Dealing with a Cheap Friend: 5 Ways To Save Your Money & Friendship

For the most part many college kids are strapped financially and swimming in a sea of debt, so being FRUGAL is okay! In fact, it’s good!

But what do you do when your friend crosses the line of Frugal and being “smart” with their money to being outright cheap for no reason?

We all have a friend or an acquaintance like this–the one who asks for a dime back when you buy them something and looks for reasons not to tip waiters.

I once had a friend who was financially stable, but just really, REALLY cheap. It affected our friendship because for some reason no matter what we ended up doing together, I always ended up paying significantly more.

If we went out to dinner, she would say she didn’t want to tip the waiter for “poor service” and I would oblige. If we had gift exchanges in a group, she would increase the price budget to $20 from $10 and then give $1 gifts.

In a friendship, money shouldn’t matter. But when the issue comes up repeatedly, it eventually does erode the foundation of your friendship.

Common sense says that you should talk to your friend if they’re cheap. But what if you can’t? That conversation is so awkward, uncomfortable and borderline insulting for your friend.

Below are five ways to still be friends, but save your wallet from it’s misery when you have a cheap friend:

1. Don’t Impose Anything Expensive

The first thing you need to do is make sure you aren’t the one imposing a lavish activity. If you know your friend is cheap, then suggest decent restaurants that are under $10 a person and simple, less-expensive activities.

If and when you do invite your friend to something more high end or costly, then leave an open door for the person.

For example, you could say to your friend, “We’re all going sky diving–it’s going to be about $100 a person. We’re going on the 25th, let me know if you’re free”

2. Avoid Expensive Restaurants & Activities

Always do your best to avoid expensive restaurants and activities. This is the place where a cheap friend will find flaws in waiters and suggest not tipping. It’s also where your friend will suggest going Dutch if your bill is higher or splitting 50-50 if theirs is.

Make sure to suggest going Dutch from the invitation (e.g. “oh wow the restaurant looks amazing! I’m so excited! You know we can go Dutch for the bill since I’m probably going to binge my heart out”). Or to order in synchrony with your friend–if s(he) orders a $15 entree, you order one in the same range!

Another great way is to take just enough cash to cover your bill and tip!

3. Avoid Gift Exchanges

This one is really up to you–I never implemented it. But generally speaking, avoid gift exchanges. A great way to deal with the holidays is to suggest a joint activity in lieu of giving gifts like going out to dinner, going into the city or seeing a show.

Why did I never implement it? I figure the holidays and birthdays are for giving and not expecting anything in return. I still give gifts, but I keep my expectations and my budget low.

4. Always Be the one who Owes

There are countless situations in which one friend has to make the purchases and the other one pay up. If you’re ever in a situation where one of you needs to order tickets, make sure your friend does it! You will pay up, but you don’t know if s(he) will!

5. NEVER go on a long distance Vacation

Unless it’s a cruise in which the ticket covers all other expenses including food, avoid vacations! Dividing up gas, car rental, food, drinks and boarding are just bombs ready to explode!

With these 5 tips, you’re good to go on dealing with cheap friends and acquaintances–just make sure you correctly identified your friends cheap ways so you can rectify them more easily!

Frugal is when a person is cheap with their money AND yours! A Cheapskate is one who is cheap with their money, and only THEIR money!

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