics of someone’s life:

          “When nothing is owed or deserved or expected
          And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected
          If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected
          Decide what to be and go be it”

          The one about “and your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected” always stood out to me. Maybe this isn’t what the line means in context, but I think that description would likely apply to LW’s friend, but not to LW. Like day to day, LW’s friend has enough short and long term resources, wealth now to be able to weather a misfortune in life – a pause in income due to health issues, business changes, missing out on a stock grant, a car damaged in an accident, an investment that doesn’t pay off, But LW, if their freelance work dries up, or they become ill, or lose their primary job … they might lose their apartment, they might not be able to provide for their child(ren), they might need to scramble for work, work way more hours, put off retirement for years, or get sick, become disabled or die because they can’t afford to pay for required care.

          As an example, LW’s friend developing insulin dependent diabetes, that friend would likely roll with it, he can afford insulin and other meds, a CGM, routine blood work and other tests, follow up appointments, maybe special meals other things that allow him to manage his health without worrying about finances or changing where he lives or other big changes to his circumstances beyond managing that health condition. If he runs into an insurance roadblock, he can just pay out of pocket NBD.

          If LW or their child develops insulin dependent diabetes … monthly costs of insulin could blow their budget, suddenly they can no longer make ends meet, they might have to make hard choices about housing, food, work, medicine, might put off their own care, try to ration meds and be facing LT bigger issues, or they may sacrifice or run up credit card bills to pay for meds/care for their child.

          In that case, whether government policies maintain or enhance or reduce social safety nets or keep or gut the ACA could make a HUGE difference to LW’s day to day life and the LT outlook for them and their child. Those things likely would make very little difference to their friend’s LT outlook.

      2. Yorick*

        Not really, no. A person is not struggling because the gross amount of their bonus is worth their friend’s annual salary but after taxes they’re actually only going to take home half their friend’s annual salary.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          I’ve gotten a few straw man arguments. Nowhere did I say or imply they are struggling? Who is talking about struggling? Why do you need to be in a horrible struggle to talk about something?

          All I said was people complain about it and it’s legitimate at times. you don’t need to be homeless while working an 80 hour work week to be entitled to complain about money!

      3. middle manager problems*

        It must be so hard for upper middle class people to own a home with an assessed value that high, in an area with high property taxes! It’s really hard to live in a place where the taxes are high, with all those taxpayer-funded benefits like great public schools! Gosh, imagine if it became too hard to keep up with the taxes and those poor upper middle class people had to sell the valuable house that they own!!! What would they do then, buy a less expensive house in a lower cost of living area?? Or God forbid, RENT a home?? Perish the thought.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          I mean, with these sort of comments, I guess we can’t help OP. They’re asking how to handle the conversations. they can’t eradicate everyone from having money. You really need to be able to talk to people of different backgrounds to exist in HCOL areas since they have a huge diversity of people in terms of wealth and income.

          Even your bad faith arguments are not that great. For example, speaking of home assessments, many areas are bubbly in prices right now and I would say it is unfair to have to pay huge taxes on value that isn’t really real (can you actually sell the house at the values from 2022?), that may be disappearing during the next recession. Not all schools in high-tax areas are good, and in many many many places, people who don’t pay much in taxes benefit from good school systens, so there’s also that big blind spot

          What do you propose OP do?

          1. middle manager problems*

            In what way did your original comment help OP? It offered no advice for what to say to their friend, just pushback on anyone saying it bothers them when a wealthy person complains about taxes.

            When considering what is “actually painful,” and who is “struggling,” (your post literally said those words, despite you denying it in subsequent replies) OP is in a much more precarious situation than their rich friend or your hypothetical-definitely-not-talking-about-myself “upper middle class” person who thinks their taxes are too high. Suggesting “You really need to be able to talk to people of different backgrounds to exist in HCOL areas” is a devastatingly out of touch response to this letter and suggests that it’s too much to ask that anyone with money be empathetic to OP’s stressful paycheck-to-paycheck situation. If OP’s friend shares this mindset, I don’t have high hopes for the outcome of any conversation that makes use of Alison’s suggested script.

            My actual advice for OP is to start mentally preparing for the end of this friendship, because their friend is already displaying signs that they either don’t understand OP’s situation (which means either they never invite OP to share about their own life, or they don’t listen when OP does), or they understand but have no empathy. OP also shared that they take all criticism/pushback “incredibly poorly” which suggests this pattern is unlikely to change and that bringing up the problem will lead to an outburst of some kind. So OP, my advice to you is to remember that you don’t have to stay friends with someone when every conversation with them sucks for you, even if you’ve been friends for a long time.

            1. Ellie*

              My advice to OP would be to have a frank and honest conversation with their friend about the state of their finances. If they can sit down together and say, ‘Hey, I’m really happy for you, but it’s hard to hear about your vacation when I’m struggling to put food on the table. Can we agree to give the financial talk a rest? Can we talk about instead? I really value our friendship and I don’t want this to come between us’, then I think they have a good shot.

          2. jesus*

            “in many many many places, people who don’t pay much in taxes benefit from good school systens”

            right until they get pushed out of their neighborhood by gentrification and rising cost of living.

      4. bamcheeks*

        Whether or not it’s legitimate is irrelevant to who you complain to! Like, me and my partner are both on very solid professional salaries, but still feeling the effects of the Tories’ cost of living crisis. It’s true that we’re talking about the energy bill price rises, and things like whether we can still afford all our kids’ activities and whether we need to think about a cheaper holiday next year and should we put off redecorating the living room, but FFS we don’t moan about that to our friends who are on postgrad student bursaries or on single incomes. Pick your audience!

        1. Angstrom*

          Exactly. You don’t complain about the slow growth of your retirement savings to folks who have none.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, this. The LW’s rich friend should stick to complaining about his rich guy problems to others who are in a similar situation.

            Sounds like he needs a reminder that their finacial situations are very different now. Either the friend stops complaining to the LW or the friendship is, if not over, at least a lot less close than it used to be.

            The LW isn’t being a bad friend, much less a bad person, for stating a boundary that she doesn’t want to hear him talk about his finances anymore.

    6. Lea*

      I have some coworker who make a bit more than me and sometimes I say ‘you know I don’t have [inset industry name] money’

      If you want to go lighthearted that might shut it down although I don’t actually have any malice when people tell me about their spending so not sure if op can do that

  3. Teekanne Aus Schokolade*

    I know this isn’t what OP wants, but with a friend that successful, I’d be asking them to help me network and get that better job which sounds possible given their shared base career experiences.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      The OP says “We are in vastly different industries”. It’s their starting salaries that were similar.

    2. Michelle Smith*

      I don’t think this is the right course of action to suggest. My best friend makes significantly more money than I do and lives a very different lifestyle. We’re in entirely different industries – she does data analysis for a major for-profit corporation and I do consulting work adjacent to the legal field in a non-profit. She lives in a low-cost of living city in a state with relatively low taxes. I live in a city that shows up on many “most expensive cities in America” lists and live paycheck to paycheck. Not only would I not be happy moving to where she lives or working in her field, the work she and her company do doesn’t use any of the skills I have and doesn’t align with my values or passion. And that’s okay! We have a fantastic relationship regardless of those differences. LW doesn’t need help with networking, they need their friend to be a real friend.

      1. HonorBox*

        This is such a great point. Your friend can be your friend without being a career or financial advisor.

      2. Phyllis Refrigeration*

        Right I work in finance and my friends work in higher Ed. Unless they plan to leave higher Ed (which no one has plans to) my “advice” means nothing.

      3. M2*

        You can switch industries. My Sister switched a couple times and each was the result of networking or knowing someone in that particular industry. She also asked she said I’m interested in working in X at your company or company Y would you mind speaking to me about it/ looking over my resume/ brainstorming with me. It’s def not the norm but at least one of the people she asked for advice got her resume to the hiring manager she was interviewed (with a couple others) and got the job. She worked her tail off to then be promoted 4x and is now making tons of money. Previously she was in an industry that didn’t make lots of money and before that she was really struggling. But she wanted to do that and wanted the help.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      They are in different industries.

      They don’t have a shared base career experience aside from the similar pay/lifestyle at the beginning of their careers.

    4. BoratVoiceMyWide*

      OP here — we’re in vastly different industries. Some of my skills are transferrable, but jobs in his industry (for salary and other reasons) are extremely hot commodities and highly competitive. I’m successful and good at what I do, but would I stand out in a pool of two thousand candidates? Probably not.

      He’s used his standing in various prior roles to refer me internally, but none of them has ever born fruit (or even a phone screen). He’s said many times that one day he’ll be in a position to “create a role and hire me for it,” but I can shit in one hand and wish in the other and see which hand fills up first.

      1. PostalToast*

        Any chance he has connections in his network to your industry? Someone on a board, spouse of a business contact, etc?

        Maybe not or maybe even if he did you wouldn’t want to go there. But thought worth mentioning.

          1. PostalToast*

            My reading is that friend tried to get OP a job in friend’s industry. I didn’t see anything about friend using his network to help OP with a job in OP’s industry. But maybe I missed it.

            1. askalice*

              Having some random rich guy from a completely different field make recommendations in my niche industry would yield exactly 0 results. Just because friend is doing very very well in his industry does not mean he has anything to offer a friend networking and seeking in a completely different industry.

              The letter writer was not asking for how to maximise value and opportunity in this friendship with a wealthy person, but how to approach this conversational short-sightedness of their friend. I think Alison’s upfront approach is good, but at some point, it might be time to let the friendship run it’s course. This stuff can be hard.

              1. PostalToast*

                Just because it won’t work in your industry doesn’t mean it won’t in OPs…? And of course, maybe it wont, but maybe it could open doors.

                OP’s friend has tried to help OP get jobs in his field, and said he wanted to craft a job for OP someday, so it sounds like they have already discussed ways friend’s success can help OP.

                1. ClaireW*

                  I’m struggling to see how this could work outside of a very few quite generalised roles? Like I work in tech, there’s literally no way that I’d be convinced to hire someone just because a rich person asked me to. Are there really people who think that rich = smart to the point that they’re take a recommendation from a rich guy as more valuable than a regular application from a qualified person?

      2. Marna Nightingale*

        The thing I find oddest is that you say you’ve always been comfortable discussing money with each other, but also that he resents any kind of pushback.

        Which suggests that either you’ve previously been in agreement about all matters of financial importance, or things were never quite as comfortable as they sound.

        It’s also kind of worrisome that he doesn’t seem to have noticed that you’re no longer talking about your financial situation with him.

        I would probably respond to his taxation complaints with “OK, look, the thing about living in a society is, if you make a lot of money you should pay a lot of taxes”, and a few of the others with “your application to be first up against the wall when the revolution comes is accepted”, but I’m kind of a tactless pinko.

        Alison’s advice is, as always, great, but I am a bit worried that you don’t feel like you can just come out and say (adjusted for your personal vernacular) “My Dude, you know I love you like a brother but I don’t want to hear another fuckin’ word about money from you because I’m at my wits’ end and don’t have two pennies to rub together.”

        Do you feel like you can be straight with him in other conversations? Like, is it just that he’s weird on money, or is he kind of “my way or the highway” in general?

        I’m not trying to convince you to write him off, to be clear. Telling friends that they’re doing something that hurts and annoys you and you want them to knock it off has a pretty high success rate. I’m just suggesting that you may want to take a bit of time to make sure you’re really clear on your ask.

    5. DanniellaBee*

      That is exactly my thinking. Network the hell out of this! Even being in different industries you never know. Very wealthy people are often well connected.

  4. Cataclysm*

    Is there any chance you could just tell him you’ll be super busy for a while (which is true! You’re busy with your job hunt and freelance work), you won’t be able to respond to messages, and then put him on mute for a while?

    1. Despachito*

      I think that this friendship does not deserve avoidance but clear speech.

      OP says they have been talking about finances freely before, he may not realize that it started grating OP the wrong way.

      It is a bit obtuse but who isn’t from time to time? I would much rather have a friend gently make me aware that I am putting my foot in my mouth than avoid me and wait for me to magically find out.

      1. Stephen!*

        Nothing wrong with taking a break, though. If OP misses contact with Richie Rich, then the friendship is worth putting work into. Or maybe they realize this is a Small Doses friend. Who knows! But taking a small step back to evaluate isn’t a drastic move.

    2. Neeul*

      OP doesn’t want to cut their friend off. Going low contact and freezing them out doesn’t actually solve the problem. They just want to avoid hearing their specific high-income complaints. This would be like cutting off a finger to remove a splinter.
      The only real solution is to directly address it with them, even if its an uncomfortable conversation.

    3. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

      That’s a shitty response to a close friend. Talk to him with words about your feelings. Don’t be childish and avoidant.

  5. Marvin O’Gravel Balloonface*

    The only one of these behaviors that isn’t manifestly jerkish when directed at someone you know has a lot less money than you do is encouraging your friend to ask for a raise, and even that is something you should shut up about after your friend explains the deal with their industry. (I do know a lot of people who feel like they couldn’t possibly ask for raise or negotiate up and then it turns out they can absolutely boost things by 20% just by asking! But the LW knows better than anyone else whether they’re in that kind of a situation.)

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Even with asking for and receiving a raise of like 20%, when the wealth disparity is this great, it’s likely the salary increase isn’t going to dramatically change how grating this guy’s behaviour is.

      1. Marvin O’Gravel Balloonface*

        Yes, this is a major “know your audience” thing. Although it’s possible that a major wealth disparity would be less grating if it were the difference between comfortable but not wealthy / extremely wealthy rather than UNcomfortable / extremely wealthy.

        But dude, your friend who is scraping by and pinching pennies is not the right person for your idle thoughts about Tuscany vs the Riviera next year.

    2. MK*

      I would argue that a lot of these behaviours are manifestly jerkish even when directed at someone who has as much or more money that you do. Complaining about taxes when earing huge amounts of money and throwing around how much your fancy vacation cost you isn’t a good look under any circumstances. And of course OP knows their friend best, but he does sound, if not an outight jerk, then incredibly self-centred; it really does not take a remarkable feat of empathy to understand that other people are in a different financial position than you are, OP shouldn’t have had to remind him of this more than once.

      1. Marvin O’Gravel Balloonface*

        “Ugh, taxes took half my bonus” is a totally reasonable complaint! As is “I got laid off right before I vested!” It’s okay to talk about things that happened to you even if you’re rich. “We had a miscommunication about when we were paying for our summer chateau rental and I had to run around moving money into the checking account to pay the private school tuition, it was so annoying!” is also a perfectly reasonable thing to complain about…to someone in a similar position.

        1. TechWorker*

          Personally I actually don’t think ‘taxes took half my bonus’ is a reasonable thing to moan about. Want to live in a functional society where people don’t get screwed over? Maybe that’s the cost… :)
          (I say this as someone with a marginal tax rate of 60% on most of my bonus)

          1. There You Are*

            Yup. My ex got all worked up that one time I got a bonus equal to 25% of my salary and he suddenly realized that ~30% was going to go to the IRS.

            Like, my dude, why don’t you just celebrate the 70% that’s going into our bank account?

            I used to think he was the only person who could win the multi-billion dollar LOTTO and do nothing but complain about the taxes, but now I know there are at least two of them out there.

