While you may have been taught that it’s impolite to talk about money, there are times when not having an open conversation is the problem. If you have experienced tension with a friend who’s more frugal than you are, here are some suggestions to help the friendship survive:

  • Be clear about expectations. When you invite the friend to brunch, say at the outset that you’d like to split the check evenly. When taking contributions for a group gift, mention a specific baseline amount. Your friend can then decide whether they can comfortably participate.
  • Vary activity expense levels. Rather than always meeting your friend for expensive dinners, mix it up so that it’s sometimes breakfast, a cheaper happy hour, or even a potluck dinner. Suggest fun and free adventures like hiking or a picnic mixed in among spa days and concert tickets.
  • Let them take the lead. Take turns planning so your friend has equal opportunities to suggest activities that fit within their budget.

It’s never a good idea to assume you know all about your friend’s financial situation or judge whether they’re being frugal or simply “cheap.” Money is something many people have trouble talking about. And keeping score can turn a friendship into more of a business transaction, which is a pretty good way for everyone to be left with hurt feelings.