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How To Combine Friendship And Money Together

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“Friendship and money: oil and water,” said Mario Puzo, the man who wrote the ultimate tribute to transactional relationships and offers that could not be refused for very very good reasons. A book also known as The Godfather.

In a lot of ways our relationship with money influences our relationships with people. If the first one is healthy, there is a very good chance that the positivity will percolate down to our dealings with others.

This is Rakesh and today on our ongoing Friendship Week podcast series, we will discuss our equation with money and yes, friends. And yes, even those flamboyant friends of ours we call Credit Cards.

Is transaction a bad word?

Maybe not. Money is about give and take. As are relationships, or are they? At some level they are even if what we transact in is not exactly money but sentiments and sometimes even the sense of well-being and security that money can provide.

Many of us have a very troubled relationship with money that veers from monastic and joyless penny pinching to excessive and compulsive spending. In friendships too, we often make mistakes when we withhold affection or spend emotions to the point of exhaustion. Moderation hence is the key for a well-balanced life. There are a few things to remember if we don’t want to hear the dreaded words, “Your transaction could not be completed.”

It makes sense to not expend limited financial and emotional resources we don’t have.The culture of credit cards however has fundamentally changed how we spend money. Before the advent of credit cards, we could not really spend money we did not have on an impulse. In 2016, Time did not an entire feature on credit card etiquette that we could all do well to get on board with.

And strangely enough, most of the tips also apply to friendships.

Like the first one that writer Taylor Tepper suggests..

Don’t Just Pick Any Card. Makes sense right? Don’t just pick any friend either. In financial transactions and relationships, there are hidden costs and red flags that must never be ignored.

Tepper tries to also explain that while a good credit score goes a long way in paving the way for bigger financial benefits like procuring a big loan, and rewarding you with perks like cash back rebates and frequent flyer miles, the misuse of credit cards can bring the looming shadow of debt in your life. He suggests a research of Credit Cards rankings before you pick one or few because there are many kinds of cards and each one can serve a specific role according to what is needed.

Just as in life, you will rarely find one friend who will be your 2 am crisis solver, your movie buddy, your gossip confidante, your favourite coffee date and your trekking, pottery, yoga or pizza binge partner, the same way you have to figure out just what exactly are you looking for primarily in a card. Or if there is another one that will be a better fit.

Most often, stories of trustworthiness or otherwise precede a person and similarly a good or bad credit score can make a huge difference in future financial dealings and it makes sense to keep a check on your credit history. As Tepper says, “Credit cards with premier terms and rewards are targeted to those with the best credit. That’s why it’s important to have a sense of how a prospective issuer would view your qualifications. Borrower, know thyself.”

Another tip Tepper offers is to mind the length of your credit history. Simply put, while a longer credit history helps improve your score. A closed card means you’re lowering your available credit limit, according to the article.

Tepper also thinks cards should not be flashed indiscriminately. He suggests and we quote, “Do Use the Right Card at the Right Place and Time.”

If this is not a perfect life lesson for managing interpersonal relationships too, we don’t know what is. To be in harmony and in sync with a person is the key to a lasting friendship where the timing is always perfect.

In monetary terms, says Tepper, “you need a certain amount of constant vigilance to take advantage of a rewards card.” Unquote. There are cards that are good for getting cash back benefits on basic stuff like groceries, others offer cash back on online shoppings and restaurants and then there are those that serve you best while making big purchases or you can go for the one that serves you better on a short term basis. And when you have accumulated enough rewards in your kitty, don’t forget to use them.

Don’t Carry a Balance, is Tepper’s next advice.

Holds true for friendships too. It is unhealthy to lend money to borrow money from friends compulsively and habitually and not keep a track of the balance or imbalance.

In strictly a financial context, says Tepper, “A credit card is an unsecured loan. If you don’t pay off your card every month, you have to pay interest on the amount you owe. Ballooning card debt is a problem that is likely to affect you at one point in your life–no matter what you earn.”

Makes sense hence to not miss your payments or you could even pay part of your bill on time, and carry a balance, rather than skipping the payment entirely. That way you could avoid a late payment fee. But why accrue balance when you can get a good credit rating by being prompt with your payments? Figure out also if there is way to ask for lattitude in terms and conditions or some kind for redressal. Do your research and ask for what you don’t know. As they say, if you don’t ask, the answer is always , ‘No.’

Also try to find out, says Tepper, if you can sign up for a card that offers excellent balance transfer terms, that is if you can move your debt from an old credit card onto a new one.

Also maxing out your credit limit every month is financially unhealthy. So again, moderation is the answer.

Another tip worth considering is the use of a travel card while travelling overseas as many regular cards charge steep foreign transaction fees.

Speaking of vacations and travel, MoneyControl in the past has posted a piece about how to plan a vacation within budget. The first rule being of course that one must stick to a budget that includes not just flight tickets, hotel and sightseeing expenses but also enough set aside for meals, snacks, last-mile travel expenses, souvenirs, shopping, and a small emergency fund.

Another money saving vacation tip is to choose an accommodation, that is located close to most of the areas you plan to visit. This saves time and the cost of commuting. Hidden benefits like free breakfast; free Wi-Fi, access to the kitchen or a microwave oven in your room etc are great money saving amenities.