  6. amanda*

    Removed. The OP didn’t request financial advice and this is as unsolicited as the friend’s. – Alison

    1. amoeba*

      Wow. Probably OT, but I was wondering how the “almost in the literal top 1%” fits with the liftestyle that’s described here – because, while obviously you’re still very, very well off with a top 1% salary in Europe, that sounded more like a 0.1% lifestyle. Just looked it up and in Germany, the 1% salary was 150.000 € before tax or 86.000 € after tax. I literally had no idea it was that different.

      1. amoeba*

        Also, even in Switzerland (kind of known for being rich, haha), the top 1% salary is around 300.000 Sfr and 900.000 is actually the 0.1% border.

        The franc, the Euro, and the dollar tend to be almost 1:1:1, so… still pretty big difference.

        Sorry for going on about this, but my mind is a bit blown and honestly not even sure what that means in comparison.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          This is actually very eye-opening. Thank you for going down this rabbit hole for me so I don’t have to.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        woah, I had the same reaction you did – that lifestyle sounded solidly 1% to me. That’s crazy, especially that the split between the bottom 1% and the top 1% is so much larger. Actually it explains a lot.

      3. Media Monkey*

        i just looked this up for the UK. top 1% is just inder £175k which is about $220k (or 200k euros)

    2. BoratVoiceMyWife*

      OP here. I guess my sourcing was off (I took my 1% number reference from Forbes), he’s $500k base, for extra context.

      1. Minerva*

        Still, that is a pretty significant amount of money, especially when we are talking bonuses on top of that.

        But that does put him squarely in the “I’m not Bezos rich so I am not “rich”” mindset, which is almost even more difficult to deal with in some respects. Your friend sounds like my BIL, who is in this income bracket and has the same braggy “I can afford so much” yet weirdly bitter “BUT I SHOULD HAVE SO MUCH MORE!” attitude. Your irritation is super valid.

        Best of luck in being able to have a good conversation with your friend where you can lay out how this is frustrating for you.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I can relate to that maybe a little, based on my first 10-12 years in the US, when most of us in my then-friend group had all immigrated to the US at the same time, all started working here in the same field (IT) on the same entry-level salaries (mine was 20K in the late 90s… not a lot for a family of 4), and then very quickly moved up in pay. When I now remember the things all of us in the group were spending money on, the vacations we took together, the houses we bought just to show people that we, too, had made it in the US, the frequency that we threw parties with… I shake my head and wonder what we were thinking throwing our money away. And it was never enough. Someone always had a nicer vacation or a better car or house or whatever and you had to hustle to catch up. At one point most of the couples in the friend group somehow ended up buying 5000 sq ft homes and then at every party, the conversation would turn to how hard it was to find good help to take care of a house. So glad that I had to drop out of that rat race after my divorce 14 years ago. My per-capita income plummeted, money was very tight for a while especially when the kids were in college, but I didn’t have to keep up with anyone and was honestly feeling happier and more free than I had ever been in my previous life. TL;DR I can totally see this guy and his *real* friend group all feeling like they are in dire financial straits because they cannot keep up with one another. Triple their salaries tomorrow and it will still not be enough.

          1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

            I live in the Midwest and I feel like so often we do the opposite: Try to prove that we are more frugal than anyone else! My peers and I are pretty well-off financially but we’re still telling our kids to “save the wrapping paper” and washing our ziplock bags so they can be reused. We have no qualms about telling people we got something at a thrift store or used a 40% off Kohls coupon. LOL

            1. anon for this*

              This is also the practice in New England, where I live. And when my salary was closer to the middle-class norm, I had fun saving money, too.

              When you can afford new ziplock bags, then it’s fun to see who can save the greatest number of old ones. But when you work for a unionized newspaper, and you (and your coworkers) haven’t gotten a raise since the first Obama administration, sometimes it would be a real treat to buy new ziplock bags.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                I don’t remember my old friend group doing this. I’m guessing because we all *had* to do those things during our first couple of years here to survive, or (like washing and reusing plastic bags) back in the home country, and didn’t want to do it again because it brought back flashbacks of being really financially strapped.

                When I got my first job offer (for the 20K/year entry-level job), my dad (my parents came here one year ahead of us) drove me to a Goodwill, because I didn’t have a car yet and didn’t drive yet either. There, I spent $30 and filled a couple of large trash bags with what became my business casual work clothes for the first couple of years. And then I didn’t go near a thrift store again for the next 10-12 years, except to donate. Now though, I’ll have a hard time finding anything in my closet that didn’t come from a thrift store.

          2. Minerva*

            There is DEFINETELY a distortion as you start to make more money. My BIL did go full “keeping up with the Joneses” and lives in a very posh suburb outside a major US city. He looks at my family and is baffled when he looks at our family and seeing people who are much happier than he is while making far less, mostly because we found a standard of living we liked when we made enough money to sustain it and stuck with it.

            You’re right, the only way to get out of that race is not to run, either because you can’t or because you don’t want to.

        2. Yorick*

          We have a friend who probably doesn’t make this much but makes multiple $100Ks and referred to himself as “lower middle class”

    3. Hillary*

      Those figures are somewhat deceptive – it looks like most of the sources talk about wages (the $819k figure comes from social security data). That means it excludes other sources of income like investments and real estate. It also excludes stock grants.

      One of the ways the rich get richer is by structuring their income so it’s in lower-tax-rate categories.

      1. amoeba*

        True. That’s probably a general thing, anyway – wage inequality is real but it’s by no means the only or largest factor (in Europe as well!)

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I looked it up too – the search results I got said that $819K was the average salary of a 1%er. One link said the 1% range started at 650K, though it might vary by state. (Which is close to what the OP commented on this thread.)

  7. Boof*

    You could just respond with your own financial concerns whenever he brings up his – he mentions his investment portfolio performance, you reply “yeah i managed to find a card that would let me float this month’s emergency expenses for Y%” etc etc

    1. Silver Robin*

      Yes! Be transparent about your stuff too; make it normal and if your friend has any self reflective abilities, he will realize how tone deaf some of his complaints are. One hopes. But
      I still think transparency is a good idea; we should not feel shame talking about our own realities.

      1. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

        Yeah if OP is feeling like it’s awkward to be honest about their own ups and downs just because they come from a lack of money instead of a excess of it, that’s probably contributing to the problem. If he has really out-of-touch ideas about how your life works, maybe talking through them more might help. (Paired of course with the direct “this bothers me” speech noted above.)

        It’s not embarrassing for an adult to be like “yeah, unfortunately I can’t afford that” in a non self-pitying and just chill way. Don’t treat it like it is.

      1. pally*

        Then counter with “what do you suggest I pay the car repair bill with instead?” and explain that there’s only enough funds in the checking account for the rent and groceries for the month. So what to give up? Housing? Eating? Maybe they can help choose.

        1. Kay*

          I think this might be a good plan. Same for when the friend starts talking about investing for passive income (FYI – for a reasonable passive income you have to have a LOT of money invested!). Something along the lines of – I already switched to all generic food brands, I’m working 6 nights and 7 days a week and I’m barely keeping food on the table, let alone saving anything. Any ideas?

          If your friend hasn’t heard the brutality of the situation they might not realize just what things look like for you. Not that it makes the obliviousness less obnoxious, but confronting the stark reality might change things.

          1. metadata minion*

            “FYI – for a reasonable passive income you have to have a LOT of money invested!”

            Yeah, I’m not living paycheck-to-paycheck, but with the amount of money I have saved, I might be able to buy an extra pizza at the end of the year if I invested it. Woo. And meanwhile it wouldn’t be easily available for emergencies the way it is in a savings account.

        2. Lea*

          Honestly sometimes my mom
          Has told me I need to buy stuff for the house and I generally tell her unless she’s planning on paying for it she needs to chill

          Op has been letting this go
          So long they are resentful. Gentle pushback earlier and consistently will solve a lot of this

          1. Armchair Analyst*

            I did this when my father-in-law asked us about when we were getting another car.
            “Um, not to be rude, but we can’t afford one right now are you going to buy it for us?” He declined. I try not to spend any time in his presence

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        If he does that, that’s when LW would know that it is, in fact, time to end the friendship. Nothing dramatic, just become too busy to meet and talk and it’ll fizzle out on its own.

        If he doesn’t, then it is worth salvaging.

    2. Beth*

      Obviously I don’t know OP’s specific friend, but what I’ve found in general is, when someone is well off, they often get very uncomfortable hearing about other people’s financial struggles. (Or, at least, financial struggles due to low income–financial frustration due to investments going poorly, higher taxes on high income, exchange rates in their vacation destination, seem to be mostly ok!)

      As someone who’s often been the broke-er person in a friendship, I don’t really like talking about my financial stuff with richer friends–it usually puts the burden on me to both resolve my own problem AND make them feel better about having more than me. I’ve instead leaned towards money being a no-go topic (with maybe a joking “unless you’re planning to give it to me lol” depending on the friendship).

      1. Lea*

        “ unless you’re planning to give it to me lol” depending on the friendship”

        YES! That’s how I would handle the ‘why don’t you buy a house’ type questions. Unless you’re planning to pay for it…

      2. turquoisecow*

        My experience has been that the literally have no idea how to deal with that stuff.

        A few years ago I finally got my passport and posted about it on FB and an acquaintance of my husband’s commented how surprised he was that I didn’t have one, and what a shame more Americans didn’t travel internationally. When a friend of mine and I pointed out that international travel is expensive, he suggested things like credit card points and a savings account. All incredibly unhelpful when you’re barely managing to pay rent. He had no actually helpful advice, and pointing out that the income just wasn’t there did not affect his worldview – he just didn’t comprehend it.

        The guy is a jerk in general and we rarely speak to him, but his cluelessness is not unusual.

    3. Lora*

      It’s my experience that the response is not actually what you think it will be. Had a friend (note past tense) whose family was always comfortably upper middle class with a few upper upper class more distant relatives, and she literally could NOT comprehend how it was even possible that there are many people who do not have enough money to meet their most basic needs. It was simply impossible for her to wrap her mind around. At one point I did sit her down and walk her through the numbers for a few hours, explaining why people, generally, do not have money for international travel and multiple children in day care and multiple investment properties and things like that. She wanted to know, why didn’t I just ask my family for money. I explained veeeerrrrryyy slooooooowly that my family has less money than I do. There followed a bunch of nonsense about how if we all just stop getting Starbucks and avocado toast and swallow our pride to ask our more distant relatives for money, somehow we will magically get money and be millionaires. She wasn’t actually stupid in other respects, but there aren’t any great Google results for how the *majority* of people experience the American economy.

      And I have experienced this repeatedly with very wealthy people, especially those with generational wealth. Not only do they find it 100% incomprehensible, as if you’ve just started speaking Klingon, but they also get really weird and emotional about you basically telling them “so a lot of things you’ve said to me are actually downright offensive and hurtful…” They also have a lot of …weeeelll I’m just going to refer to John Scalzi’s “Being Poor” essay and say, they have a lot of beliefs about poor or even middle class people, and you’re essentially telling them a thing which they believe with their whole heart is completely wrong nonsense. That’s a tough thing to swallow and people generally reject it. And it is very much a belief thing, baked into their worldview, which is extremely difficult to change even with hard evidence and personal experience.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I still remember that thread about the woman who worked in the bakery and employedd a Jane who technically didn’t need to work, and like, people were genuinely morally offended that anyone could think bad things about rich people. Like, the levels of “people who are wealthy must on some level be morally better people and must be protected from any suggestion that they are not” was absolutely off the charts. People were saying how lucky that town was to have wealthy incomers, because being exposed to wealthy people would teach them better financial skills! I still cannot get my head around it.

          1. bamcheeks*

            Not everyone, but there were a comments saying, “you can learn how to manage money from Jane and her friends and get wealthier yourself” and “the fact that Jane is rich proves she’s worked hard”, and I do not think either of those things are true.

  8. Misty_Meaner*

    An analogy might be a good way to get your point across to your friend. Something like, “when you complain to me about your money issues, it feels like when someone complains they’re tired from walking up some stairs to someone next to them in a wheelchair. I would love to have YOUR problems instead of scraping to make ends meet. I’m HAPPY for you that you’re successful! You’ve accomplished a lot, but sometimes it feels like too much. Can you respect that?”

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Don’t use that analogy–someone with a less-visible condition such as heart or muscle trouble might well be that exhausted from walking up the stairs.

      1. amoeba*

        I mean, if they’re as close as it seems from the letter, they’d know whether the metaphor is appropriate or not. You should obviously adapt to one that fits… (like complaining about the taste of your dinner to somebody who’s literally starving, etc.)

      2. Neeul*

        But they’re not talking about someone with heart or muscle trouble. They’re talking about an imaginary person from metaphor land. The metaphor is literally built around the premise that the first person doesn’t have any trouble with staircases.
        I’m an advocate for invisible divisibility awareness, and used to suffer from bouts of asthma that left me severely winded/using an inhaler after a single flight of stairs in the fall when it really flared up. Misty’s suggested analogy is honestly fine to use, (although I think a direct conversation would work better than an analogy.)

        1. Dust Bunny*

          It’s still not a great habit.

          I mean, the LW could say, “Imagine that that bonus you’re complaining about was your entire year’s salary” instead. If someone is money-motivated that should give them some perspective.

      3. Misty_Meaner*

        It was an example…one I’ve seen happen, actually (people can be SO clueless, it’s boggling) so that’s why it popped into my head. The point was, make it relatable so they understand that they’re complaining about not having a dollar to someone who hasn’t got a dime, essentially. The concept is adaptable. Also, I DO have a heart condition and am easily winded, but I STILL wouldn’t complain to someone who’d love to be able to walk at all, about being tired of walking!

      4. SnackAttack*

        They’re not using real-life examples, though – these are fake people used for the purpose of an analogy. So in this case the fake person doesn’t have heart/muscle issues.

      5. arthall*

        “Don’t use that analogy–someone with a less-visible condition such as heart or muscle trouble might well be that exhausted from walking up the stairs.”

        Pretty sure the non-existent person in this *imaginary situation* does not care because they don’t actually exist and therefore, neither does their invisible disability.

      6. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

        Don’t pretend not to understand hypotheticals by inserting real-world whatabouts in them that are unrelated to the point being made. It’s incredibly annoying to have someone conversing in bad faith.

      7. Neutral Janet*

        People with heart conditions and muscle troubles are still much, much better at walking than people in wheelchairs, especially non-ambulatory people, so the analogy still works.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      I don’t think this is the place for an analogy. OP says they used to be very frank with their friend about finances, and it certainly sounds like the friend is continuing to be.

      OP, if you want to keep this friendship, you either have to be frank about your own financial situation (not “most people can’t afford to invest that way” but “*I* can’t afford to invest that way”) or set a new boundary that you will not discuss finances. (His different lifestyle will still come through when talking to him, but you can probably get him to stop giving specific figures.)

    3. Kel*

      I think we can make a metaphor here without using a hypothetical disability.

      You’re taking an elevator and I have stairs, and you’re asking me why I can’t get to the fifth floor as fast as you, or without running out of breath.

