smart spending

How to stay friends when salaries differ

Don't nurture toxic emotions
Don't nurture toxic emotions © wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock.com

Making significantly more or less than a close friend will naturally trigger some difficult emotions.

If you earn less, you may feel jealousy, inadequacy or embarrassment. While these emotions are natural, Gurney warns that harboring jealousy can lead to resentment. It's important to examine the root of these emotions. Often your issue isn't with your friend; it's with yourself, says Carole Stovall, a psychologist and executive adviser in Washington D.C.

Jealousy is "a strong signal that we have to re-evaluate the choices that we made," she says.

By analyzing the source of your jealousy, you may realize that you admire your friend's choices and decide to make a change in your life. On the flip side, you may realize that the choices you made bring you greater satisfaction, which is worth the financial trade-off.

As the wealthier friend, you may feel guilt or frustration. It's difficult to share your good news -- be it a big raise or the purchase of a new car -- without feeling bad. But if you find yourself unable to talk about anything going on in your life without feeling overwhelmed by guilt, then your friendship will certainly suffer. Stovall recommends evaluating the relationship: Is this a true friend or an acquaintance? Because with true friends, you should have the freedom to talk through these complicated emotions and find a common ground.

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