DEAR HARRIETTE: I used to be the one in my friend group who paid for everything. I earned a lot more money, so whenever our group would go out, I would pick up the tab. I had no problem doing that. But times have changed. I got downsized at my job, and I don’t have enough disposable income to foot the bill anymore.
I created the expectation in the group that I take care of everything. I am embarrassed to say anything to them about it. Plus, I worry that I will lose my friends if I can’t pay for them anymore. I know that sounds weird, but I never thought about it before. What if that’s the only reason some of them have stayed my friend? I realize I’m losing confidence because of my situation. I don’t know what to do. -- Losing it All
DEAR LOSING IT ALL: Step back. Take a deep breath. Collect yourself. Your life has changed, and you need to come to terms with that. You have to own your truth before you let your friends know. There is no shame in not being able to be the bank for your friends. It was generous of you in the past, but those days are over. In terms of your concern about whether you will lose friends because your pockets aren’t as deep, watch how that unfolds. If you see that some “friends” check out after you aren’t rolling in the dough, good riddance to them. Don’t take it personally. That means you needed to weed them out anyway.
You will need to tell your friends that you can no longer pay for your get-togethers. You may be surprised to learn that some friends prefer that. Being equal to one another can be empowering to people. You do not need to feel guilty in any way for not being able to pay for the whole party.