Jun 17

Top 10 Reasons Friends With Debt Are No Fun!

friend debtWhen I was in debt, I wasn’t a lot of fun to be around. I’d like to think I’ve always been a good friend, but the debt definitely impacted my emotions and tainted my outlook on life. Let’s be honest, It’s hard to be happy when you’re suffocating under a $30k “debt blanket”.

Now that all of my student loans are paid in full I often think to myself, “Why did anybody want to be my friend when I was in debt?”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was moping around the house with my head down, wearing dark glasses and listening to Eleanor Rigby on auto replay. But I did become infinitely more positive when the debt was finally gone. My friends would never call me “bubbly” or “cheerful” that’s just not who I am. But I am a lot more fun to be around and considerably more grateful for all the good things I have in my life (my family, my friends, my boyfriend, my health, my pets etc. etc.) now that I can see those without my “debt perception”.

Curious what I mean? Friends with debt are no fun because…

  1. They never go out to dinner. When everybody else is making plans to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, they opt out because they’re trying to pay down their debt.
  2. They give lame birthday gifts. Or maybe they don’t give gifts at all? When I was still in debt I bought less expensive gifts and/or made homemade gifts. Were they “lame?” I hope nobody thought so. 
  3. They’re always talking about their debt. Losing debt is sort of like losing weight. When you’re in the middle of paying off debt it’s hard not to think about it all of the time. I’m sure my friends and family were totally sick of hearing me talk about how much money I’d paid down over the course of the month.
  4. They never go to happy hour. While all of their friends are headed out to happy hour, they’re headed to the train station. Drinks are an expensive luxury that you don’t need when you’re in debt. Explaining this to friends can be difficult because they don’t understand why you can’t go out for, “just one drink.”
  5. They’re always at work. Friends want to hang out, but you can’t because you’re working the weekends.  This is when people start telling you things like, “you only life once” and “it’s not that serious”. They’re wrong, it is “that serious” and once you’re out of debt (and they aren’t), they’ll probably realize they should have been at work too.
  6. They’re coupon crazed. OK, maybe this just applies to me. But when I was in debt I wouldn’t buy something unless I could get it at a deep discount, it was on sale, or I had a coupon. Everywhere I went was carefully planned. If I didn’t have a coupon, I didn’t go.
  7. They’re always reading personal finance blogs. They don’t know the latest news or the score of the game because they’re too busy reading personal finance blogs. Reading about other people’s success is addictive when you’re trying to get out of debt. I picked a few (OK a lot) of blogs written by people who’d paid down debt and focused on emulating their success. Taking advice from your broke friends is like taking diet advice from a sumo wrestler, just say no!
  8. They’re disgruntled because they can’t take a vacation. Guilty as charged! I wasn’t mad at my friends because they were taking a vacation. But I was often frustrated with myself when I couldn’t afford to take a yearly vacation somewhere warm and tropical when the snow started falling.
  9. They’re always worried about money. It takes them 45 minutes to pick out a pair of pants because they’re weighing the pros and cons of purchasing them, reading reviews online, and doing a cost comparison at 3 other stores on their phone. Every purchase big or small is a big decision when you’re in debt. This can be annoying to friends who aren’t in debt (or are and don’t care) i.e. “come on just buy them.”
  10. They have mean spirited comments about others who have money (or appear to have money). Thankfully, I don’t fit in this category, but I do know a few people who actively have disdain for peers who appear to be financially stable. There are always haters in life, but the haters don’t get ahead, so I kept my thinking positive.

What do you think? Am I missing anything from the list? Can you still be a “fun” friend when you’re in debt?


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  1. DC @ Young Adult Money

    I hope I am still a “fun” friend even though I’m in debt 😉 I think it can definitely weigh on you, though, and it’s much easier to have a positive attitude once the debt is gone! At least I can only assume.

    1. KK

      I don’t know you outside of the blogosphere, but from what I’ve read on your blog I’d say you’re still a “fun” friend. I still had plenty of fun when I was in debt and I don’t think I was a bad friend.

  2. Holly@ClubThrifty

    I have friends in debt who still spend like crazy because they’re totally oblivious! It’s hard to watch.

    1. KK

      Agreed, and sadly it doesn’t get much better the older you get (I thought it might, it hasn’t so far).