      1. Lea*

        I mean, chandlers friends rant about ‘your diamond shoes are too tight’ would work and leave off the issue of disability

  9. Where Wolf?*

    Some people just are tone deaf about financial differences. When I was a child and our family home flooded from a hurricane, my mother was on the phone with her cousin who makes significantly more money than my mother did. Her cousin was also in the area hit by the hurricane. So while my mother was listing off damage to our hot water tank, septic system, AC unit, plus many personal items lost in the flooding, her cousin said “Oh yeah, the damage was just as bad at my house; I lost the roof of my boat house and my fishing boat got dinged up with debris.”

    My mom was so upset that her cousin equated damage to her luxury fishing boat to the essentials needed to run our home. Obviously the damage was important to my cousin but she didn’t have the sense to just sympathize with my mom rather than drawing attention to herself, even when their financial differences are no secret.

    I hope a discussion with your friend will set them straight so you can salvage the relationship, but I do worry some people, even knowing the differences in finances, can’t help it. Their problems are important to them, even when those problems are in an entirely different tax bracket, so they want to share with those they care about and they can’t understand how upsetting it is. Good luck, LW.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I had a friend who kept pushing me to do [artistic hobby] as a business.

      She was an unemployed hopeful-writer whose husband worked in IT. I was a single woman working 55 hours a week at $9 an hour. It damaged the friendship.

      1. Caliente Papillon*

        I mean if someone is that obtuse about your actual life and existence do they even know you? Ugh

    2. boof*

      yeah I do wonder, if someone is mostly motivated by money and thinking about it, they might have a hard time to think of something else to talk about. Not sure what mutual interests op has with their friend, but it talking about money is off, and also family trips and plans are off because the options LWs friend is considering are painfully different than what the LW is considering… what mutual ground is there to safely discuss? Are there movies, or events in the country of origin, or something else that is a safe topic? If the LW isn’t comfortable outright asking their friend to stop talking about money, and/or maybe directly stating how hard they are struggling with what their own current conundrums are whenever their friend brings up t heir own, they could change the topic every time it comes up; but they need a “safe” topic to change to.

      1. amoeba*

        I mean, it sounds like the friend is not just talking about their vacation but literally throwing around numbers on how much they cost.

        “Idly throwing around the amount he spent on luxurious, weeks-long vacations to Europe”

        Which I’d honestly find weird and braggy and mildly annoying even without the financial disparity…

          1. Cmdrshprd*

            I think this is a bit unfair to the friend. OP admits that the history/standard is to be very specific about finances/details.

            I get where OP is coming from, and friend could be a bit more sensitive, but I don’t think it is anything malicious/bragging. The friend is talking about their life it just happens to be very different from OPs, IMO complaining about taxes, talking about big purchases like a house/vacation is such a common thing that people do.

            It is understandable it stings for OP based on their situation but it seems if OP made more or friend made less money it would not be an issue.

            1. Lea*

              Yeah talking about vacations and layoffs are totally reasonable friend
              Topics op is just so burnt out on the money stuff they’re resentful of all of it, or at least that’s my read.

              Maybe op could say they are actually extremely stressed about money and would rather not talk about it

              1. Kel*

                I think that it’s totally normal for sure, but OP has said that the friend often does it in a way of ‘i’m struggling like everyone else is!’

            2. Allonge*

              Yes, this. Even more importantly, OP has been maintaining the friendship and wants to do that for the future, too. I don’t see the point in telling them that this friend is just a jerk, dump them, when we know only a small slice of their relationship.

            3. amoeba*

              Huh. Maybe it’s cultural differences! Here, telling somebody about the price of your vacation is just… not a thing. I really have a hard time coming up with a scenario in which I’d be tempted to mention it! Unless obviously somebody asks because they’re interested in going to the same place or something. But otherwise, nah. Don’t think I’ve ever heard from or told anybody about that in my life, not because it’s a secret or anything, just because it’s… irrelevant?

        1. boof*

          I can conjecture charitable and uncharitable reasons why one might throw around numbers; bragging, anxiety about expenses (I’m just going to say from personal experience anxiety is a thing that has no logic and just tends to move the goal posts no matter how much money and savings I have), plain old “I find this interesting so assume everyone else does too” – but LW has every right to push back on hearing about it if it bothers them. If friend takes it badly well, maybe they’re no longer a great friend. Not sure what LW and friend are currently getting out of the relationship or want to get out of the relationship.

        2. Beth*

          Yeah, my read here was not that OP wants their friend to stop being like “I just got back from a week in the Alps, it was gorgeous, do you want to see pictures?” They just want their friend to stop being like “I just got back from a week in the Alps, first class tickets cost $5k, can you believe it?? And then the rental house was another $3k, and the rental car was expensive too but I really thought we needed an SUV, it is the mountains after all. And food and drink were so much. My kids love these trips but everything is so expensive, geez, I might have to hold off on buying that second house after this.”

          1. Anonychick*

            Yes! This was exactly the feeling I got, as well: that it isn’t the financial differencs themselves that are upsetting OP, but how their friend falsely equates them (“lobster prices have increased so much!” =/= “I struggle to afford groceries”).

  10. Ellis Bell*

    I agree with Alison that there’s a lot of stuff the letter writer can take directly from their own letter. Just say the things. Things like “Well, actually, that’s about the same as what I make in a year” There’s nothing rude there, and it’s helpful information. Possible softeners, if needed, are precede the facts with: “If it makes you feel any better…” or “”If you want another perspective” or “If you want the x industry perspective, that would be considered enough for y”

  11. Chattydelle*

    we had the same situation with dear friends, they were pushing us to buy a camper to go camping with them when I was on a payment plan to pay for the birth of our daughter. I wish I had a solution, ours only resolved when the wife said “if they wanted a camper, they would have gotten one”, which (as I said) wasn’t the issue, but at least stopped the conversation. OP, I think for your sanity you should address this as Alison suggests, in hopes of salvaging a long time friendship.

  12. TeaCoziesRUs*

    Just to add, think about what you will do if he offers to help you out, too. I have a friend in a situation similar to yours (although subtract at least two zeros from your friend’s salary!) and came into a windfall a few years ago. Once we were in a comfortable situation with the money settled, I chose to offer her a free vacation for the two of us – which we haven’t done in over a decade. I’ve also played Santa for her kids, and helped her out financially when I could. It hurts her pride to ask, but I try to help her whenever she asks and proactively ask what Santa can bring.

    If your friend is a decent human being, I would hope that he would offer to help you out. If he does, are there areas where you could accept any financial gift? Could he play Santa or fund some family fun like a zoo membership or whatever? Maybe accept a zero interest loan with a reasonable payback, if you can’t tolerate a gift, to pay off credit cards with an exorbitant interest rate, etc.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I’m really unsure of how OP being transparent about her finances with a friend will automatically lead to gifts?! I have a public servant’s salary, it’s a matter of record that I earn much less than a private sector professional, and I know a lot of high earners. Never has any real talk about money with my friends led to being gifted holidays and help… I would probably be offended if it did!

      1. Sally Sparrow*

        People like to help. I make more than a friend of mine; I’m not rolling in cash but I live comfortably while my friend is more paycheck to paycheck. I can’t make a gift as large as a paid vacation but, when I invite her to the movies or some other paid event, I usually pay her way. It’s only $20 here or there to me but that’s vital gas money or some other expense for her. She’s not been offended or tried to pay me back with cash. Jumping to offense seems extreme when people willingly extend a helping hand to friends and family.

        1. doreen*

          Depends on the situation – I’d be kind of offended if a friend was always trying to pay for me because although I have friends who earn more than my household income and who are wealthier than I am , it doesn’t mean I can’t manage a movie ticket or a vacation. It just means I don’t have multiple millions in assets and $250K a year income – which would be still be true if I had $1 million in assets and my income was $100K.

          1. Lea*

            I wouldn’t want to be paid for all the time but sometimes it’s fun to pick up the tab for someone!

            So you could do it sometimes not always as a treat, even if you make up reasons (congrats on your promotion/kid in college/whatever)

          2. Roland*

            It’s fine if you don’t want friends to chip in but TeaCoziesRUs was talking to the OP and Sally Sparrow was discussing a friend who is paycheck to paycheck. It’s also fine if they would not want to accept financial help but the fact that you personally don’t need it is not relevant.

            1. doreen*

              I didn’t mean the fact that I don’t personally need it was relevant ( and those numbers were examples, not the real numbers) but in response to Elis Bell, Sally Sparrow said jumping to offense seems extreme – and I think that depends on the situation.

        2. There You Are*

          I have friends whose pride won’t let them go with me to, say, the local Ren Faire because they can’t afford it on their own and they won’t let me pay for the tickets and hand them “eat, drink, and tip” money. (As in, “Here’s your share of the money; do with it as you will, including spending almost none of it and saving it for later.” A gift doesn’t come with strings).

          Which means neither of us gets to have a fun day at the Ren Faire, because going alone sucks (for me, at least).

          Like, it would be a *huge* gift from them to me if they would go with me. I wish I could get them to realize this.

          1. TeaCoziesRUs*


            When it comes to the vacation, I was in a place where I DESPERATELY wanted some friend-time with a woman I’ve loved for 20 years. If that meant the only way to drag her away from her hubby and kids, and me from my hubby and kids, was to spend hotel and air miles… I was spending them! I wouldn’t have gone on that vacation solo, and I’m so glad she came with me!

            1. Ellis Bell*

              I think paying for the person’s company is the kind of detail which makes all the difference. A friend saying “Hey, I know doing penthouse weekends is silly money, but I am super into it and want you to come. Please?” It can land differently if you come at it thinking the poorer person needs help, rather than you need the company.

      2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        I wouldn’t say that it would automatically lead to gifts, but I think it’s a pretty normal human impulse to want to be able to help out if one can. If LW hasn’t been transparent about their finances before, and starts doing so, I wouldn’t be *surprised* if Rich Friend offered assistance. While I wouldn’t recommend that LW expect to be offered money, I do think it’s worth at least a little bit of thought as to whether they would take something if it were offered, and under what circumstances.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        It really depends on the relationship and the need. If I invite a friend with a tight budget out for dinner, I let them know I’ll pick up the bill. I’ve given friends no-interest loans for divorce lawyers or to pay off credit cards. My current roommate was an acquaintance I let crash on my couch for a few weeks, and it worked out so well that I added them to the lease.

        On the other hand, I have friends who make less money than me who are still financially comfortable and don’t need help; I wouldn’t try to randomly give them money they haven’t asked for.

        1. KateM*

          A bunch of my extended family (something like five or six different family units) was once on destination party, sharing a house (which the birthday kid paid for, as he was the one who invited, after all), and the way they did meals was taking turns, each unit organizing it for all party once – and it was their own choice if they brought everyone to a fancy restaurant, ordered pizza, or cooked themselves.
          In a similar way, maybe it would be possible to make friends with tight budgets feel better about themselves as well – this time one organizes X for both of us, next time the other does it, and what if one brings everybody yachting and other brings everyone to a nice hike in a nearby nature park with a picnic, tomayto tomahto?

          1. Caliente Papillon*

            This was me in dating- I dated guys who had much more money and we went on awesome dates. I in turn would cook a great meal for us, some received an item I sewed (I’m an excellent cook and seamstress), and they all loved these things. Some were even into here’s the money, you do the planning “because you always have great ideas”. Frankly, it’s easier for people to make money, than gain actual creativity and talent. Now I think about it I also dated a lovely carpenter/bartender and we had the best dates because he’d have us going to interesting places, packing sandwiches, whatever. All of these things were way more fun than, say, a visit to a tony spa it something where you have to deal with people who think they are so. amazing. Because they spend money. That does not make you amazing, people, not even a tiny bit.

        2. Starbuck*

          Totally. If you want to hang out with friends and maintain relationships with people who make less than you.. your options are choosing cheap/free activities, or paying their way for things in your budget but beyond theirs. I do this with my friends who I know make less than me, and I have higher-earning friends/family who have done the same for me. Why would you not want to treat your friends? And why would you be insulted by a gift from a friend? I just don’t get that attitude.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        If you’re making nearly a million and your friend is struggling to pay for childcare, I absolutely think you should offer. They can say no, but that’s what money is for! To buy things! To make life easier for someone you love! That 2nd house in Europe won’t make him nearly as happy as helping out a fellow human because that’s how we’re wired.

      2. kiki*

        I think if someone has a close, dear friend whom they know is struggling to keep their head above water and the wealthy friend has the amount of money it sounds like LW’s friend does, I’d look askance at them not offering something to try and help ease their burden. They’re not obligated to and they’re not necessarily a terrible person, but that’s not the way I was raised.

      3. Yikes Stripes*

        I’m sorry, but sometimes it does.

        A few years ago my 15 year old car broke down and needed a new transmission. I was entirely dependent on said car to get to work because where I live has absolutely no mass transit and even if I could have afforded a taxi or ride share option they weren’t available. I would’ve had the savings to pay for it, but the water heater in our 1976 mobile home had busted two months earlier and our savings account had been drained for that – and that was the savings of multiple years. At the urging of several friends, I put up a gofundme to cover the cost of repairs and the week’s worth of income I’d lost because I couldn’t get to work.

        I was able to get my car fixed through the generosity of many many people, including several friends who make ten times what I do. However, two friends who I had known for going on fifteen years who make a combined income in the range of 350k annually, didn’t give me a single dime. Not only that, but they never asked how I was doing or feeling about the situation – they did, however, express hurt that I hadn’t been commenting on their social media posts about their lush as hell trip to Tokyo Disneyland a couple of weeks later.

        And I’m sorry, that did make them not decent humans and it did end the friendship, which had been solid and strong up to that point. I had never begrudged them their finances or their trips or gorgeous home and designer furniture, and if they’d just asked how I was feeling I probably could’ve just sucked it up and dealt, but the combination of all of that was just too much. I haven’t spoken to them since, and several of our mutual friends pulled back from them at the same time.

    2. BoratVoiceMyWife*

      OP here. To be clear, we’re getting by and my child doesn’t want for anything. We’re not at the point of needing to borrow $200 for a zoo membership or to cover a bill, and I wouldn’t ask nor accept a loan from him unless it was absolutely life-or-death (knock on wood).

      Part of the dynamic is also that the way he talks about money is as if HE is also struggling, so the thought of offering to help out is absolutely out of his realm of thinking even if I’d accept it.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        That last bit is rough.

        My mom had a grand-boss for YEARS who would make complaints like, “Well, no one else here lost a million dollars in stocks today,” or complain about how expensive the vacations that he was funding for his (adult! well-employed!) children were. That situation was of course challenging because of the power dynamics, but in some ways it can be harder when you actually value the relationship.

      2. kiki*

        Part of the dynamic is also that the way he talks about money is as if HE is also struggling

        Ohhhh, that’s super annoying.

      3. Kali*

        Can you just institute a moratorium on complaining about money? Like, “Hey, I really value our friendship, but I think complaining about our financial difficulties, especially when we are in such different places, really makes it hard for us to connect. Can we put a stop to that sort of talk? I’m afraid it’ll just divide us when I’d really love to talk with you about [shared hobby, shared history, shared culture] stuff instead.”

