In college, everyone is poor. That makes it pretty easy to just make friends regardless of how much money one has. Sure, there are a few people who seems to have an endless supply of beer money, but they are usually the exception and not the rule.
Then comes graduation. Many of my friends had jobs waiting for them right away. Others weren’t so lucky. Some went to law or med school. She and I choose grad school.
Two college roommates/great friends had very different post-graduation financial lives. One didn’t find a job out of college, and lived at home. He eventually found a job outside of his field that didn’t pay so well; he eventually worked his way up the ranks, bought and paid for an SUV, and is now looking and saving for a house. He doesn’t go out so much to bars or restaurants, but when he does, he sticks around home in the suburbs where it isn’t so expensive.
My other friend found a really good paying job out of college. He actually bought an SUV in college when he had a high-paying internship. He travels extensively, goes out to expensive bars most nights of the week, and eats out all the time. Weirdly enough, he didn’t know what an expense ratio was when we were talking about mutual funds.
It is weird how money has changed my relationships with my friends. With the first friend, I don’t feel so…poor? uncomfortable?…when we go out. With my second friend, I sometimes feel inadequate and cheap, and that I can’t keep up. The MightyBargainHunter reminded me of an article I read this week at CNNMoney about the discrepancies of the incomes of recent college grads. From the article:
Wealth disparity can drive a wedge between even the closest friends. This is increasingly a fact of life in today’s winner-take-all economy, where some skills are in fevered demand and others are, well, not. And it can make a friendly lunch feel weird.
There is nothing wrong with either of my friends’ lifestyles, but the differences in income have dictated how they are spending (pun?) their young adult lives, and have had the potential to change the way that we all handled our relationship with each other. A few nights ago we went to an event where money wasn’t even a consideration, which gave us the opportunity to have a lot of laughs just like the old days. It reminded me that our friendship is based on everything but money.