Navigating Relationship with a Friend Earning a Higher Salary

Navigating Relationship with a Friend Earning a Higher Salary

Navigating relationship with a friend earning a higher salary can be tricky, but manageable with open communication and understanding.

Friendships are often the threads that bind us together. These connections offer support, camaraderie, and shared experiences that enrich our lives in countless ways. However, when financial disparities emerge among friends, they can strain these valuable bonds.

In a world where money talks and comparisons are inevitable, it’s important to maintain the harmony of your friendships while navigating the complexities of varying income levels. This blog will explore the delicate balance between financial security, friend ties, and managing conversations about money with friends.

Importance of Friendships and Financial Security

Before delving into the intricacies of managing financial disparities with friends, let’s first acknowledge the vital role that friendships play in our lives. Friends are often the pillars of support during both good and challenging times. They provide emotional sustenance, lend a listening ear, and offer companionship. Our friends are often our most trusted confidants, and they share our life’s joys and sorrows.

Financial security, on the other hand, is a cornerstone of a stable and fulfilling life, granting people peace of mind to pursue goals, take care of our families, and indulge in life’s pleasures. Achieving financial security often involves earning a steady income, managing expenses wisely, and saving for the future. However, everyone’s journey is unique and can vary significantly due to factors such as career choices, educational backgrounds, and economic circumstances.

Money Talks Between Friends

Conversations about money are all but inevitable, even amongst friends. While discussing finances can be uncomfortable, avoiding the topic entirely can lead to misunderstandings, resentment, and ultimately, strained friendships. Here’s how to navigate the tricky waters of discussing money with friends.


The first step in dealing with financial differences among friends is understanding that everyone’s financial journey is unique. People have varying incomes, expenses, and financial goals. What might be easy for one friend could be a significant challenge for another.

Instead of making assumptions, approach financial conversations with empathy and curiosity. Ask questions to learn about your friends’ financial situations and goals. This understanding can help bridge gaps in perception.

Avoid Comparisons

Comparing your financial situation to that of your friends can be detrimental to your self-esteem and your relationships, especially when some of the more-well-off have the propensity to flaunt luxuries.  

Remember that income is just one facet of a person’s financial life – and they might have expenses or financial obligations that are probably better off private. Instead of comparing salaries, focus on your individual financial goals and how you can support each other in achieving them.

Set Boundaries

Open and honest communication is vital when it comes to discussing money with friends. However, it’s also essential to establish boundaries. Some financial matters may be too personal to share, and that’s perfectly acceptable. Respect your friends’ privacy and don’t press them for information they’re not comfortable sharing – you can’t even attempt to tease them about the size of their paycheque.

That privacy is even more paramount when some friends are actually colleagues and your company may not favour salary discussions with anybody outside the HR and finance departments. However, while the federal government has officially banned pay secrecy terms in employment contracts drawn up after 7 December 2022, it really begs the question, “how far do you have to go with discussing your friend’s finances?” 

Avoid Financial Resentment

Financial resentment can fester if not addressed. If you find yourself feeling envious or bitter about a friend’s higher income, try to reframe your perspective. Instead of dwelling on what you lack, focus on what you can control. Establish realistic financial objectives and strive to accomplish them. Remember that your financial journey is unique, and comparing it to others’ is counterproductive.

Writing for Money Magazine, Phil Slade discussed a situation about his son buying a pre-owned dual cab 4WD vehicle while attending university. The child intended to use that on adventures with his friends, but financial realities like vehicle maintenance and study costs forced him to distance, as the friends went to work instead of studying, helping them earn enough to buy new SUVs.

Support Each Other

True friendships are built on support and understanding. If a friend is facing financial challenges, offer your assistance in ways that align with your own financial capabilities. This support doesn’t always have to be financial; it can also involve emotional support, advice, or simply being there to listen.

Keep the Bigger Picture in Mind

In the grand scheme of things, money is just one aspect of life. While financial security is important, it’s not the only measure of a person’s worth or happiness. Focus on the qualities that drew you to your friends in the first place – shared interests, values, and experiences. Remember that the strength of your friendships goes beyond the numbers on a paycheque.

Navigating Friend Dynamics

Friendships evolve over time. Financial differences can test these relationships, but they don’t have to break them. Here are some tips for managing friend dynamics when earning more or less money than your friends.

Sensitivity to Activities and Choices

When planning activities with friends, consider everyone’s financial situation. Opt for activities that are inclusive and won’t strain anyone’s budget. Additionally, be understanding if a friend declines an invitation due to financial constraints. Avoid making them feel guilty or uncomfortable about their choice.

Celebrate Milestones Together

Whether it’s a new job, a promotion, or a financial milestone like paying off debt, celebrate each other’s achievements. This can help strengthen the bond between friends and create a positive atmosphere around financial success.

No Unsolicited Advice

While your intentions may be good, giving unsolicited financial advice can come across as condescending or judgemental. Instead, wait for your friends to seek advice if they want it. Offer your guidance gently and non-judgmentally when asked.

Stay True to Your Values

Money can influence decisions and priorities, but it shouldn’t change who you are as a person or your core values. Maintain your authenticity and integrity in your friendships, regardless of your financial situation.

Friendship Matters More than Money

Navigating financial disparities with friends can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Remember that friendships are built on trust, support, and shared experiences, not on the numbers in your bank account. By approaching financial conversations with empathy, setting boundaries, and focusing on the bigger picture, you can maintain strong and lasting friendships despite varying income levels. Ultimately, true friends are the ones who stand by your side, regardless of your financial situation, and that’s a treasure worth cherishing.

DISCLAIMER:  This article is for informational purposes only and is the opinion of the author.

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