  3. Michelle

    I think I am still fun! :) Most of my friends with debt don’t really act any differently. Not sure if that is good or bad…

    1. KK

      I guess it depends on if they can afford some of the fun things that aren’t free (and if they still spend on them). It’s all about balance really. I did (and still do) lots of free things that were a lot of fun.

  4. Debt and the Girl

    I have had friends with debt and no debt and its always interesting to see their spending habits. I try to stay frugal and leave it at that. I like cheap outings and, luckily, so do most of my friends

    1. KK

      I think it’s really important to have friends who can have a good time for free. If you’re running with a crowd that spends too much and likes to go to expensive places you can blow your budget pretty quick. Thankfully most of my friends are also really frugal. You have to be when you work in social services 😉

  5. Kurt @ Money Counselor

    I tend to think it’s the friends with no debt who are less fun! Why? Because they’ve achieved that status by eating at home, not adopting expensive hobbies like golf, avoiding ‘clubbing’ and other costly forms of entertainment, etc. They maintain those habits even after paying off debt.

    Of course the problem is we unfortunately connect fun with spending money. Part of the key to financial success is uncoupling this connection and realizing loads of fun stuff is free or cheap!

    1. KK

      Definitely. Our society “teaches” us that spending money = fun. When we break that down we realize some of the best (and most fun) things in life are actually free.

  6. Ben

    The whole premise of your post seems to be that you need to spend, spend, spend in order to be fun. So you can’t be both fun and frugal? I’m not in debt and yet I rarely go out to dinner or happy hour, I give heartfelt (and yes, more inexpensive) gifts, I look for sales at the grocery store, and I read personal finance blogs (and write one). This leads to less spending and more saving. But we also invite our friends to free or inexpensive outings (see: $5 tickets to see The Moth downtown), as well as potluck dinners at our place.

    Trust me, you can have a social life, be a good friend, and work to do both without spending yourself into debt.

    1. KK

      You can totally be fun and frugal. The point of the post was to poke fun at myself for all of the reasons that my friends thought I was lame when I was in debt (well except number 10, which I mentioned). The ironic part was that once I became debt free everybody jumped on board and wanted to know the “secret” to my success. The secret was finding a balance between spending and saving and teaching myself that spending didn’t equal fun.

  7. Mrs PoP @Planting Our Pennies

    I think it depends how you look at it. I enjoy having dinner at a friend’s house more than going out – so a friend that wants to avoid restaurants would be tons of fun in my book!

    1. KK

      I totally agree with you Mrs Pop. The quiet nights I spend at home are much more enjoyable than the wild party nights I spent spending hundreds of dollars in my youth.

  8. E.M.

    This really resonates with me since most of my friends are in carefree mode – just graduated from college and all about going out and having fun. I decline more invitations than I care to count and I’ve found myself drifting apart from them. I am always up for a movie night (or another free activity) at someone’s house, but lately they’ve been occupied with going to bars, restaurants and trips that cost too much. I would like to meet new friends that have similar interests/goals but it’s difficult when I don’t want to go out!

    1. KK

      I think as you get older (I’m 30) your friends start to calm down a little and put more emphasis on saving and getting out of debt (or at least that’s my experience). Maybe look for friends a little older who are out of their party years? Or wait a couple years and your friends will probably come around 😉

  9. #Broke Millennial

    Most of my friends are in debt and it’s interesting to watch the spectrum of lifestyles. Some take out loans to supplement partying while others refuse to ever do anything fun. It’s important to find a middle ground.

    1. KK

      Agreed, balance was really the key for me. I can still go out and have a good time, but chose a moderately priced restaurant and skip the expensive drinks and deserts. Still fun, still frugal.

  10. Mike@WeOnlyDoThisOnce

    At the same time, there are many ways that people who are constricted by debt by no fault of their own can spend meaningful time with others through less expensive activities. Agreed, though!

    1. KK

      Thankfully there are a lot of free ways to have fun (I know a lot of them from my broker days) 😉

  11. Debt Blag

    Hm. I have more debt than 99% of people you know, but still prioritize some of these things in. Whether or not I’m a “fun” person is something you would have to ask my friends :)

    An added note is that some of these things might be more true if I didn’t budget, but I know that worrying about spending an extra $2 on a pair of jeans that will last a year isn’t as important when I’ve run the numbers and know I’ll have saved hundreds from my food budget by the time those jeans wear out.

