Times are getting tougher, and we’ve discussed how it feels to be the broke friend. With friends who earn significantly more or have a higher purchasing power, social anxiety is common. But what does it feel like to be the rich friend?

Five Nigerians who are the top earners in their friend circles discussed with us what it’s like to be the rich person among friends. 

I can’t complain when I’m broke because they don’t take me seriously 

— Tessy, 24*

I earn more than all my friends. Half the time it feels really awkward to talk about money. Sometimes when I buy something expensive, I don’t tell them the price because I know how they’ll react. They’re often shocked or they may launch into a lecture on how they would have gone for a cheaper option. I also can’t complain when I’m broke because they don’t take me seriously. Only a few friends understand that I use a percentage of my salary and save the rest.

The hardest part is saying no when they ask for money. I give money to my friends but sometimes the amounts they ask for are outrageous. And I also have to take care of my family first. I lost a friend recently because I didn’t loan him $1000. I didn’t know how to say no at first so I promised I’d send him some money. Then I ran out of cash and couldn’t send him anything at all. He deleted my number.

“We made it clear to never throw money at anyone”

— Shola, 27

My best friend isn’t poor, neither am I exactly rich, but I earn significantly more than him.. We’re both on the way to financial freedom and we’re not afraid to have difficult conversations about money. When I buy something expensive for myself, he never judges me. We also gift each another occasionally. We made it clear to ourselves to never throw money at anyone. So I don’t think he feels entitled to my money. When I lend him money, he typically pays back. When I can afford it, I give cash gifts which he appreciates. He also buys gifts for me ocassionally. I’m lucky to have him as a friend and I’m rooting for us. We’re both gonna make it.

“I now outsource things I once did with my friends”

— Damilola, 30*

In university, my clique used to do almost everything together. We’d eat together and do chores together. After university, we still sort of did stuff together as our friendship continued; all of us five friends — except one — live around the same area in Lagos. But things started to change when I got a new remote job and a massive increase in my finances. My job these days demands most of my time and I can’t hang out with my gees like before. I moved out to a more comfortable apartment, so I can no longer visit my guys to eat or do laundry together, because I now outsource those chores. I now pay someone to clean my house. I also noticed that they visit me way more often than I visit them. Due to work, I’m making new friends who have money and it feels like I’m outgrowing them even if I don’t want to. I feel guilty because throwing money at them won’t make it better — I’m comfortable but I couldn’t even afford to lift them out of the trenches even if I wanted to (we joke about this sometimes but it doesn’t make it feel less weird). I really hope they level up soon so we can all make it together.

“If someone borrows money from me, I’m not afraid to ask for it”

Precious, 34

Before, I used to spend and spend until I got broke because I didn’t want anybody to think I was stingy. But I’ve learned the art of saying no the hard way. This means I have to set clear expectations. I always plan on how much I’m going to spend. And if someone borrows money from me, I’m not afraid to ask for it. I explain my financial situation to close friends. Anyone that doesn’t understand isn’t my friend.

“It feels like I’m only just maintaining most people’s loyalty with money”

Dike*, 63

I’m retired and people don’t understand that I don’t have as much money as I once did when I was employed. I’m now a business owner, and while I get cool passive income normally, once in a while business hits hard times. But people always want to take and take, afterall, I’m a big man. Sometimes, I get really frustrated at how people are entitled to my money — money that I worked for with sweat and blood. It feels like I don’t have any genuine friends and I’m only just buying most people’s loyalty with money. Anyway, I’ve made my peace with it. Nigeria is hard on us all but is harder on others, so I will continue to give as much as I can.


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