      4. Silver Robin*

        Lifestyle inflation is a hell of a drug. Have you ever read The Bonfire of the Vanities? One of the characters has a moment stressing about the family finances and lists things like “$1mil for the five year old’s birthday party” and window curtains that cost like $36 a yard or something absurd. But the man is stressed because all of those expenses feel required to keep up with the lifestyle.

        This is not a justification, the character is not meant to be sympathized with and your friend needs a reality check. I only bring it up to mention how entangled folks can get in it without realizing just how okay everything actually is for them.

        1. boof*

          I feel this – my mom’s side of the family fled Ukraine the last time it was invaded, and she grew up poor, and was constantly stressed about money even though actually we were pretty well off by the end of her life. But she was still stressed about mortgage, bigger expenses she was considering, etc. And now I find I constantly stress about money and it doesn’t quite seem to matter how much I make (and now I would say I am in the upper 10%; as a grad student certainly I made 10x less but the level of anxiety is somehow worse now), my anxiety just moves the goalposts. So NGL now I stress about saving enough for retirement (even though I am already saving like 20% of my paycheck), and what if I want to put solar on the roof in 5 years, even while being aware these are luxuries anxiety brain keeps trying to assign them as “omg urgent need!” and I have to periodically reality check myself. — I really don’t know if this is friend’s problem and I think I have the sense to know plenty of other people work just as hard or harder than me and don’t make nearly the same amount of money but it takes a conscious effort on my part to do this. Partly by remembering how stressed my mom was about money but then died suddenly/unexpectedly with plenty of money saved.

      5. MigraineMonth*

        I was trick-or-treating with my nephew this year, and I asked how excited he was about getting more candy. He shrugged, raised his bag, and said, “I think I have enough.”

        I wanted to grab him and say, “That! That right there is one of the secrets to happiness! Don’t lose it.”

        1. Part time lab tech*

          Tell your nephew! You’ve caught him thinking something great and healthy. (If you haven’t already emphasised how wonderful it was, even if it was a month ago.)

      6. Hannah Lee*

        “Part of the dynamic is also that the way he talks about money is as if HE is also struggling, so the thought of offering to help out is absolutely out of his realm of thinking even if I’d accept it.”

        Oh, boy. That does make it tougher. He’s like preemptive taking up the needy, struggling position which can drown out anyone else’s woes.

        I’ve got a friend who is like that, not about money, but about general life stuff. He’s always – busy, stressed, up against it, got the most dramatic drama, insurmountable etc etc- no matter the season, the situation, the day. I joke with my sister about him either always trying to sound so overwhelmed that no one ever asks him for anything or him never being able to dance off stage and let someone else be the center of attention for friends’ commiseration, emotional support, etc.

        The sad part about that is that even if he did it initially as a defense against people asking him for help, or as a way to remain the center of attention, over *years* it’s become baked into his personality – he’s actually become more stressed, and less capable and resilient. Meanwhile the rest of the friend group just keeps keeping on, bit by bit dealing with what life throws us and leaning on each other.

        The emotional/stress analogy doesn’t quite work, though, because him *thinking* he’s struggling doesn’t make his high paying job or his savings disappear, it just makes him less satisfied with what he’s got, and likely with a more entitled attitude towards what he THINKS he deserves. (and likely with that resentment of poorer people who are actually struggling because of, if he follows a not too uncommon path of the upwardly mobile newly or oldly rich, he’ll frame their financial misfortune as being due to their choices, their unwillingness to work and their reliance on things that take money out of his pocket, their unworthiness).

        But it does have a similar effect of likely sucking up all the air you might use to vent about some of what is going on with you, not that you’re looking for help, but you might be looking for interest in, compassion and emotional support for the challenges present in your life, which is normal in healthy give and take relationships.

      7. TeaCoziesRUs*

        Hey, OP! I’m sorry that what I’m saying rubbed the wrong way. I didn’t mean to diminish you in any way.

        What I was attempting to say, and fumbling, is that if your friend has a good heart but is… ummm… blissfully unaware of how different your financial situations are, he might jump to offering gifts, particularly if he is already generous. By nature, I’m pretty generous, but also very in my own bubble until my friend talks about going to the food bank. Then I feel like an ass and WANT to help her because we can afford it and she’s my friend. I like pampering my friends.

        Therefore, assuming a good heart and open hand with those he has valued for decades, are there ways in which he COULD help, if he asks to help? If you can think of some ideas ahead of time, you wouldn’t be blindsided if he actually DOES ask. :)

        But also… my friend, who I do adore, is probably the last person I would grouse about money issues to. She’d just smack me upside the head for being an idiot. I have other friends and family to talk stock markets or investments or whatever.

    3. Beth*

      I would not expect a friend to offer me money just because they have it and I don’t. This kind of caregiving is something my parents or grandparents might do. The most assistance I’d expect from a friend is sharing a ride to somewhere they’re already going, or making dinner plans at a less fancy restaurant than they’d ideally like because we need to work within my budget. (A very good friend who specifically wants me to join them for an expensive might offer to pay more than their half to make it possible for me to join, but that’s not an offer to help me out so much as them facilitating the experience they want to have.)

  13. Suggestions*

    I’ve had to address tone-deaf people. Don’t feel like doing a long intro right now…


    -“I don’t want to hear about your tax difficulties. I am not the audience for that.”

    -“Can we talk about things not related to money? I know we used to, but I am changing the narrative for me. I don’t want to do that anymore. I am allowed to change my mind.”

    Setting this boundary that money is no longer is topic of discussion may feel very fraught, do it anyway. It may even mean that your friendship may end. (I doubt it.)

    I hope the comments don’t jump to catastrophizing.

    1. Pescadero*

      …and make sure if you set that boundary it is “we don’t talk about money”, not “You don’t talk about money, but I can”.

    2. Stuart Foote*

      I would be extremely annoyed and hurt if anyone used either of those suggestions. Alison’s suggested phrasing explains the problems without being weirdly confrontational

      1. Despachito*

        Me too.

        I think the suggestions are too harsh, and that a long-term friend deserves a softer wording. (Can we please stop talking money? It makes me feel awful because at the moment I am just making ends meet. I am glad that you are well off but I am not able to relate anymore when you say you lost a bonus worth my years’s salary.)

      2. Hannah Lee*

        I’ve used the “I’m not the right audience for that” with close friends and family before. If said calmly and with compassion towards whatever they were trying to share, it can work.

        It’s like “I value you and our relationship. You absolutely should be able to vent what you’re venting, but I just can’t bear it. In order to avoid a thing that will be painful, fraught – even for a moment – lets avoid this one thing.” (think about someone complaining to me how their mom was being annoying, too soon (for me to bear) after my mom passed away.

        1. Despachito*

          For me, the harsh part was not the “right audience” thing but rather the curt “I do not want to talk about this” with nothing else, and “I am allowed to change my mind”. THey do not convey what you said in your second paragraph and which I think is essential to convey.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        The trick to keeping things light is to follow it with a topic switch. Better yet, focus on a different aspect of the same topic. If he’s talking about how much the ski trip in the Swiss Alps cost, say you don’t want to talk money but want to know how the slopes were.

        On the receiving end, it’s the difference between a conversational train derailment and switching tracks.

    3. Overit*

      OP — why are you hanging onto this friendship?
      -Is it even a friendship any more?
      -What do you gain from your interactions?
      -Do you feel heard by him about your life?
      -Do you feel happy/content/listened to after interacting?
      -If you were able to get him to stop talking about money and money funded lifestyle options, what would be left?
      -What would you lose if he were no longer in your life except for occasional cursory interactions?

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yeah I am wondering the same. Is it just because it’s been 25 years? Many of my old friendships with people I’d known since school or college have ended or slowly phased out (with both sides initiating), because we simply developed into different people over the years. This friend sounds exhausting and like someone I would downgrade to the “one holiday card a year” group.

      2. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

        This seems like a stretch. OP only listed their money related problems because that’s the issue at question. There’s nothing to indicate that’s the only basis for their relationship or that they never talk about anything else, or that the friend has no good qualities. They’re just not pertinent to the question, which is predicated on the friend being a close friend.

        If they can work through this problem, it can actually be a good thing for people of different wealth statuses to remain friends. It’s rare because those worlds don’t often intersect in the first place and because these relationships are strained by the financial differences, but especially for the richer friend, it’s worth trying to preserve relationships that don’t all fit within their insular bubble of other rich people.

    4. EA*

      These scripts are so harsh. Saying “I am allowed to change my mind” is a weird and combative phrase to use with a good friend!

      1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

        It really is. That’s the sort of followup if someone keeps hassling you and insisting you were okay with something beforehand.

    5. Blueberry Coffee*

      I feel like your friend’s response when you bring this up is going to tell you everything you need to know. A friend who hears you and course-corrects is very different from a friend who feels attacked by not being able to discuss their wealth every time it pops into their head.

      1. Allonge*

        That’s fair, as far as that goes, but if OP never signalled that this was an issue before, these suggestions are still quite harsh (at least for the friendships I have).

        This is good for a final warning, or to an in-law you barely tolerate. With actual friends, it’s worth it to spell out what the issue is.

        1. Blueberry Coffee*

          I mean, that’s the good thing about an internet script offered by a random stranger! You get to adjust it to your circumstances and your friends, since you’re the expert on those issues.

    6. SnackAttack*

      These seem more like a stage 2 or 3 conversation, after you’ve had the more gentle talk that Allison suggested. OP doesn’t indicate that they want to sever this friendship, and when that’s the case, it’s really best to start by speaking more from your heart than from frustration.

    7. Suggestions*

      Looking at the comments, I should add these are not verbatim scripts. Use what specifically applies to you and do sprinkle in language that is appropriate your relationship. I thought that was understood.

      1. al*

        In the future, if you wish for your scripts to be understood as not be taken verbatim, you should leave off the double quote marks. “This type of punctuation” indicates exact words.

  14. Silver Robin*

    I am a big proponent of being transparent about finances, mostly because people constantly make assumptions based on aesthetics and have no idea what is actually going on for anyone. This makes it hard to have real conversations around wealth, who has it, how it moves through society, etc.

    That said, your friend desperately needs a reality check and a lesson on appropriate audiences. It reminds me of the “support in, dump out” guidelines in a way. You, OP, are much closer to the center of “financial distress” and your friend is cruising. If your friend has financial irritations, those should go “out” toward folks in a similar (or better) situation than them, not to you.

    As for more positive news or musings on purchases, that genuinely can go either way depending on the person. You, however, do not want to hear it, so you do not have to! If your friend cannot find other people to talk about house hunting or “summering” in Europe with, that speaks to their dearth of relationships and has nothing to do with you.

    Finally, you mention your friend being surprised that your finances are not the same. I know that is obvious to you, but it truly may not be obvious to your friend. Being in a different industry can really change financial expectations and approaches; I know I learn stuff about how money works for my friends at their jobs all the time and it can be massively different (even if we are making similar amounts at the moment). If you think the curiosity or surprise is genuine and not veiled condescension, this could be a good opportunity to sit down and talk it through with your friend. Help them understand. You are not required to! But you could, and it could help your friend. I know I have appreciated the folks who explained what their lives looked like to me when I had no reasonable reference point.

    Best of luck in adjusting the content of your conversations! There will almost certainly be a bit of an awkward period while you both adjust to the new normal, but that will pass!

    1. Silver Robin*

      rereading the post and some of the comments, sounds like friend is not actually all that open to learning. Cannot hurt to try one more time to have a big, clear conversation about the realities, but you might just have to use some of the other tactics above to train your friend not to talk finances with you.

  15. Michelle Smith*

    Sometimes too, a change in life circumstances like this can cause people to grow apart and that’s something you may need to come to terms with. Someone can have been important to you for a long time for really good reasons, but because of changed circumstances, the relationship no longer makes sense to continue in its current form. It might mean that you guys become more distant acquaintances or even stop talking altogether.

    It really, really bothers me that you say “He also takes any form of pushback or criticism incredibly poorly.” That’s not healthy in any kind of relationship, including a friendship. You have to be able to say “Hey, this thing you do is really sticking in my craw. Please stop.” without being afraid it will cause the other person to blow up the relationship. I did that one time with a person who acted like she understood why I was upset at her always backing out of things she promised to do at the last minute, but she actually stopped talking to me immediately after that conversation. It still hurts, but I’m glad I know now where I stand and I’ve chosen to invest my energy in other relationships instead. I tell my best friend “please stop doing X” (“X” being interrupting me or offering unsolicited advice) and she apologies and changes course without being defensive or angry about it. And I do the same when she addresses something with me. That’s how healthy relationships work – they’re based on mutual respect and consideration for the other person. A person who is actually your friend is going to want to know that they’re hurting you so that they can stop doing that!!

    I think you should have the conversation you want to have, but don’t expect that there is a magic script that’s going to make this person understand your perspective and change their behavior. Either they value the friendship enough to stop hurting you when you ask them to, no matter how eloquently or unartfully you say word it, or they don’t value it enough to change and you should be prepared to take the steps back from the friendship that you need to take in order to preserve your mental health.

    1. Kes*

      Yeah, that stood out to me as well. Alison’s script is totally reasonable but if he’s not able to take criticism he may not take it take it well regardless of what OP says and how they say it. It’s understandable that OP wants to preserve their longstanding friendship and it’s worth the attempt to make him understand that he is damaging the relationship, but ultimately if it does prove that he’s not willing to listen, at some point OP may have to consider whether it’s worth continuing the relationship if it is only on his terms (and just because a friendship has been going on for a long time doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great friendship; that’s sunk cost fallacy).

  16. Hiring Mgr*

    I think the advice here is dead on – this is a longtime friend of 25 years with whom you should be able to discuss these things.

    Most likely he’s being tone deaf, not purposely obnoxious, so if you just lay it out like you did here there’s a good chance it goes well.

    1. Uranus Wars*

      I agree with this. I think if for 20 of the 25 years of their friendship they talked freely about money without it being an issue he may just be tone deaf…or OP may be his sounding board/comfort zone but now that financial gap is such that it’s not appropriate anymore. I would HOPE that an honest conversation about that change could happen and while it might be clunky at first it might be a step in saving what sounds like a meaningful friendship the OP doesn’t want to lose.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yup. I friend is not a friend if you cannot say “Money has become a sore point with me so please stop it with the money talk.” You might have to add, “I am not asking you to solve any problems for me, so no financial advice, please.” If the friend cannot do that, then you may have to downgrade the friendship. Some friendships have an expiration date because they were formed over common bonds that no longer exist. If it’s a deep friendship, it can survive a blunt conversation.

  17. fine tipped pen aficionado*

    I’m trying to parse the degree of friendship because if I had that kind of money, all my friends and family would be rolling in gifts and vacationing with me on my dime. Hell, I don’t have that kind of money and I still pay for meals and hotel rooms as often as I can without taking on debt. I have taken on debt before to pay for friends’ MRIs and emergency vehicle repairs. I have in fact floated an acquaintance I didn’t even really like $2k with the full expectation it wouldn’t be paid back because I knew there wasn’t a single other person in their life who could help them.