    1. KK

      I’m sure you’re plenty of fun. I was still fun (or I think so) when I had debt. We just did more frugal things (house parties, dinner parties at home etc.). It’s all about making good decisions and finding balance. You save on food so you can not stress about other things (jeans purchases etc.). It’s the people who don’t find the balance who are probably no fun.

  12. anna

    I love happy hour, and will probably still like them when I get out of debt. It’s cheap food and drinks, and you get social time in, provided that you have enough self-control to budget. :) I smiled at the PF blog one, though – I think I know more about some PF’ers lives than I do real life friends these days!

    1. KK

      lol, I totally know more about some bloggers than I know about my friends. It’s funny how the Internet shapes our lives these days. I love happy hour and definitely partook in many when I was still in debt. If you find the right ones it’s actually cheaper than cooking dinner at home in some cases.

  13. Mike

    Unfortunately, you are so right about #10. Too many debtors are also “haters”!

    1. KK

      Sadly there are haters in a lot of areas of life. Gotta just keep your head up and keep plugging away.

  14. Michael @ The Student Loan Sherpa

    I think I’m guilty of some of these… then again, once I am out of debt I will be a blast to hang out with because I will know how to make my entertainment dollar go far! (I hope)

    1. KK

      I don’t necessarily see the bullets above as “bad” so don’t feel guilty! Once you’re debt free you’ll be a blast because you’ll be able to stretch your budget really far.

  15. Dante Smith


    I really loved your latest post on “Top 10 Reasons Friends With Debt Are No Fun! “. I have gone ahead and added “Student Debt Survivor” to my Flipboard. Keep writing awesome stuff, and I will keep reading it.

    1. KK

      Thanks Dante, I’ll try 😉

  16. Do or Debt

    I’m so guilty of 2,3,5 and 9! Ugh! No, it’s not fun and I still have years to go to pay off my 50k+ debt. So close to being under 50k.

  17. Canadianbudgetbinder

    I also hope we are fun to be around even though we use a budget and are thrifty and smart with out money. We might not go out and spend money on dinners every time the phone rings but we’re smart about how we spend our money. Like the POPS we’d rather go to a pot luck with a bunch of friends then a restaurant but that’s personal.

    We still use coupons even though we are essentially debt-free and will continue to use them. We love homemade gifts from friends because it shows that they put effort into it. We have friends who have tonnes of debt and although they can’t go out and spend money to have fun they taught me we don’t need to do that just to hang out and be friends. I guess it’s all about how we look at life and money and how it carries us through day to day, week to week. :) Thanks for sharing.

  18. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    LOL, I must be lucky because my BFF’s are all watching their pennies too, for different reasons, and love my frugal ways. :-). That being said, I don’t ever talk about my debt unless I’m asked, we just have an unwritten rule that spending unnecessary money needs to be kept to a minimum.

  19. Andrew@LivingRichCheaply

    #10 drives me crazy! My co-worker who is in student loan and credit card debt is always cursing the banks that he is indebted to! Nothing wrong with reading too many PF blogs or using coupons though!

  20. John S @ Frugal Rules

    I think it depends, but if they’re constantly moping about it (assuming they chose to get into the debt) then it does get to be a bit much. I know that some of these were true of me when I was in debt and had to adjust my mindset so I could live life too.

  21. Catherine

    I’m still fun!! We find ways to make up for it. The only thing we’ve excluded from is trips and shopping. I get creative with gifts that are always well received.

  22. Lauren @ Cheapstudents.ca

    Love the list, but hey if they are acting like this I guess that means they are on the path to being debt free or at least trying to. Who wants a crazy spender who’s constantly in debt but really fun all the time? They may just come to you for money at some point.

  23. Brian

    I know what you mean, when someone is weighing the pros and cons of spending money and you’re hanging out with them, its like they’re deciding whether you’re worth hanging out with! No fun.

  24. Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde)

    Great post! I am guilty of talking about debt a lot. Between being so focused on paying it down and writing the blog posts every day, it’s kind of always on my mind. :)

  25. KC @ genxfinance

    Totally, you can’t hang out with them because they don’t have the money and you can’t treat them all the time as well. Just a day after their pay day, they don’t have any money anymore. I know a few and I was one some time ago and it’s really no fun at all.

  26. David @ PBC

    Stay away from these friends. That is the solution. It is not wise to waste time hanging out with people who are deep in debt. They can be very bad examples.

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