Travelling off season, using up airline miles and hotel loyalty programs, enjoying free or subsidised activities is good for the travelling soul and the pocket as well.

Asking locals, researching a place online and regional apps can give enough information about how to experience a destination’s food and non touristy spots in an authentic and inexpensive way. The MoneyControl article also suggests that you opt for late-night flights and trains to cut travelling costs.

Destination hopping also expends more money and is not as rewarding as experiencing a fewer places in depth.

Another MoneyControl piece suggests small and effective ways to save money right at home.

From saving change in a piggy bank, sharing

transport costs with friends, carrying your own water bottle everywhere, using public transport whenever possible, choosing a lunch date with friends over dinner that usually costs more or enjoying a pot luck and movie night at home are some of the many ways in which you can save money and spend it on more rewarding experiences.

Weekends spent at malls are a surefire way to burn a large hole in your pocket given the ticket prices at multiplexes, multiple indulgences like meals, beverages and impulse buys that you don’t need but want just because they are calling your name from the other end of the display window .

Online shopping is no less addictive. A good way to keep a track of expenses is to make a list every month to include what you need and and stuff that you want. Then look for the best and smartest options that are not wasteful and also serve you best.

Decluttering your home, and selling objects you don’t need also makes way for the some extra cash and something new.

Another big money saver is refinancing high cost loans with a cheaper options.

Now that we have spoken enough about some hard, cold facts about money, let us figure just how it impacts our social life.

How does money affect us and those close to us?

Remember F.R.I.E.N.D.S, the iconic sitcom from the nineties? So many moments in the narrative across ten seasons revolved around money. How to earn it, spend it. save it, split it across restaurant tables and to not flaunt it in the face of friends who were not as doing as well as the others.

Even in the closest of relationships, money can be a contentious issue because it is so often tied up with how we see ourselves.

Here are a few fail safe ways to ensure that your money manners around friends are pitch perfect.

1. Among friends of various financial backgrounds , it is essential that any plans for socialisation, travelling etc are not insensitive to those with less spending power. Spending money on friends who cannot afford what you can, can make you feel good for a while but it can grow into a one-sided, potentially resentful equation. Having a good time together does not have to be expensive. Splitting bills at restaurants can be stressful but a few ground rules can avoid a lot of heart burn. So figure out before hand a way that is agreeable to everyone instead of arguing when the waiter brings the bill to your table.

2. If a friend has a different financial life than yours, if they save more, or spend more on certain things and less on others, it is their business. Many friendships fall apart when people assume that they are qualified to judge someone’s bank statement or credit card bill. Unless , you are orchestrating an intervention to save a person from a chronic self-harm, don’t tell them how to spend their money or how to earn more. Money means different things to different people. As does friendship and we cannot impose our ideas about either on even those we love the most.

3. Gifting can be a contentious issue. In many friendships, gifts are reciprocated in equal measure and it doesn’t make sense to shower a friend who is struggling financially with wasteful, showy gifts they have no use for. Thoughtfulness is inexpensive, as is care. When friends pool in money for a big gifts, it makes sense to not impose a blanket amount on everyone and let people contribute what they want. And as we said earlier, lending money and borrowing without keeping a track of the numbers is just not conducive to happy bonds.

4. Not taking advantage of each other professionally is another ground rule so when we use the services of a friend, paying them well is a must. Paying each other fairly for services extended be it a fitness session, a design consultancy or help with accountancy etc goes a long way in establishing wholesome boundaries.

5. Don’t ask personal questions about finances or flaunt your own. It just amounts to bad taste.

A real friendship is not based on how much you have in your bank amount or what you spent on your new car or house. Trust us, nobody wants to know the details. People who are constantly talking about their assets or money or foreign holidays in general are not very nice to be around. Nor are those who pointedly ask you questions about your salary , or if the house you live in is rented or not, why don’t you buy a car, well, you get the picture.

6. Don’t bring money, the excess or lack of it in every conversation. Share your financial troubles with only those who you trust to give you the right advice and those who are discreet about money matters.

Know what you want and get to your personal and financial goals systematically

Businessman, motivational speaker and author of “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, ” T. Harv Eker says that the number one reason most people don’t get what they want is that they don’t know what they want.”

Lack of clarity is the number one reason that creates confusion in all aspects of life. A Business Insider article conveys Eker’s money rules thus, “ Before you can achieve anything, you have to know exactly what it is that you want to achieve.

When it comes to building wealth, start with visualizing a savings goal with a specific price tag. Be realistic when setting a time frame to attain these goals, but at the same time, think big and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Next, form a financial plan and determine exactly where you want your money to go.”

And that brings us back to the conversation we began this podcast with.

Build positive relationships, be it with people or with money

And it begins with a positive mindset. Speaker and author Steve Siebold believes and we quote,”Getting rich begins with the way you think and what you believe about making money … Let’s set the record straight once and for all: Anyone can become wealthy.” Unquote.

The point is not just how we make friends or money but how we manage, save and invest in both.

At the end of the day as Thomas Fuller said, “They are rich who have true friends.”

But we say, a happy financial life will go a long way in enriching your life in more ways than one.

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