    An acquaintance I might not be quite as generous with, so I wonder if that’s the nature of this relationship? Or maybe this person just kind of sucks? Based on the info shared it really seems like they view LW as an acquaintance, not a friend. The vibe I get is they probably get some kind of glow of success being able to compare where they are with where LW is given they started from the same place. But that’s pure speculation and this could simply be wildly self-centered, thoughtless and out of touch.

    I guess think carefully about if this relationship is still a good fit for your life? If it’s an acquaintance I can’t imagine it being worth the trouble. If it’s a friend it doesn’t sound like a good one.

    1. Despachito*

      That is very generous of you, but please think that this is not an universal recipe. Some people (me included) would not feel good to let a richer friend always foot the tab. I would definitely not want that, it would feel patronizing.

      1. Chris*

        As someone who works with people who are at a very different stage of their financial lives than I am, this is something I try to be mindful of. Even if it’s coming from a place of genuine generosity, it can still come across as flaunting,

        1. Despachito*

          Thank you!

          Having grown up dirt poor but extremely proud (which is sometimes too much but not easy to get rid of), this is something I must always remind myself of. I am much better off now, and tend to foot the tab more often than not for friends who I know are struggling, and I am never sure how much of my own insecurities go into this. I am happy I can do this but must watch myself to not turn this into sort of a power trip.

        2. Despachito*

          I would also like to add that I was once in a remotely similar situation – we went for a holiday with a couple of friends, and would alternate cooking (there was a kitchen) with going to pubs. After a few days our friends told us if we could tone down the eating out because it was out of their budget. I was ashamed because I did not realize that before. I was happy to stick to the home cooking because that way all of us could participate on the same level.

    2. doreen*

      I’m trying to parse the degree of friendship because if I had that kind of money, all my friends and family would be rolling in gifts and vacationing with me on my dime. Not saying you wouldn’t do this – but you wouldn’t do it if I was your friend, because I wouldn’t accept gifts and vacations. Lots of people don’t feel comfortable if they can’t reciprocate in some way and while I would absolutely accept help from a wealthy friend if I couldn’t pay the rent/buy food/get my car repaired , I wouldn’t let them pay for optional things like vacations or even dinner every time.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        You can reciprocate in a non-financial way though. That ought to be how it works – if I am rich in literal dollars, I use those dollars to make your life better or take us on a vacation. If you are rich in a skill, you use that to reciprocate. Maybe in exchange you cook dinners on the vacation or baby sit or repair my banister.

        1. doreen*

          Sure , you can reciprocate in a non-financial way like you pay for dinner this time and I cook dinner next time. Or you pay for dinner and I help you move. But having a friend pay to take me on vacation and me reciprocating by babysitting seems too unbalanced for me to feel comfortable being the babysitter.

          1. Despachito*

            Yes, this.

            This would absolutely grate me the wrong way, because I would be doing things I hate in exchange of things I do not need. I do not want or need an expensive vacation I can’t afford myself, so this alone would feel awful for me. It would feel unbalanced not to reciprocate, and if I reciprocated by babysitting I’d feel humiliated, somewhat like a servant.

            (I am not talking about a situation when I am truly in need, and the friend’s help would be essential for me not to end on the street or be starving. In such a case it would be a question of survival and all pride would have to be put aside).

      2. FourOfCups*

        I genuinely don’t understand this view. Why is there pride in not accepting gifts from others? It’s especially odd to me because wealthy people do it all the time. Think of all the politicians who fight against welfare but accept millions from government programs for their businesses. I like helping others, and I’ll never turn down help. We live in a society, it’s beautiful when people share their wealth.

        1. doreen*

          It’s not exactly pride in not accepting gifts from others, at least not in my case. It’s that it doesn’t always feel like a gift – sometimes it feels like charity and a lot of that depends on exactly how it’s done. My rich friend throwing herself a weeklong birthday party where she flies everyone to a resort and pays for the whole thing is still “my friend is throwing a party and paying for her guests” , it’s just a more expensive party than the one someone else has at a restaurant. My friend paying for just me all the time feels more like a bunch of us are going on vacation- but she’s only paying for me. Because everyone else can afford it – and everybody knows that I can’t. I would have to accept feeling that way if I needed help to survive- but I not for a vacation or a movie.

        2. Willow Pillow*

          Hyper-independence, or not asking for help, is a common trauma response – if you grew up never getting help when you needed it, for instance, it’s easy to carry that expectation (or lack thereof) with you.

          1. Despachito*

            But in this case, OP does not need help. She is able to make ends meet, just feels she isn’t able to relate with financial problems of someone who is several times richer than herself.

            There is a HUGE difference between accepting help from a friend when you are in true need (something unexpected happened), and accepting things on an ongoing basis that would be wildly outside your budget.

            If my rich friend gave me, say, a designer bag or invited me to an expensive restaurant for my important birthday, I’d be fine – it would be an one-off thing for a special occasion. If she kept inviting me to expensive restaurants I couldn’t afford and kept paying for me each time I would feel like someone devoid of agency, a recipient of charity, and I would not feel at ease. I would much rather go with her to a cheaper restaurant I can afford, and pay my own way.

            1. anon for this one*

              I say this with all the respect in the world, but feeling “like someone devoid of agency, a recipient of charity, and [not feeling] at ease” is not exactly a healthy reaction to that scenario.

              I really do understand – I grew up in the worst kind of grinding poverty. My mother wouldn’t accept governmental help or use food banks because then everyone would know we were poor – and that meant that I was hungry a lot of the time and have lifelong health issues from not seeing a doctor when I was young and things like scoliosis could be addressed. The only time she ever “stooped to accept charity” was allowing a friend to buy me one Christmas present every year valued at no more than $25, and even that cost her dearly in pride.

              At this point in my life, I have a friend who has a lot more money than I do who is obsessed with baseball. She loves it enough that she has season tickets to our local major league team – and when I say “she has tickets” I mean that one of them is mine, even though she pays for it. I’m her only friend who also loves the sport, and it took a very long time for her to talk me into letting her pay for me to go to even one or two games a year – but eventually I realized that she was genuine when she said that having someone else there to enjoy the game with made the whole experience so much better for her. My mother finds this to be horrifying and after multiple arguments about it I had to put firm boundaries in place.

              It took almost a decade of therapy for me to get it through my head that that kind of pride is extremely harmful to both yourself and your relationships, and also that relationships aren’t transactional. I don’t owe my friend anything for my baseball tickets, because it is a gift freely given that brings her joy. When I drop by her house with a batch of her favorite cookies, it’s not to repay her for anything, it’s because I know she loves them and giving them to her brings me joy.

              Your comments on this post are making me sad, for the same reason that my mom’s sabotaging herself and my childhood does. I hope you can move past this someday.

              1. Despachito*

                I can see where you are coming from, and I am sorry you had this experience.

                However, I think there is a significant difference. It is very likely that “poor” has a different meaning for each of us.

                In your scenario, “poor” meant “severely lacking and suffering”. For me, being poor never meant not to be able to afford basic food or to lack the necessary medical help. Perhaps I was much better off than I think but I never lacked the bare necessities. My “level of poor” was having to decide if a parent would buy new winter shoes (when their only ones were falling apart) or a new winter coat for me. It was having a car but not enough gas money so we could only afford to travel if strictly necessary. It was being unable to go to a wedding because we could not afford the travel AND the wedding gift.

                It was enough for me to set a goal to never let this happen when I am an adult, but it was still doable without suffering a serious damage (as you described it was your case). You are definitely right that it does leave a psychological dent that will possibly never disappear for good. I think I would accept the baseball tickets though because there are no strings attached and I would know it is a joy for the friend. And I think I would swallow my pride if my kid was suffering as well.

        3. allathian*

          Many people don’t like to be in debt, even to people they know can afford to lose it.

          When I was dating, I never even let a guy buy a cup of coffee for me unless and until we were exclusive because I didn’t want to encourage any “expectations.”

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      I think there are many variables. A lot of people wouldn’t like to be “rolling in gifts and vacationing on somebody else’s dime” and even if the LW wouldn’t mind, it’s possible the friend believes they would. I have a friend who pretty much nicely told me I was overdoing it because I sent them maybe three or four gifts a year (all around the €20 mark), for Christmas, their birthday and often once or twice more, say when they graduated or got a new job or maybe chocolates at Easter, that sort of thing.

      Offering people gifts and money they can’t repay is often rather fraught (this wasn’t the issue with my friend, we are in a similar income bracket. She just felt it a bit more than she expected). This is exacerbated when the two people are in very different income brackets such as the LW and their friend and even more so when they are “peers.”

      There could also be cultural differences at play here, as we don’t know the country the LW and their friend come from and different cultures have vastly different attitudes to money. Plus the friend just seems really out of touch and unaware that what they are earning is a lot. They don’t seem aware that the LW is earning so much less than them or that they are well-paid.

      I do agree they appear self-centred, thoughtless and out-of-touch and actually…somewhat superior? The “advice” they are giving is not only out of touch but also seems…almost victim-blamey, like they think the LW must have done something wrong to be earning an average wage, when in reality, most people do

    4. LunaLena*

      My guess is that, since the LW and their friend started out at similar levels in life, the friend is used to assuming that LW is at a similar place as them and therefore isn’t financially struggling. It doesn’t sound like they live in the same physical location, so it’s not like the friend comes over often and sees firsthand how LW is living.

    5. new post, same name*

      “The vibe I get is they probably get some kind of glow of success being able to compare where they are with where LW is given they started from the same place.”

      That’s kind of my thought. Some people keep old friends from back in the day around because they genuinely care about them and/or they keep them grounded. Other keep them around as a measuring stick to chart their success. I had a childhood friend some years back who did this with me. Our lives and trajectories were very similar. She would ask me probing questions about finances, work, etc. but never share the same info about herself. It became pretty clear what she was going, you could almost see the wheels turning as she calculated who was “ahead” in any given area. It was tiresome. It wasn’t until I distanced myself from her (for different reasons) that I realized how toxic to me she was. I hope that OP doesn’t mistake longevity of a friendship for loyalty in a friendship.

    6. kina lillet*

      This kind of thing is so exquisitely sensitive to culture AND class AND a million things that it’s tough to say “this doesn’t sound like a very good friend.”

      LW noted that this is a dear friend, for one thing. And for another, they’re reluctant to really emphasize the economic disparity.

      What this says to me is that LW & friend belong to (or grew up in) a milieu where it’s respectful to assume that someone else is doing OK. And, that it feels like a sign of disrespect for someone to assume (or know!) that you’re not doing OK financially and not able to handle it within your family sphere.

      Obviously this can have its downsides (this letter for example!) but it’s pretty common and needless to say a real friendship can exist within it.

    7. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

      There are pretty strong taboos against doing that sort of thing, at least more than sparingly. It’s like all those “Why didn’t Harry just buy Ron all the stuff he couldn’t afford?” comments (which to be fair usually come from kids). It’s not super socially acceptable to be like “I’ll just foot the bill for everything!” Except maybe in a circumstance of one person winning the lottery who didn’t grow up rich and doesn’t have a work/social circle of other high earners.

      You can do the occasional splurge gift as a rich person, and certainly in a friend’s emergency you should offer to help. But anything less finessed than that is a recipe for resentment, awkwardness, and bad feelings.

  18. workfromhomemom*

    My husband and I both worked for a company owned by a large and very wealthy family. The son ran our local office. Nice guy but… he knew we liked to spend time in the local mountains, for example, and once as a conversation starter asked if we’d ever stayed at X Hotel, which is literally more than $2,000 a night. Um, no, we haven’t (eye roll). His attempts to connect with workers just emphasized the divide.

  19. Seashell*

    If this guy isn’t a total jerk, he would stop this if you responded to his suggestion to invest with “With what money?”. If you’re thinking these things about a long-time friend, say it to him. Surely, you can make your point with a joke.

    1. BoratVoiceMyWife*

      OP here. He does back down when I reach breaking point and respond this way, like one time when he was shocked that I wasn’t contributing to a 401K because every dollar in my paycheck is better to have available now than to be sitting in a retirement fund untouchable. I’ll get a “haha fair enough” and that’ll put an end to the topic for a while.

      1. Roland*

        To me that makes it sound like a bigger-picture conversation is a good idea that might work. Like a lot of the letters that Alison answers about employees who take specific feedback well but don’t fix the patterns unless the managers call those patterns out and make it clear it’s a serious performance issue – obviously you are not his boss but you are the boss of remaining his friend and it sounds like he hasn’t put the pattern together yet. It might not work, but I hope it does. Good luck!

  20. Lacey*

    My, admittedly limited, experience with people who make a ton of money is that they’re super oblivious about the ease it provides them.

    You will have to spell this out for him. He won’t totally get it even if he does tone things down for the sake of the friendship.

    It’s also possible he’ll be angry about it. Some people in my friend group had a falling out bc a guy who used to be dirt poor has made it big & loves to talk about it. Well, no one else has made it big & they told him it was annoying to hear about it all the time. He just stopped talking to them entirely.

    1. Dulcinea47*

      This is interesting- in my experience people who were poor growing up are usually much more sensitive b/c they don’t forget what it’s like to not have those things. People who’ve never suffered any kind of deprivation understand it the least.

      1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        There’s such a diversity of experiences about this. In my experience, people who used to be poor and got rich are hardcore believers in the Just World Fallacy. It makes them feel like they must be good, deserving (hardworking, smart, whatever) people since their circumstances improved, versus just randomly lucky, or worse intentionally profiting at others’ expense, which they would feel bad about.

        Then they think people who don’t get ahead must not be as deserving somehow.

  21. Dulcinea47*

    Sometimes you just have to wish your wealthy friends good luck and leave it…. as I did after a privileged friend couldn’t understand that the stress of flipping houses is not the same as the stress of not being able to afford housing, like, at all.

  22. Susan Calvin*

    OP, please be honest with your friend. Yes, he’s being insensitive, but if it’s been a long established fact of your relationship that Talking About Money is not taboo, he probably feels it’s still fair game, even if your paths have diverged!

    I’m nowhere near his level of wealth (and don’t tend to give unsolicited investment advice), but my childhood best friend and I also have made some very different choices in life, which reflect our different priorities, and have lead to very different economic outcomes. As best as I know she’s at peace with that, and doesn’t feel judged or gloated at by my vacation selfies, anymore than I feel judged for being a childless woman in my 30s, when she sends me pictures of her (adorable!) children.

    I’d be devastated if I found out she was sitting on a pile of resentment about this for years, and never mentioned it!

    1. Dulcinea47*

      I have to say, vacation selfies are different than telling someone how much your vacation cost. Because everyone takes vacation pics, whether you’re camping, on a road trip, or in the most luxurious resort.
      Friends with more money also don’t tell me exactly how much they’re spending on things, and they don’t give me misguided advice when I complain about being low on funds myself. From my point of view, I wouldn’t be resenting you.

      1. doreen*

        I have to say that when you say “everyone takes vacation pics” , you sort of aren’t seeing a group of people who don’t take vacation pics because they don’t go on vacation. Everyone has blind spots – and we won’t see them until someone points them out. The LW needs to actually say something to his friend. It might not help – but it’s also not really fair to be upset about someone’s obliviousness when you haven’t said anything directly. It would be different if the LW thought the friend was doing this maliciously – but “most people don’t live like you ” is very different from ” it’s hard for me to hear you complain about ____ when I ____” no matter what it is that fills in the blanks.

