“I Work Full Time!”
I recently had an incident at work that got me thinking about friends and money and why you should not give your friends money advice unless they ask for it. My friend/co-worker came up to me and asked me if I wanted a coffee from Dunkin Donuts. Knowing that this friend was trying to break the habit of buying his coffee to save more money, I commented about his choice to do so. His response to me was, “I work full time, and I can buy an f’ng coffee if I want to.” He was joking, but not really, and he was right.
My passion for money gets me in trouble sometimes. It is tough for me not to judge others for the choices they make with their money and life. I am working at being more mindful about this part of my life. As I mentioned in a prior post, I have made some horrible money choices, so who am I to judge! That quick interaction with my friend got me thinking about 4 reasons not to give your friends money advice.
#1: They Don’t Want To Hear It
Clearly, my friend did not want to hear my advice or clear judgment that morning, nor should he have. It was not my position to give it unsolicited. He and I have had many money conversations in the past, most of which have been initiated by him. I am happy to teach him what I know and answer his questions. But having that history does not give me carte blanche to give him advice whenever I want. I have no idea what was going on in his world that morning as he had just arrived at work. The last thing he needed or wanted to hear that morning was my judgment and advice, well-intended or not. Lesson learned!
#2: Your Values Are Not Their Values
The way that I choose to value my money is mine alone, and that is true for everyone. The things I choose to spend money on, like sports for my kids, are not the same that others would. I am sure that people I know think I am crazy for spending what I do on youth sports. But for my family, it is what we value and choose to spend money on. In my friend’s case, that morning, he valued buying a coffee, and that is his choice to make, not mine. When others make value choices that are not your own, it is easy to judge them because we see the world through our own lens. Being more mindful and allowing space between your thoughts and words can help prevent putting your foot in your mouth, as I did.
#3: You Are Not Where They Are
We are all on our own life and money journey. My friend has two young children and has made money mistakes in the past that he is now working his way out of. He and I have had many conversations along the way, and I am really proud of him and his progress. His story and journey remind me a lot of my family’s own journey, which is why I can be overly eager to offer him advice. The problem is we are at different places along our journey.
Many of the mistakes he made, I made as well. My wife and I have been able to correct those mistakes, dig ourselves out, and move closer to our end goal of financial independence. It is easy for me to be where I am and preach to him about what he should and should not do because I am not where he is, but I was! It’s hypocritical, and I need to stop doing that.
#4: It Is Not Your Money A-Hole
“I work full time.” He was right; he does work full time, and so does his wife. They work really hard to earn money for their family. It is their money, not mine. We all work hard for our money, and we all have the right to make decisions around that money that are best for our families. Advice should only be given when asked for, especially when it comes to money. I did not earn his money or any of my friends’ money. Therefore I have no say in how it is spent.
Being A Better Money Friend
That simple, less than a minute encounter with my friend and coworker taught me a lot about giving money advice to friends. I mentioned above four reasons not to give your friends money advice, but there are times when you should.
Being a better money friend means giving advice and sharing your knowledge when your friends ask for it. Moving forward, I plan to make it known that I am available to talk to about money if and when my friends want to do that. I also need to be open and honest about my money situation, including mistakes, so that they feel comfortable talking to me. Money and investing have become a passion of mine that I am eager to share. In this case, I was too eager.