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Smart cookies

How to deal with spendthrift friends Add to ...

Do you have a financial saboteur in your circle of friends? You know, the one who takes the liberty of ordering the most expensive bottle and then expects a 50/50 bill split, or selects a pricey spot for dinner without hearing input?

If you're not armed with a plan, a friend like this will fill you with guilt while emptying your savings account. The next time you're put in a potentially awkward and money-sucking situation, consider taking control, shifting the blame or walking away.

If you always get stuck paying more than your fair share at a restaurant, request separate cheques from the waiter in private, arrive fashionably late for just a cocktail and dessert, or take an active role up front by selecting a less expensive location. Phrase your choice as a new place you'd love to try rather than just a less expensive locale. Or consider suggesting a breakfast or lunch date: Both are usually much less expensive than dinner.

If you're not up for an expensive night, try using someone else as your excuse: Cite your money group's latest spending experiment or your overwhelming student debts as the reason you RSVP'd no. It's easier to say and to hear.

If a friend is oblivious, and you're not open to removing yourself from their influence, make them aware of your views, take an active role in planning social activities, or develop a communication style that works for you both.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group.

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