        1. Kel*

          Also camping is expensive now! The start up cost + food costs + wood costs + transportation costs… it adds up quick.

  23. Amber Rose*

    *snootiest voice* It’s just a banana Friend, how much could it cost like, ten dollars?

    Just kidding. You can set a boundary that looks like “we are in very different places in our lives so we don’t talk about money to avoid conflict.”

  24. matthias_code*

    Yeah, time to be blunt. “Friend, your constant complaining about how little money you are making, despite being ridiculously rich, is pissing me off, and making me very sad. Please stop.”

    They haven’t understood it after more than a decade, hinting and implying is not going to work.

    If they are as good a friend as you hope they should immediately realize this, backpedal, and apologize. If that doesn’t happen you know that they do not really care about your situation, or how you feel.

    1. londonedit*

      Yeah, I’ve had to do some version of this with a couple of friends/acquaintances of mine. Talking about money is very much Not Done where I come from, but I’ve had to be blunt and literally say ‘Look, I earn £XXX a year, I can’t afford to do that’ to shock people into stopping the ‘But I don’t understand why you don’t just buy a flat, surely you’d be better off than renting’ and other ‘Well why don’t you just…’ lifestyle/money stuff. These people aren’t doing it maliciously; they just genuinely would never have thought that someone my age earns as little as I do. Don’t get into publishing, kids! (Joking…mostly). Hearing me actually say ‘Well, I earn £XXX, so even if I could get a mortgage I’d still need about £200k as a deposit’ takes the wind out of their sails.

  25. Timothy (TRiG)*

    The podcast / YouTube channel “The Financial Diet” did an episode on precisely this recently. I’ll put links below.

    1. Suggestions*

      Interesting. I am disappointed there hasn’t been more response to your post.

      I saw a few comments about hurting the feelings of the rich person.

  26. CLC*

    Yeah he’s going to unload a bunch of unhelpful advice on you, if you say you are not looking for advice. He’s going to start in on avocado toast and making investments with money that somehow is just supposed to appear. At least this guy is rich because he’s in a high paying industry. It’s not fair but it’s better than people I deal with who are rich because their *husbands* are in high paying industries. They’re in their 40s but if I say *anything* about money they suddenly turn into conservative boomers talking about bootstraps and telling me “debt is bad! Investments are good!” I’d just distance myself from the guy. You can still be friends but maybe just think of this growing apart.

  27. AnonInCanada*

    Talk about first world problems! I’m sorry for LW for having to put up with this friend. But Alison’s right: Maybe a few words about the disparity in their financial situations may make this friend shut up about it. Or maybe not. Which would make me, if put in LW’s shoes, question how much further this friendship should continue.

  28. Pippa K*

    “I’m not the right audience for this” is a great multi-purpose statement when we don’t want to hear something for whatever reason. Maybe it will direct the other person’s attention to something they need to notice, maybe it will lead to a conversation that needs having, maybe it will just divert the current stream to something more pleasant. But it’s a way to stem the flow of something you don’t want (or don’t have the bandwidth or patience) to hear right now.

    1. ELT*

      Totally agree. I think it’s also a way to validate that OP’s friend has real feelings related to money that are legitimate – it’s just not a topic to discuss with OP specifically.

  29. kiki*

    I know in my heart it’s not malicious and it’s entirely to do with a complete lack of understanding for how anyone outside his bubble lives, no matter how frequently I remind him that his worldview and level of opportunity is in the vast minority. He also takes any form of pushback or criticism incredibly poorly.

    I think Alison is right that it might help to make clear to the friend that LW is one of the people outside his bubble and by quite a large margin. I think a lot of people lose touch with the financial reality of others, even their close friends, when they start making more money. Especially if LW and their friend started on the same trajectory, LW’s friend may not be fully realizing how much their paths have diverged. A lot of folks who are or become rich attribute their earnings to their hard work, intelligence, talent, etc. So when they have friends they know are also hard workers, intelligent, and talented, they assume that they must also be seeing similar windfalls or can simply ask for more money/ get a new job and start making as much as they are. A lot of very wealthy people don’t consider how much of their financial success comes down to luck, circumstance, and other things that aren’t really earned.

    Right now LW’s objections to hearing their friend’s financial information may be coming across as, “this is generally obnoxious– think of how lucky you are in the scheme of things!” and not “this is personally very hard for me to hear about all the time because I am not at all close to the financial comfort you have.”

        1. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

          It’s pretty gauche to complain about luxury inconveniences around people with much less resources in any culture.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      You basically said what I said, but distilled down better. I think you’re right that friend likely thinks “we’re similar, so you should similarly be as successful as me, obviously”.

    2. BoratVoiceMyWife*

      OP here. Your last paragraph basically distills what it’s been for the past 10 years, and I know the conversation needs to now shift from “wow you poor thing” to “I cannot handle this any longer.”

  30. Busy Middle Manager*

    The owner of my garage does this! He thinks it’s fine because he frames it as “isn’t America great!” He does not grasp what normal jobs pay or what the dollar is worth, which is part of the problem. I actually talk to him every month and often end up educating him about what jobs pay, what average rent is, etc. He came here at a good time, got lucky, and does not fully grasp how rich he is. He still thinks in his home country’s currency, from what I gather when he talks. He legitimately thinks anything below 100K is low, and not in a “gross, poor people” way, he just has no clue. So alot of education is needed:-)

    That being said, alot of what you wrote unfortunately isn’t stuff to complain about IMO unless he does it in front of people or you stop being friends.

    I also live in a HCOL area and part of it is you mix with super rich people and upper middle class people and also poor people, who you have no clue how they afford to exist here. It’s part of being here!

    TBH some of the stuff he said is not horrible. Shock you can’t buy a house can be flipped around to talk about the highest ever salary vs. home price ratio. High taxes are a thing, remembering that HCOL areas also have local taxes, state taxes, and high property taxes on top of social security, medicaid, and federal taxes. There is nothing like having no life to work and then being in a total 45% or 50% tax bracket on that extra income when you add all the taxes together. On a side note, I do find that many people online don’t know how high taxes can be for many individuals. I frequent investing forums and everyone seems misinformed about taxes on upper middle class salaries, and 90% of people think the takehome is way higher than it is. You can make an ethical argument for it but also remember these people think they personally paid for all of the services so it’s natural to start nitpicking stuff in the community since you basically paid for it.

    I know people who don’t have retirement savings or an emergency fund and live paycheck to paycheck here and who also travel extensively, so that one, you need to let go.

    I do side with you in a way, I just think you should consider the above. Personally, I also get annoyed but more by people in my lower-end of upper middle class income you have such extravagant lifestyles. I desperately want the cheat code to how to do it/afford it all

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      “these people think they personally paid for all of the services so it’s natural to start nitpicking stuff in the community since you basically paid for it” Ha, no. *Everyone* pays taxes. These people are mistaken that they pay more. Poor people pay more as a percent of their income than rich people. What “these people” forget is that sales tax is a flat tax and that is definitely hitting poor people harder. As far as I’ve seen, nitpicking “things they pay for” also is exclusively used to bitch about support for people less privileged than they are.

      Also, just… the idea that “naturally” I’m going to be a complaining whiner is weird. This is a bad habit that can be stopped like any other.

      This mostly reads like a justification for rich people being oblivious to their privilege. I do appreciate you reality-checking the garage owner, but maybe he’s not the only one.

      1. Pescadero*

        “Poor people pay more as a percent of their income than rich people.”

        No, in the United States they do not.

        The lowest quintile pays about an 18% total effective tax rate when including all local/state/federal/excise taxes.

        The highest quintile pays about 30%.

        The only place you see a discontinuity is in the 1% vs. 0.1%, where the 0.1%pay a slightly lower overal effective tax rate.

        1. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

          We have marginal tax rates. Rich people aren’t getting taxed at that higher rate across their whole income, just the sliver of it above the point at which the rate increases.

      2. Busy Middle Manager*

        You are citing misinformation/bad math to warrant saying I am the one somehow justifying bad behavior. But your sort of proving the point. Instead of getting mad at said friend, we could spend five minutes researching how much money they are actually talking about.

    2. BubbleTea*

      I don’t know about the Usa but in the UK, due to sales taxes etc, the people on the lowest incomes pay a higher % of their income on taxes than all but the very richest.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        No one is talking about “percent of income.” That’s shifting the argument. I feel like there are always so many “shifting the argument” tactics when topics like this come up that ironically it doesn’t help the OP and cements the idea that people who aren’t exactly the same economically can’t be friends, which I do not agree with!

        IF you’re statement is even true, which I am going to doubt you. Are you saying rich people don’t spend their money so don’t pay sales tax? And how high is sales tax that it parallels the tax brackets rich people pay? Also do you have local taxes in places like London that add on alot of taxes for high income earners?

        1. doreen*

          The Unspeakable Queen Lisa said ” Poor people pay more as a percent of their income than rich people” . I’m not 100% certain that that is correct but the idea is not that rich people don’t spend their money so they don’t pay sales tax. It’s that rich (er) people generally spend a smaller percentage of their income on items subject to sales tax because they save/invest a higher percentage of their income than poor people and that money is not subject to sales taxes.

    3. Coverage Associate*

      The highest marginal US rate is 37%. I see California can get you above 50% total, and 9 other states in the 47% range, but of course several states have no income tax at all.

      As another benchmark, I believe the COVID-19 tax credits phased out at $400,000 for a family of 2, and OP has said the friend’s base salary is $500,000. So we’re talking in that tricky upper middle class area, according to Congress in 2020.

  31. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

    First, I hear how frustrated and annoyed you are. I imagine it would be hard to be friends with someone when your lives are so different. But I think I see some clues about how things got here.

    When you say “no matter how frequently I remind him that his worldview and level of opportunity is in the vast minority” it sounds like you’re not talking to him about yourself. It sounds like you’ve been trying to make him generally aware of his own good fortune, rather than explicitly sharing your own struggles. You also talk about him being defensive to criticism or pushback and I don’t know what that would mean if you are talking about your own circumstances. He can’t “push back” against you talking about your own life. Which also makes me think you’re not talking about you, but more like “Not everyone can afford a trip to Europe.” Hint, hint.

    I would say you’re not true friends anymore if he isn’t even aware of your life and your circumstances. Like I complain to my friends about my job or this fight I had with my hubby or this ridiculous new fee/bill/whatever. He’s still doing the complaining about his life, but it sounds like you at some point shut down and stopped sharing. There probably was a moment early on when your finances started to diverge that you could have said something and didn’t for whatever reason. Maybe you were stressed and just couldn’t deal. And then the next time, you still didn’t speak up. And now you are annoyed at him for not knowing your life when you haven’t been sharing it.

    My read on this could be totally wrong, but if you do still want him as a friend, talk to him like a friend. I would definitely start from “I want to vent, not looking for advice, just sympathy”, but tell him how it is with you. It’s reasonable for you to expect sympathy from your friend. And if you don’t get it, it may be time to let him go and see him as someone you used to be friends with a long time ago. Are you happier with him in your life?

  32. Statler von Waldorf*

    Me and my brother had a similar issue. He’s in the 1%, I am not.

    We don’t talk much anymore. He thinks I’m a loser for not getting a better job. I think he’s a loser because he works so much that he’s an absentee parent. He lives for his job. I work my job to continue to live.

    Sometimes, people drift apart, and you just need to let go. I agree with Alison that a conversation is warranted, but I’m cynical on it fixing the issue. I only suggest having the conversation so you can move on without regret.

  33. Kate*

    Alison’s advice is good. I would add, OP, tell him your actual salary. You have nothing to be ashamed of; clearly you don’t believe that money = human worth or you wouldn’t have chosen a notoriously low-paid field. He needs to hear a number because people at this level of wealth have no idea.

    1. Awkwardness*

      I am not even sure this would help. I think he might have lost the understand what can/cannot be done with 60.000
      He might have a version in his head that says everything is possible in a cheaper form, when the reality is that some things are not possible.

      1. Kel*

        Especially if his base salary is not SUPER far off from what OP is earning; it’s the extra stuff that’s really sending him upwards.

      2. BoratVoiceMyWife*

        OP here. This is basically correct — he knows full well what my salary is, but he hasn’t earned this “little” since 2013 and has absolutely no recollection of what it’s like to do so.

        1. PayRaven*

          If he’s someone who generally considers himself very financially aware, you can use this against him. I bet you he’s thought about bad interest rates and inflation in his terms; now you can explain them in yours.

  34. DrMrsC*

    I have a lot of empathy here having parted ways with a 20+ year friend last year for similar reasons. I had come to the point where after years of considering her my Best Friend, I realized that I was more comic relief or an ancillary pal that floated around her distant periphery.
    Have a conversation, but don’t be surprised if nothing changes, or the friend gets defensive. Sometimes even long friendships just naturally taper off when the only thing you have in common was a time in your live that was decades ago and you were very different people than you are now.

  35. Parenthesis Guy*

    “For this reason, we were always comfortable discussing compensation and other financial topics with each other.”

    Have you told him that? It just sounds like you’ve told him he’s rich a bunch of times. That may be true, but that’s not the same as telling him you can’t listen to him complaining about his finances anymore.

    I would be careful telling him frankly about your situation unless you want his help. Because he may not realize you’re struggling, and if he knows may want to send $10k your way or something.

  36. Kel*

    I did actually end a friendship over this. I had a friend with generational wealth; she inherited quite a bit of money when a relative died. She would CONSTANTLY complain about being broke. She lived in the nicest dorm, her schooling was paid, and she regularly went on international travel, either on her or her parent’s dime. I worked 40+ hours a week to pay for school, I lived with my parents in my childhood home and commuted to work and school. We didn’t go on family vacations, let alone me going on a trip funded by my own money.

    She could NOT comprehend that her situation and mine were different.

  37. Sloanicota*

    I’ve probably been both friends in this situation and it’s helpful to remember both that 1) you can speak up and ask for the relationship you want, and establish the boundary you need, as they may have no idea you even feel this way or how long this has been getting on your nerves. If you don’t speak up, it’s kind of crappy of you to assume they will guess how you want them to act; and 2) everybody’s wealth is relative, so when I reflect on times I felt broke or complained about money myself despite my many privileges, it gives me the empathy to handle others in similar situations.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I have been both friends as well. And because of how weirdly the pay here in the US is structured (let me just say I am a big admirer of the book Bullshit Jobs that spells it all out…) it would sometimes be people with more education, higher job titles, more talented than me that would suddenly turn out to make half of what I do. To me, the eye-opening moment was probably the guy I dated who had a law degree, had passed a bar, worked in higher ed – but he was a law librarian, so on date 4 or 5 he proudly told me what he was making and it was exactly half of my salary at the time. (Not proud of myself for it, I let out a squeal when he told me.) We really need to be cognizant of that, because we never know.

