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Money & Friends

Money & Friends


Dear Rachel,

I recently lost my job and am struggling terribly financially. I am a single mother to two young children and have virtually no savings. Meanwhile, my best friend for many years got married not long ago to a very wealthy man. While I can barely pay rent, they are jet setting around the world and she is constantly telling me of all her new gifts and purchases. She has always been so helpful and generous but now that she is married she isn't doing anything to help me. I feel like I can't keep talking to her and pretending like nothing is wrong. What should I do?


Dear Broke,

There is nothing more uncomfortable or trickier in a relationship then when money comes into the picture. And this situation is all the more complicated because it sounds like the new found money is not your friend's as much as it is her new husband's. So you are really dealing with a few different situations here. Firstly, your best friend is recently married which is automatically going to change the dynamics of your friendship somewhat. Secondly, you recently lost your job which changes your situation and needs. Thirdly, your friend is now living a different lifestyle because of her new financial status, which coincides with the very same time you are in need of financial help.

She is excited and wants to share with you- not necessarily show offBefore we actually even discuss your need for money, let's talk about your friend and her marriage. Think about things from her point of view. She just got married. This is a huge transition for her. In addition, she is living a lifestyle much more extravagant than she has ever lived before. You are her best friend. She is excited and wants to share with you- not necessarily show off. And so she is speaking to you.

I imagine if your situation was different right now you would be thrilled to be speaking with her and would be upset if she didn't share every detail with you. And so, as her best friend, you should try to be happy for her good fortune and her happiness and marriage, even though you are going through a tough time. I know it is difficult, but see if you can focus on being her friend and giving her what she needs right now- which is your support, friendship, love and even an ear.

At the same time, she is your best friend. Which means you should be able to speak with her openly and honestly as well. If you cannot afford your food bills and she is traipsing around the world, she needs to be sensitive to your needs and your situation. But one thing should be made clear: the fact that she married someone wealthy should not in any way mean that her new husband should feel obligated to help you financially. That is something that could come across as very awkward and could put strain into their marriage, which is completely unfair. If he were to offer on his own, that would be one thing, but it is not something you should expect or feel upset if it is never offered.

Tell her about what you are going throughYou say that your friend has always been helpful and generous. So now you need her help. Tell her about what you are going through and ask her for suggestions and support. Maybe she can help babysit your kids or help you look for a job or lend you some of her great outfits for an interview. There are many things she can do to help you out that do not require her giving you a penny. But you need to confide in her and seek her guidance and support. Perhaps she is not at all aware of just how bad things really are for you. Maybe it is because you haven't really told her. Or maybe it is because she has been too busy with her new husband and her trips to notice, but as her best friend, you should set aside some quality time and have a real heart to heart.

Right now you are struggling with not having the money that you need. What a shame if her having money comes between you. Focus on your friendship and the person you know she is. Talk to her of your struggles as you would about any other situation. And be there for her in her new marriage as she needs you as well. I have no doubt that if she is the friend you say she is she will help you out however she can.

And use this opportunity to recognize not only your needs but the needs of others who are struggling. You can still help, even if not financially. Donate the clothes your children have outgrown, volunteer, give away the cans of food that you are not using, etc. And pray that others who are in need of money be blessed with financial stability and success.

Torah teaches us that when we pray for another who has similar needs, G‑d – so touched that we are praying about others, though we have the same needs – responds to our own needs first. So be happy for your friend and pray for her wellbeing. And she should pray for yours. And both of your prayers should be answered!


"Dear Rachel" is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sara Esther Crispe.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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Anonymous San Francisco, Ca via May 26, 2013

broke I'm pretty sure it's not so easy to get financial help when you're down. But yes, Broke should look for this, and any other help/support. I agree that the friend sounds really selfish & unconscious... this is generally the way the rich are, and studies have shown that the poor in fact are more generous than the rich. This rich friend needs to be educated. The suggestions were good, as far as explaining her present reality to this rich friend and making an opening by asking for suggestions & advice or even for help from this rich friend. It's not so easy to elicit empathy from someone in a completely different reality. If she was able to be generous when she was single, she now has more ability to be generous, despite the new wealth belonging to her husband. Reply

Lisa Providence, RI January 22, 2011

Money & Friends I hope your friend didn't get married for money only - that's one of the worst mistakes people can make!

You need to talk to someone about your situation to someone you can trust. If your friend questions you, be honest, but let her know you don't want to be overly-dependent on her for your financial problems. Reply

Anonymous los angeles, usa April 25, 2010

broke I think the response is inadequate and does not address the issue. I think the neuvo-rich (spellling?) friend is insensitive and that should be the focus of the response, not being overjoyed for someone who is vain and reallly has no compession. Money sure has a way of briniging out the real personality. Reply

Anonymous April 26, 2009

Practical issue Excellent response. However, I think that it is a shame that you didn't point out that there may be resources that she could access. I don't know where Broke lives, but firstly, she should be able to get unemployment - which is not much, but it helps. In most places there are organizations that help with looking for a job, childcare if needed, and even financial assistance. There is no shame in taking this kind of help, and it would make her life so much easier. Reply

Michal germany April 22, 2009

Explaining things wonderfully... Dear Sara Esther, I found your explanations to Broke really great.
You made it so clear, that in fact she is not as miserable as she thinks. You make her understand her friend who lives in a different situation now.
What worries me: If someone is without work and has children in the United States, is there no place. which gives you the minimum of money, so that you do not have to starve??? Here there is such a place in every town. I once lived through such a time. My husband lifethreatening ill, and my children still small, so I could not go to work then. But we had something to eat, and the illness of my husband was my only worry. And I knew Hashem was with us.
So it did not interest me, how the rest of the world lived. Shalom lach! Reply

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