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Friends are costly for your pocket

Friendships can be rooted in a number of different impulses be it mutual interests, sense of humour or natural compatibility. However, the pressure is on those friendships founded on financial contributions

Sandra Wekesa @AndayiSandra

It is not easy to make and maintain friends. But nowadays it has become even more difficult and an expensive affair. So much to celebrate: birthdays, engagement parties, bridal parties, weddings, baby showers, gender-reveal parties, name them. And they get louder in terms of spending. A friend’s birthday is scheduled to go down in Diani. And the friends have to board a flight, SGR for who? A baby shower at Ole Sereni, a bridal party at a lavish hotel in Naivasha.

Plus the whole world should know… hashtags #friendsforkeep #myfriendsarebetterthanyours #bossomfriends trend on social media.

However, this whole new ‘friend goals’ is putting pressure on social relations. “I once found myself in a baby shower group that honestly didn’t make sense. We were required to contribute Sh2,000 and thereafter wear an ankara outfit. I ended up leaving the group and decided not to contribute anything at all. As a struggling youth, I felt that wasting about Sh5,000, for the contribution, dress and fare wasn’t a wise decision,” Grace Akinyi says.

Dropping friends

To her, what was important was visiting the baby after delivery and gift the mother things she thought was necessary at that time. However, this wasn’t the same thought that her friends had and that is how they ended up breaking it off with her, branding her a ‘cheapskate’.

When Nzisa Ndolo was eight months pregnant, her friends organised a baby shower for her. She was overcome with joy to think her friends would go an extra mile for her. On an average, the party cost Sh80,000 minus the numerous presents she received on that day.

To her, this wasn’t a lot of money because she had been to several others that cost Sh100,000. Nzisa says almost everyone in her circle has had an event organised for them— in case one fails to contribute, she is removed from the circle. “On this day, some of my friends didn’t show up, they gave so much excuses. So, I just decided to drop them because it meant I didn’t mean anything to them,” she says.  She recalls that even those who contributed weren’t close to her or had ties with her.

And the pressure is the same for both men and women. Andrew Siro, a broadcast media consultant and influential DJ, says it’s sad that taking a lavish holiday, attending a baby shower, birthday party, or even a wedding are constantly defined as the hallmarks and social norms for celebration and interaction with each other. However, he wishes people would rather invest in business showers.

Fund your party

“We would celebrate you if it is necessary or if we have money. Better yet, we will come to the parties, especially if hosted by you. However, if we have to contribute then why don’t we rather have business showers?” he poses.

Silo believes it doesn’t make sense for someone to contribute for social events, but when one is faced with real problems, nobody is there to help. “More often than not, things take a wayward turn and suddenly the person who bought a huge double door refrigerator for his best pal’s wedding is reluctant to assist in a project that may end up spurring a global revolution that needs minor seed capital from 10 of his buddies,” he says.

According to Chris Wesonga, a sociologist at University of Nairobi, women enjoy splurging into such social events because they believe that once their turn comes, the same would be done to them. “It is okay to have such events planned, but only if you fund them on your own. But the moment people fundraise for you, it is a different matter. Friends will remember how they spent, say Sh10,000 for you, and would watch how you contribute for them when their time comes,” he says.

Millennials, Wesonga says, should understand that it is okay not to keep up with everything  they see on social media. “This helps you to lead a peaceful life and avoid stress just because you can’t meet up with your peers,” he concludes.

Plus it can be difficult to keep  such friends if you are trying to improve your finances. When you talk about investing, they talk about spending. Trying to keep up with these friends can have you living life on the edge of bankruptcy. These kind of friends affect your finances because they keep you spending money, even money that you don’t have. Debt is often part of this type of social equation. You’ll never be able to earn enough money, so you borrow what you don’t have. Before you know it, you’re on a debt treadmill that you can’t get off.

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