    2. Green Goose*

      Me too. I was a scholarship kid at a very expensive private middle school so most of the kids came from upper middle class all the way to WEALTHY. I saw an actual Oscar in a classmates living room once, for example.
      Because of this I had a skewed view of my own family and felt very ashamed of how poor I saw us as. Our small, rented house was a source of embarrassment to me when I visited my friends in their palacial homes.
      Well, I’ve worked with low-income students for the past decade and it really puts things into perspective. I had a consistent roof over my head in a safe neighborhood which is very different than the students I work with. I cringe just thinking of things I said and thought previously when it really wasn’t that bad, we just weren’t wealthy. That’s a difference that I think can be lost on a lot of people who claim they grew up poor but in reality they just didn’t grow up wealthy (I’m thinking specifically of celebrities who talk about growing up poor but then also have stories that contradict those statements like “I was a competitive horse rider, but we were so poor we didn’t own the horse!”)

  38. kiri*

    This is such a real thing! I don’t have this on the same level as the LW, but as we get further into adulthood, I have a number of friends who have started to earn drastically more than I do (different industries, different locations, different priorities, etc etc).

    I think part of it is just the reality of being an adult in a capitalist society, but as the lower-earning friend, it can be really tough. I won’t say my friends and I are necessarily always super open about what we earn, or the dynamics that our different incomes create in our relationships, but anytime we are able to be, it feels so refreshing.

    One thing that has been helpful is checking in with friends you know are on a similar level to you. There’s a group of four of us from college – two of us went into badly paid academic jobs, and two are in very high-income white collar careers. When we get together, my friend and I who don’t earn as much are able to check in with one another to validate each other’s feelings and choices, and when necessary support one another in speaking up to say “hey, can we find a less expensive option?” It doesn’t fully fix the problem, but it does help me feel less alone in my plight haha

    1. Sloanicota*

      It’s interesting because I think it’s important to talk about money with my peers, but I also understand why it’s a bit of a taboo to actually do so. But it’s also very interesting – many friends earning much more than me, for example, end up having less disposal income because childcare and healthcare costs can be so different, and a not-that-huge difference in the house you buy (say, because you need more bedrooms for your family) ends up compounding into a much bigger expense.

  39. Awkwardness*

    OP, I think you did a very good job in explaining your situation with a lot of good examples and clear language.
    I wonder why you did not use these words yet? Are you afraid that your friend will be angry, dismissive or insulting?
    Also, do you regularly meet in person? I am wondering if text/phone might lead to him imagining a version of your reality that does match your words/actual reality, so there is some disconnect.

    1. BoratVoiceMyWife*

      OP here. No, we live in separate parts of the country and life (as well as the aforementioned financial discrepancies) keeps us from seeing each other more than once a year or so.

  40. Boss Scaggs*

    I see why this is frustrating, but you really need to spell it out for him.

    It sounds like you’ve both been talking freely and openly about money for decades, so to him he’s just doing what you’ve both always done.

  41. Sharon*

    Have you tried telling your friend how you FEEL when he does this? If he’s a worthy friend, he won’t want to put you into uncomfortable situations. If he’s amenable to change, you can also come up with a shorthand phrase to say when he starts on an uncomfortable topic without realizing it (e.g., “money talk” or “check your audience”).

    It’s not that he’s wrong to talk about these things at all, but he shouldn’t talk about them with YOU.

  42. Justin*

    I would say give him one chance. I think we all think people might generally get our financial situations but I know there were people I went to college with who just sort of assumed we’d all reached the same place and, the ones I trusted, I was honest when I wasn’t doing very well, and some of them understood. Now that I’m doing better financially, I am open and empathetic with them (as some of them have fluctuated).

    There were those I thought I could trust, and they just drifted away. And those I was pretty sure not to trust (notably usually people who were also less aligned with me on social justice issues I write about), and for all these folks, now they’re just somebod(ies) that I used to know.

    1. Justin*

      I was just talking to a friend yesterday who once literally hired me and now I’m trying to help her out. But again, it requires trust and so forth and a desire to maintain the relationship on all fronts.

  43. too many dogs*

    First: You write that you have 3 months rent in the bank. Good job, you. Given today’s financial climate, the fact that you’ve managed to save that is impressive. You’re going to have to tell your friend something like “I’m not on the same financial plane as you, and right now I’m struggling. When you talk about [all the stuff he talks about] it really adds to my stress and I don’t need that right now. thanks for understanding.” And if he persists, just keep repeating it. Lots of us have been in (or are in) your position. It’s the club that nobody wants to be in. Good luck.

    1. BoratVoiceMyWife*

      OP here. I’ve never really been a “bright side” kind of a guy but the relative privilege of having back-up rent in the bank has never been lost on me. I’d just prefer it was a year’s rent rather than a quarter.

      1. Inkognyto*

        Lot of us have are there, have been there, or will be there.

        I’m working towards the quarter, and 3 years ago my salary got into what I should have been earning. My layoff in 2018 and struggle for the next 18 months was hard. Down to bare minumium, stressed to max to find any decent job related to my field. I did some overnight physical work. Then the job flew into my life. An opportunity where there was none. I did everything right, I aced interviews and did it with confidence. One thing that layoff did is make me assess my strengths, weaknesses and what I wanted from a job and what I can do for it. I undervalued my skillset massively. I’m now making 2x what I did before. I was not just underpaid, but going for the wrong roles. I’m now in a Senior position.

        The wording “I’m up to my ass in debt, stress and bills.” I had that for over a decade, and I’m still slowly climbing out, because that almost 2 years, that was a lot of debt, and it wiped my 401k. It was that bad. So I’m rebuilding, and I may retire with some money, it’s just going to take more work.

        Some friends are not compassionate enough to understand your problems. Maybe they are better off as an associate? would they notice?

        Have faith, and keep the head above water.

  44. pageall*

    I’m sorry, OP. I think some really good, honest communication is very needed here. I had a friend who was kinda similar. Her family received a massive (like, millions) settlement from a lawsuit, which paid her entire college tuition, two brand new cars, a down payment on a condo, etc. What really got to me is that she began talking about her financial situation as if she was still in a difficult place: “I just really need more room, two bedrooms isn’t cutting it for me! And uhg the BMW needs new tires” when we were still in school and I was earning minimum wage working two jobs. She may not have been summering in Europe, but it was incredibly tone-deaf when myself and the other 20-somethings in our friend group were being crushed by student debt, driving old barely-working cars, and living at home while we desperately saved for a tiny studio apartment. Because of some other issues, that friendship ended up in a bad place, but I wonder if I could have avoided some resentment had I just communicated better.

  45. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

    If he seems surprised you can’t afford a house, it might not be a bad idea to literally spell out the math for him.

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      +1! I talk about the housing market all of the time and I find most people don’t even know what current rents and home prices are. They think they are up to date when citing 2021 pricing, not realizing that many (even bad areas) had 10% increases since then. Now, that doesn’t mean anyone is actually paying these prices since existing home sales are at GFC lows as per data released this morning, but the asking prices are higher than most people realize!

  46. CommanderBanana*

    I know in my heart it’s not malicious and it’s entirely to do with a complete lack of understanding for how anyone outside his bubble lives, no matter how frequently I remind him that his worldview and level of opportunity is in the vast minority. He also takes any form of pushback or criticism incredibly poorly.

    I understand the LW doesn’t want to end such a long friendship, but sometimes we diverge enough from people that longevity alone isn’t enough of a reason to stay in a friendship. And not diverge in something like having or not having money, but diverge in something like being empathetic and valuing empathy.

  47. No Yelling on the Bus*

    This is only loosely relevant to the topic but I have never vented it before and want to get it off my chest. I make a good salary in VHCOL area, but definitely have to WORK for it. A friend of mine is SAH with 1 kid while her husband makes $500k in a LCOL area. She once described their life as “paycheck to paycheck” which…. was just mind numbingly tone deaf. What she meant was that by paying off their mortgage and their student loans, they aren’t flush with extra cash, but obviously that’s a very temporary situation. (They are not over-spenders, they live within their means). I also have another friend with probably $500-700k household income overall who “couldn’t afford” to pay their nanny $2/hr more, and lost the nanny. Again, I know what she meant by it – she meant that in their financial plans, every dollar is accounted for, and they were not planning to spend that much on the nanny (they are big savers/investors). The phrasing just drove me nuts.

    1. Pescadero*

      It doesn’t matter how much you make – you can live paycheck to paycheck and be broke.

      There are tens of thousands of millionaires who go broke and have to file bankruptcy every year in the USA.

      1. Green Goose*

        This. I remember when I was making about $35k in a LCOL area I was able to scrimp and save about $10k annually (no debt or kids at the time) and my friends boyfriend made $120k per year which was eye watering money to me. We were talking about savings so I assumed that he must have had so much saved/invested and he admitted that he not only spent every dollar he made but he actually overspent and was in debt due to the overspending. He also had no kids at the time.

      2. doreen*

        You absolutely can live paycheck to paycheck no matter what your income is. But I think “paycheck to paycheck” is similar to “fixed income” in that certain people use those phrases when they are literally true to give an inaccurate impression of their financial situation, get sympathy etc. A “fixed income” isn’t necessarily a small income and people who live paycheck to paycheck aren’t necessarily doing so because they have no alternative. My son currently is not saving any money so technically he’s living paycheck to paycheck. But he’s doing that in order to pay off his 15 yr mortgage in 5 years – it’s not the same as someone who has nothing left over after paying necessary expenses.

  48. Jolie*

    I used to have this ex friend – friendship broke down because she was very self-centered and a misery to be around.

    At the time when we were first friends, she was earning, at age 25, about twice what I was making and close to what I make now at 35- think quite a bit above the median age. I was on a budget, renting a small flat etc. but by no means thinking of myself as in poverty. Furthermore, I was at the end of a fixed – terms contract that was not going to be renewed and job-seeking.

    She got a job offer that came with a 20% salary increase. Her current employer tried to put together a counter-offer, the other employer re-negotiate it, so they were practically bidding for her.

    Meanwhile, she was ranting her head off at me about how “her life is ruined” and “it’s so unfair” that she has to choose between a job that pays slightly less (still far more than I was making!) and one that she would find interesting. While never once asking how my own job search is going and how I’m feeling about it.

    After this whole hoopla, even though now she was earning on her own as much as me and my partner combined, she continued to complain and call herself “broke” and “poor”, which I thought was incredibly offensive to actual poor people. (Before you ask : she was single, with no children nor pets, no caring responsibilities and no debt apart from standard UK student loans, and she didn’t even have particularly expensive taste). I used to joke that she’s the rich girl from the Pulp’s “Common people” who thinks that calling herself poor makes her sound cool – though I guess it was less “makes her sound cool” and more “fits with her miserablist woe-is -me vibe”.

    Now the interesting thing is: if someone had come yo me like “Oh look at me, employers are bidding for me while you’re about two lose your job, and I have so much money, OMG I’m so grateful hashtag blessed”, my ex-friend would have immediately recognised that person as a massive a-hole and their behaviour as wrong. In a way, she thought that what she was doing easy different and acceptable because what she was doing instead was “Oh look at me, employers are bidding for me while you’re about two lose your job and I’m so UNgrateful, if I act like it’s a bad thing happening to me it doesn’t count as bragging!” Funnily enough I think the reason why she never asked how I feel about my own job search is because she suspected my answer would have been “actually pretty confident, excited about my next steps and not miserable”. She thought that support was supposed to flow from me to her and not the other way around because she was miserable and I was hopeful, even if in reality this easy entirely due to difference in attitude, not material circumstances.

    Can’t quite tell, but I wonder whether there is a bit of that, to a lesser degree, in your friend – it’s super frustrating when someone treats you as their on-call life coach and sounding board without reciprocating, and doubly so when they are in a much more privileged position than you.

  49. Green Goose*

    I had boyfriend in college who came from a very different background than me. His dad was a surgeon and he grew up in Beverly Hills and had a trust fund. But he complained about money constantly, including to my roommate who ended up dropping out of college because she couldn’t afford it.
    One time after he was whining about not getting enough allowance (he was 22!) in front of my roommate I waited until she left to have a serious talk with him about how much she was really struggling financially and that it was pretty tone deaf to complain to her. He was defensive but at least stopped complaining to her.
    We didn’t date that long but he’s the wealthiest person I ever dated and he also complained the most about money and would plan expensive dates that he would refuse to pay for because he “didn’t want to be used for his money”. I had to have another conversation with him saying I am fine paying for myself but I couldn’t afford to do the things he wanted to do. Another confused Pikachu face from him.

    1. Jolie*

      Yeah that’s the whole thing – “Bragging about money is wrong, but I’m not bragging, I’m whinging, so it’s fine!” My ex friend was also the kind of person who really struggled to be happy for other people and acted as if anything good happening to anyone else was happening *at* her. I wonder whether that was linked to the way in which she thought about her financial situation – like “If I admit it’s good I’ll be one of those obnoxious happy people who need to STFU in my book, so I’ll frame it as miserable so I can keep talking about it”

    2. CommanderBanana*

      “would plan expensive dates that he would refuse to pay for because he “didn’t want to be used for his money”

      Wooooooooooooow. I had to have a similar conversation with a (now ex) boyfriend who worked in tech and made gobs of money, as did all his friends. I worked in a nonprofit and had a mortgage. He just could not understand why I couldn’t afford to go out to eat multiple times a week in our HCOL city.

  50. Gilgongo*

    I was once complaining about how broke I was to my sister who interrupted me to say that earlier that day, I had bought myself a hat & gloves… and she could barely make her rent and couldn’t imagine having $20 to buy something on a whim. And it really bothered her when I said I was “broke” because I really wasn’t and she actually was.

    I felt horrible because she was absolutely right! I apologized & never complained about my finances to her again.

    1. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

      To be fair, this sounds like a broke vs poor thing. College students are often “broke” since they don’t have income/money for random stuff, but that’s different than being poor, where you might not be able to afford college.

  51. You're a Rich Girl,*

    I’ve been friends since high school – over 20 years – with a guy who got rich in tech about a decade ago. I’m in admin at a non-profit and loaded with student loan debt, so there’s a very significant wealth difference between us. Our solution is really just that he doesn’t talk about money. He watched a lot of his coworker-friends turn ugly when they got money and decided he didn’t want to be like that, so while he does live a quite comfortable lifestyle it’s nothing I’d call ostentatious. Or if it is, he has the sense not to go into detail with me about it! He’d certainly never complain to me about his privileged problems without being asked to, or without a privilege check up front. (Other problems are fine!)

    He doesn’t stop me from talking about my finances if/when I want to, though. I can tell it’s harder for him to relate to me these days, but he understands our situations – money can be a problem for me in a way that it just can’t be for him, and that necessarily affects how we interact and relate with each other. If he didn’t get that, then I’d have a very hard time staying friends with him even with all of our years of shared history.

    1. higheredadmin*

      Same – my best friend from high school married her college boyfriend who then hit it big in tech. They are now essentially retired in their 40s and have hobby jobs, and it is painfully tone deaf. It is not money so much – they worked very hard to achieve what they did. The hardest is to hear them complain about things that they have set up for themselves – my friend decided to homeschool the kids so they could travel more, and then CONSTANTLY complains about how much work it is. When they come and visit from their extensive travels they say that they never have time enough so their old friends get like a quick dinner and maybe an afternoon squeezed in. They have clearly forgotten what life is like with school schedules and three weeks of paid vacation a year and it is maddening. I think there is good advice in here in terms of having an honest conversation if you value your friendship.

