A difference in salary can quickly divide even the best of friends

You’re struggling to make ends meet, yet your bestie just returned from yet another beach vacation. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you can barely cover your expenses, but another friend just bought a snazzy new car.

Differences in salary can quickly divide even the best of friends, but they don’t have to. Here are some ways to ensure that your friendship survives, no matter how much bacon you bring home:

1. Don’t make assumptions about your friends’ finances

It’s easy to feel envious of your friend’s nice car or great house. Unless you’re in on the intimate details of their bank account though, don’t assume that their job pays well. For all you know, your friend could live on a shoestring budget or be drowning in debt.

Appearances can be deceiving, so don’t use their lifestyle to assume anything about their savings or salary.

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2. Tell the truth about your financial situation

Although you don’t need to share your tax returns or bank statements, you do need to be honest about your financial situation. If you can’t afford a particular activity, tell your friends.

3. Focus on your common interests

Regardless of your current financial circumstances, your friends are your friends for a reason. Focus on your common interests, the values you share, or the history you have together. Even if you’re each in a completely different income bracket, your mutual values will help you maintain your bond.

Time is a currency with infinite value, which makes it the best gift to share with our friends

4. Stay in!

Next time your friends want to hang out, suggest staying in! Whether you’re watching Netflix or playing a board game, having a quiet house party can be super fun. Plan a dinner club so that everyone contributes a yummy dish.

Oh, and don’t forget the wine!

5. Make your gifts about the memories… not the price tag

Whether they’re for someone’s birthday or a group Secret Santa, gifts can be a touchy topic for many people. Set a price point that’s affordable for everyone and focus on the event, not the presents. No one will remember all the ‘stuff’ they receive when they’re laughing about who sang Christmas karaoke in August.

6. Embrace the outdoors together!

Our friends care about us, even about our physical health. Working out, hiking or playing a group sport together can provide endless low-cost ways to solidify your friendships. Get some vitamin D and remind each other why they call it ‘the great outdoors’!

7. Practice understanding

If you’re the high earner in your friend group, you may frequently feel frustrated with your friends’ lower salary. Trust me though, your friends don’t relish making less. Money is a sensitive topic that causes anxiety. Be empathetic when you want to grab prime seats for that concert but your friend can only swing nosebleed seats. Defer to their budget, and focus on having fun together.

Money can cause rifts in your friendships, but it doesn’t have to! When you feel anxious about what you earn compared to your friend, take a deep breath and focus on what an amazing person your friend is. True friends don’t care if you spend time together relaxing at the spa or playing board games at home. They simply want to spend time with you.

Time is a currency with infinite value, which makes it the best gift to share with our friends. We can always make more money, but we can never get more time, which is worth a great deal more than our bank balance.

This article was first published on Unwritten.