We’ve all had friends like this: They routinely “forget” their wallet when you go out with them, or they brought the wrong credit card, or they haven’t had the change to deposit their paycheck in their bank account, or they’ve just had to pay a huge car repair bill and are broke.
And so, once again, you pick up the tab.
Everyone runs into hard times now and then, and who hasn’t forgotten their wallet, or found themselves unexpectedly out of cash? But if you have a friend who often relies on you to pay for their meals, tickets, drinks, or other expenses, you may have a money vampire on your hands.
Is it time to don the proverbial garlic? Setting boundaries with this friend will certainly help your bank account and, if you are feeling resentful, may save your friendship.
One idea is to set up a “community” expense pot, or “tay,” in cash or using a cash card, before you go out. Each must contribute an equal amount, and when the balance dips, you each replenish it with another equal amount. One person (you) would be responsible for tracking expenditures and balance, so you don’t run out.
I got this idea from a friend who uses this system when traveling with friends. No one has to worry, then, about paying more than others or collecting reimbursements for expenditures. When the group shares a restaurant meal, the cost comes out of the “tay.” Transportation, admission fees, entertainment: the “tay” pays, hassle-free, question-free, stress-free. And no one feels taken advantage of.
Knowing your own boundaries is key to establishing them with vampire friends (or with money vampires of all kinds). There is a difference between demonstrating largesse—being generous with a dear friend who lacks your financial resources—and feeling coerced into giving, or taken for granted.
I have a close friend who is a single mother of three. She works hard for every penny, and has little left after expenses for “extras.” Now and then I invite her to my cabin on the lake, intending to pay the bulk of the costs. I provide groceries and treat her to an expense-free weekend. Doing so is my choice, and I feel good about it. She always brings some goodies such as chocolate, champagne, or quality coffee, but she doesn’t have to. I’m happy to treat.
It’s easy to see, though, how some friends might take advantage of my generosity. Perhaps they would contribute nothing, not even offering to cook or clean up. Maybe they wouldn’t even express gratitude. As I said, these gestures are not necessary, but they do help maintain a sense of reciprocity, which is important in any healthy relationship.
If your friend isn’t reciprocating your generosity or at least attempting to, they are almost certainly a money vampire. Guard your bank account or they will bleed you dry.
Saying “sorry, I can’t pay this time” or suggesting a mutually-funded “tay” can be a great way to let your lifeblood-sucking friend know that they need to step up to the financial plate. If they don’t, it may be time to pound the wooden stake of self-respect into this so-called friendship, and walk away. Because the appetite of a vampire is never sated for long. Soon enough, they’ll be back—for more of your money.
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.