  52. Catherine from Canada*

    This situation is very similar to what I experienced with my sister. I got married young, had a bunch of kids and did everything I could to save money, do without, make it myself. At one point, despite my husband’s relatively good income, taxes on a single-income family put us below the “poverty level” for a family of our size.
    My sister, on the other hand, started an (eventually award-winning) advertising company with her husband. Their beginnings were rough, groceries on the credit card rough, and they worked incredibly hard for years. It paid off. At one point, they had homes and offices in three major Canadian cities, New York City and Amsterdam.
    For years, she really could not comprehend that I couldn’t, for example, borrow $$ to put in my RRSP and then pay off the loan with my tax refund. That I couldn’t just hop on a train and come visit her whenever, or pay for swimming and music lessons for my kids. Surely I just wasn’t thinking about money right, and if I just listened to her, it would all work out. Why didn’t I just _buy_ another winter coat?!
    I love my sister, I liked visiting and seeing her, but after a few days, it would just make me sad. The gulf between us was just so visible to me and so invisible to her. It was hard to listen to complaints about how expensive suitcases got dented while travelling around Japan and the Philippines, when I had unpacked a $30 suitcase in the guest room of her house.
    It sounds crazy, but she went to India for a month for her 60th birthday, and changed. Something about the depths of poverty there, something about how hard everyone worked and were still poor, something about her tourism being essentially exploitative of their poverty, really got to her.
    She came home a different person. There is still a vast income gap between us, but she sees it now. She’s not the kind of person to just “give” me $$, or help my kids with their student loans, but she’s a lot less judgemental, a lot more understanding, and a lot less likely to talk finances. We have plenty else to talk about. We’ve come to some kind of peace and understanding about our very different lives.
    She’s currently in Anguilla. and I’m okay with that.

  53. Jamie (he/him)*

    I’ve been rich (not 1% rich, but well above average income rich) and I’ve been poor (homeless three times, but only on the streets once). The difference between these two states of being is literally – quite literally – three paydays.

    But when I was rich, I admit, I reverted to being unaware of it. I mean, not unaware-unaware, the scars of being on the streets (and “can I make rent this month?” and “can I eat today?”) live with you forever. But it’s so very easy to want to forget sleeping under a bench – because they put “hand rests” on benches now so we can’t get sleep in public, thanks for that.

    He doesn’t want to remember being poor, because being poor sucks. That’s fine. That he wants to pull up the drawbridge behind him? Not cool.

    Alison, as always, has it right. You need to tell him.

    For yourself, but also for all the other people in our first-world developed society that aren’t as lucky. He needs to wind his neck in. He needs to remember where he came from. He needs, above all, to stop with the related behaviour – which you don’t mention but we *all* know he’s doing – of belittling serving staff, not tipping, treating people “below him” like scum and the like. Because he’s doing that too. Of course he is.

    It’s going to be awkward. It’s going to burn a bridge. You’re going to fall out and never speak again. But you have to tell him, for the good of society. And for his own sake, because one day he will be poor again, and being poor sucks. He shouldn’t have to live with his own words ringing in his ears as he tries to find enough pennies to get a sandwich.

    It won’t work, of course it won’t, but you will have done the world a favour by telling him where to get off.

  54. Kella*

    Hey OP, I’m someone who is not nearly as rich as your friend but I have significantly more money than many of my friends do. I also used to have much less money so I know what it’s like to be constantly struggling and the fact that I have money now is in no way due to any choices I made or work I’ve done. It’s total luck that I have what I have.

    I think the issue with you and your friend might not be money talk but some other things that are being revealed by the money talk. You say it’s hard to listen to him complain about losing an opportunity for even more money when he’s already so well off, while you struggle to pay bills. Does he listen to you when you complain about your struggle to pay your bills? Do you talk about that? Is he offering you that support back? If not, that’s a big imbalance that isn’t actually about money.

    You say he tells you to just ask for more money. There are two problems here. One is that he’s revealing that he sees his wealth AS A CHOICE that anyone could make if they wanted to, when in many ways it is not, which implies that if you’re struggling, it’s because you’ve chosen to. The other problem is apparently he doesn’t listen to or trust your own assessment of your financial situation when you tell him that’s not possible in your industry. That’s disrespectful, regardless of how much money he has.

    Lastly, I’m curious, does he ever express gratitude for his financial situation? I notice that even though you listed many ways your financial situation is hard, you still acknowledged that you make enough to get by. You recognize that you *could* have less than you do, even though your lack of money causes you hardship. If he never expresses gratitude and only complains about losing access to even more money, that may indicate that he has an insatiable attitude towards money or other resources, which can turn really toxic.

    I think your friend is acting entitled, self-centered, and dismissive toward you and all of that would be a problem no matter how much money he made.

  55. Not Janet*

    It’s definitely a tough situation to be in. I have once been the tone deaf one, sharing news and information with a friend about my second pregnancy, unbeknownst to me she had been desperately trying to have another child, and at 41 it was looking unlikely that she would be successful, and was very upset by my news and what I was sharing. Once she told me this I cried as I had never intended to cause her pain, and had been so caught up in my own news I hadn’t considered that she might be finding it difficult to handle. Obviously different to financial issues, I guess maybe the friend just does not realise what he is doing and how it makes you feel, as someone else has also commented that perhaps you used to discuss it and now things have changed. Definitely what Alison said, lay it all bare like that for the friend. Also by the way I wish you all the best of luck in finding a job, and also I think it’s pretty impressive you’ve got 3 months rent saved, it’s hard to get savings right now.

  56. Wild Wild West*

    I am in this situation with several friends where there is a significant disparity in our incomes. Multiple friends have said things from time to time that are insensitive relating to money; however, it’s more of a problem for me with someone who appears to be repeatedly tone-deaf. It sounds like your friend is that kind of repeat offender. While it is a good point that your wealthier friend shouldn’t be expected to be a mind reader, if you do share how you are feeling it’s possible that you may not get the response you want. I shared how I felt with a person I considered to fall into the repeat offender and good friend categories. Her response was to compete with my financial difficulty explaining that 20 years ago she had spent 3 years as a missionary in country X and lived on nothing for that (in my opinion very small) period. While I had hoped that disclosure would bring more sensitivity, it didn’t result in what I had wanted. We are still friends, but very distant ones. It wasn’t the money insensitivity alone that led to the distance, but it was a contributor. I had to find other people with more life similarities to be confidantes on money issues. This friend seemed shocked several years ago when I had to make a move away from the area that we both lived in. The HCOL had made my rent unaffordable and I was forced into moving across the country. It was something she was unable to relate to and seemed hurt that I had not shared more about moving with her. Again this seemed a little tone deaf to me. Sometimes different life experiences/finances may pull friends apart. If that happens to you, I hope your friend will learn from it and you will find other appropriate confidantes.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      “Her response was to compete with my financial difficulty explaining that 20 years ago she had spent 3 years as a missionary in country X and lived on nothing for that (in my opinion very small) period.”

      As someone who was converted by a roving pack of US missionaries at age 22 and took 20 years to get back out of religion, good. I’m glad that she lived on nothing. My only regret is that it wasn’t “nothing” enough for her and her fellow missionaries to give up the whole thing and go back home. These people did so much damage to my life and probably others. And, whatever hardships they may have experienced as a result of their decision to go on a mission, it is not at all the same as you trying to live your life and make ends meet in the area that you grew up in and wanted to stay in.

  57. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    This thread reminded me of some goofy things I had my friends say that had me immediately want to cool down on the friendship.

    One – back in my better-off, double-income-family days, which were also the early days of social networks, everyone was finding everybody they knew in high school, college etc on these early social networks and catching up. I reconnected with a college acquaintance, whose husband was my then-husband’s friend. Her husband had come to the US in the early 90s on a work visa, they settled down in Silicon Valley, had high-paying tech jobs, were doing great. I noticed it in messages from this college friend that she was asking me about my life, but the questions were odd. Kind of loaded. I tried to brush it off as me overreacting, until she said “and what do you guys do for vacations? We like to do this thing where, in addition to our real vacations, we like to fly down to an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean for a week just to do something cheap and relaxing” meanwhile my husband and I had just, for the first time, managed to scrape together enough cash to go to an all-inclusive resort in the DR for a week as a family. I admit I started replying to her less frequently after that.

    Two – someone I’d been friends with for a few years, after several years of dating, married well. New wife was super talented and successful (and really is a great person) was pulling in decent amounts of cash, had no kids, and this friend’s kids were already grown. On their first European trip, this friend posted something about how everyone should travel overseas at least once a year and how limiting it was not to do so. Meanwhile I had a terminally ill dog who needed a ton meds and tests, and between that and my younger son’s college bills, I was barely making it from one paycheck to the next. Very limiting, not gonna lie! Again, the friendship cooled off after that. I just didn’t see that person the same way again. Nothing wrong with doing well for oneself and traveling the world, I just could no longer see enough common grounds for us to be friends.

  58. Amy Key*

    Let me offer the other side of this dilemma. When my husband and I met our best friends 20 years ago, he was working full-time as a waiter and I was living on a $17,000 teacher salary; the couple who became our best friends were artists with day jobs and living in a similar socio-economic position. We were living in rented apartments just a few blocks from each other. Two decades later, I have become very successful in a technology field and my husband very successful in an artistic field. We did buy a two million dollar house. We do spend our summers in Europe. Our best friends have struggled economically; one has the same day job and is still working on their art, the other has struggled with maintaining steady employment given turmoil in various industries. For the first decade of our diverging economic paths, we paid for them to travel with us and found ways to support their art. But eventually the scope of what I was allowed to discuss with my best friend in terms of what was creating stress in my life, anxiety, depression or worries grew smaller and smaller because they were all “rich people problems.” It became impossible to be myself and not feel judged as someone who should just be happy all the time with my perfect life. Our relationship dwindled away and now she wonders what happened to her best friend. I tried to be there for them socially, emotionally, and even financially to the extent that it would not make them feel obligated to us. But in my experience of the relationship, they created an impassable obstacle to remaining close friends by equating wealth with an obligation to shut up and be happy. So everyone who thinks the OP’s best friend is a jerk, this is the other side of the story.

    1. allathian*

      Thanks for posting, it’s a very good counterpoint to the LW’s letter.

      Someone who’s living paycheck to paycheck, or struggling to juggle several precarious jobs and constantly worrying about how to make ends meet is very probably going to think that they could make all their problems go away if they had enough money. So they are probably not going to be very sympathetic to what they see as luxury worries. If you’re living a wealthy lifestyle that has been made possible by two high incomes, your less wealthy friend is probably not going to be very sympathetic if you complain about how your spouse’s never at home.

      The larger the income gap, the harder it is to find things to talk about that don’t focus on the difference. Even talking about favorite TV shows isn’t an option if your friend has never seen any of the shows you watch because they can’t afford streaming services, for example.

      I’m not saying that wealthy people don’t have problems, or that they aren’t allowed to talk about them with their friends. It’s just that the problems that wealthy people have are often ones that poorer people think they would be willing to live with if they only had the wealth, and that the problems the poor are struggling with the most could often be solved with money.

      That said, have you ever told your friends that you feel that they’ve created an impossible obstacle to remaining close friends by equating wealth with an obligation to shut up and be happy? Maybe say that the next time your former best friend wonders why you aren’t close anymore and see what happens.

      If your former (?) friends have any capacity to see past their own circumstances, they might realize that wealth on its own doesn’t guarantee happiness and that even wealthy people can’t solve every problem by throwing money at it.

  59. Orv*

    I feel this because it’s why I’ve drifted away from my friends. I’m doing better than them, and that means I can’t talk about what’s going on in my life without being insensitive. With nothing to talk about, we’ve had fewer and fewer reasons to talk. It makes me sad but I don’t know what to do about it.

    1. Despachito*

      Aren’t there plenty of interesting things to talk about that do not involve money?

      Concerts, books, films, interesting facts…?

      1. Orv*

        Taking about stuff like concerts and films doesn’t go over well with people who can’t afford tickets. Ditto vacations and travel, as the article noted.

        I’m in my 40s so they’ve all already heard all my stories about my past. ;)

        1. Despachito*

          I reckon that depends a lot on the people involved and their willingness to communicate, and (only tangentially) on how big is the difference in their income.

          Even a relatively poorer person can afford a ticket now and then. And you can watch a lot of films either for free or for a small amount of money on some Internet platform.

          Re vacations and travel – again it depends a lot on the people involved and how they perceive things. Vacation in a tropical paradise can be boring as hell, and staycation may become an adventure, depending on who talks about it.

          We have friends who travel a lot less than us, and we almost never talk about vacations or traveling (we mention it only briefly and only if asked). And if I think about it twice we do not discuss films or concerts either. We talk about funny stories at work, about what we are up to and can relate a bit, about interesting things that happened to us, what we see around us… There are so many interesting topics, even if you are totally different and are interested in different things. In fact, this is even better than if you are into the same thing because you can always learn something new.

          If you take out of the equation everything that divides you and there is nothing left to be interesting for either of you, it is possible that the friendship has just run its course. It is sad but these things happen, but this is less about money and more about the people involved.

  60. Thom Tom*

    Did anyone else read this and end up diving deep into the green sea of jealousy? While swimming my laps there, I started dreaming up “solutions”. Mostly involving taxing the 1% like it was the 1950s.

    1. Orv*

      You don’t have to be in the 1% to have this problem, though. Even a middle class income can be enough if your friends are “failed to launch” types.

  61. Zweisatz*

    I think it would make sense for the OP to evaluate too if they’re still feeling the friendship because I cannot tell if they may have soured on the whole idea at this point (which is a thing that is allowed to happen).

    Like is there common ground right, gun conversations and/or support that you give each other that you would like to hold on to? Then great, have the conversation and probably start on a different trajectory that will keep you happier.

    But maybe you’ve grown apart in ways that are more than money and it would lift a weight off your shoulders to acknowledge that. I cannot tell that from afar.

    I would recommend imagining what it would be like if, without any difficult conversation, just snipping your fingers, you could end contact tomorrow. Are you feeling a sense of relief? Or mostly a sense of losses and sadness? If it is the latter then you know that it’s time to spell out what’s on your head (money is a fraught topic and you need a different way to talk about it) so he knows it too.

    (Accidentally posted this in a subthread but wanted to post it here.)

  62. Luna*

    The next time the friend suggests you just ask for more money, go ahead and ask your friend to give you money?

  63. rachel*

    I have this problem with a few friends who have outstripped my earning greatly (I work in nonprofit, ton of student debt, etc). How are we still friends? I’m not embarrassed to say I’m broke. Alison’s advice is good, because lots of people, in fact most in the US, are broke – at best. There’s no shame in having to work hard for not enough money, even if the society this friend represents acts like it is. The real shame here is capitalism, the system that makes this happen.

    On a deeper level, this particular relationship may have gone past the resentment tipping point, and this friend might just be inconsiderate. However I think it’s still worth reflecting on these feelings of resentment. Could you feel this hurt because you were once on his path, and now you’re slumming it with the rest of us? I sympathize with that feeling, truly, but I don’t think it brings you much solace, and it’s not a feeling that will spark a revolution against income inequality either, really.

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