Friendship should be its own budget item
Money can be a difficult topic to navigate in any relationship. Putting time and money into healthy friendships, especially the ones that have already stood the test of time, can be a super valuable investment.
There are a lot of varying factors, as always.
If you’re sitting down to set or reset your budget, consider where your friendship expenses are factored in. Often we see them as social activities but what about the emergency Uber you take to help your mate who’s locked out? The ice cream you order when broken hearts need healing? The Netflix subscription you share, the hours you spend on FaceTime, and the emotional labour that’s unpaid in dollar terms, but no less valuable.
We’d say there’s cause then, for friendship to be a budget item of its very own. One that’s well worth setting aside time and money for if you’re in a position to do so. Here are a few reasons we reckon friendships are a good investment.
It’s not actually all about spending money
If you’re someone who uses a values-based budget, then you’ll already have a dollar value attached to your time. If this is the case, it can be so crucial to factor in the energy you regularly dedicate to your mates. That includes the time you put into phone calls, proofreading their dating profiles, and listening to how their weeks have been. You might even spend the weekend thrifting for your friend’s vintage store? Although this isn’t ‘work’ or something you even want to be paid for, it is precious time that you want to have capacity to afford, and therefore worthy of budgeting for.
It’s quite likely that the time you invest in your friendships will be returned as dividends in the future. After all, relationships are all about give and take so you might have proofread their dating profile but maybe they’ll help you move house. Or you might have helped them through a breakup but they’ll help you re-write your CV. This is not about aligning a cost-benefit to every good deed you do for a mate, instead, it’s about truly valuing friendship as an important aspect of wellbeing, and that includes how we spend our time and money.
Friendships can involve a lot of small, selfless spends
It feels good to be generous – science says so – which supports a theory that we like to give ourselves, our time, and our money to friendships. That includes the time you spend online with your best mates, taking public transport when it’s their turn to host wine night, or the nibbles you get in when you’re on hosting duties. Chances are, you regularly wave away their offer to pay for coffee: “No worries, you paid last time”.
Simply knowing you’ve set aside money to be that generous friend is a solid self-care act. It also means you can focus on enjoying the moments and being there for someone, rather than worrying about the bill. It’s worth flagging here that healthy friendships don’t rely on going out and being lavish, but sometimes you just wanna have a good time with your besties.
Supporting a friend who’s going through something
If your friend was going through a tricky time and you were in a position to loan them some money to help, would you? Maybe they’ve done the same for you in the past. Although you wouldn’t necessarily sacrifice a huge chunk of your emergency fund to potentially cover someone else’s emergency, being across your budget will help you lend a hand if and when someone you love needs it.
People with good friendships live longer
Research has found that good friendships and leading an active social life can increase our mortality rate by 50 per cent. That goes hand-in-hand with studies that show being connected and kind can literally make us live longer. That sort of suggests that budgeting to spend more time socialising with your friends is a healthy investment. And who are we to argue with science?
Gift-giving is a Love Language – so budget for it!
Do you get a buzz from gift-giving? Love surprising your mates with presents ’just because’? Maybe you make a habit of blowing out the Christmas spending limit?
If that sounds like you, then we have one more question: are you making way in your spending plan (ie. budget) for all that generous gifting action?
Many of us don’t think of including gifting as a budget item but it can make all the difference if you’re someone whose love language involves spending cash on the people you care about (or if you’re socially obliged to give gifts *cough, office Kris Kringle*).
There’s no shortage of reasons to be spending on gifts, either. Birthdays, sure. The holidays, most likely. But what about wedding gifts, baby shower gifts, and all those gifts to say congratulations, commiserations, or happy job, happy home, thanks for being a great human?
Having a budget line item for gift giving means the gift can truly come from the best place because you won’t be feeling stretched or anxious about the spend.
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