Do You Judge Your Friend’s Spending Habits?

My friend is a single mom of three who earns minimum wage and can barely make her mortgage payments. And yet she buys organic fruit, veggies, dairy and meat – which is such a waste of money! According to me, of course – not according to her. For years I couldn’t stop judging my friend’s spending habits. I kept thinking, “If she didn’t spend so much money on organic groceries, she’d have money for more important things!”

And then she received a $2,000 financial gift. She decided to use the money to landscape her front yard. She’d been daydreaming for years about a small cottage garden; this was a dream come true for her. Instead of being happy that my friend received an unexpected financial gift and was using it to make her dreams come true, I was angry and frustrated. And I felt horrible.

What judgements do you make about your friend’s spending habits? Maybe you think your best friend wastes money on video games, clothes, cars, makeup, gambling or her appearance. Maybe a school friend spends too much money on the latest tech trends. Maybe a work friend or colleague wastes money on office supplies or a project’s budget. Maybe you’re even a critical Christian who judges your fellow Christian friends.

If you struggle with self-loathing and self-disgust because you can’t stop judging your friend’s financial decisions, you are not alone. Even better, you don’t have to keep being so judgmental! After I stomped home from my friend’s place after finding out about the financial gift and her plans on how she would spend that free money, I did a “Judge Your Neighbor” Worksheet.

Fifteen minutes later I realized the true cause of my frustration, anger, and self-disgust. It wasn’t my friend’s spending habits, or the financial gift, or her dream of landscaping a new front yard. It was the fact that I have dreams. I have enough money to make them come true. And I choose not to.

Here’s how I questioned my thoughts and beliefs, and how I stopped judging my friend for her financial decisions. I find freedom – and I also realized that it’s time to follow my own dreams and goals. Bliss, joy, peace and love! It is simply amazing, how the truth sets us free.

Do You Judge Your Friend’s Spending Habits? Loving What Is
Do You Judge Your Friend’s Spending Habits?

How to Stop Judging Your Friend’s Spending Habits and Financial Decisions

Reading Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie taught me that I’ll always have thoughts, beliefs and feelings. They come and go – even the worst ones. Just because I have a thought doesn’t mean I have to believe it, or even get upset about it. I can think “my friend is wasting her money” or even “my boyfriend has bad spending habits.”

Having thoughts is normal and fine. The problem – and suffering – comes when we believe what we think without questioning it. Here is how I questioned my thoughts about my friend’s spending habits…and how I learned how to let go of all judgments about her financial decisions.

The first six questions are from Katie’s “Judge Your Neighbor” Worksheet. 

1. How does your friend anger, confuse, or disappoint you, and why? 

I am frustrated and disappointed with my friend because she got a free financial gift and is spending it on front yard landscaping. I think she should have better, bigger dreams! And she should use her money for more important, practical things.

2. How do you want your friend to change? What do you want her to do? 

I want my friend to spend her money on something more important. She should buy things that are more useful than a garden. I want my friend to have more interesting and exciting dreams for her life.

3. What financial advice would you offer your friend? 

Make better financial decisions! Spend your money on things that matter, that are valuable. Don’t ask me what you should buy, because I don’t know. All I know is you shouldn’t spend your money the way you are.

4. For you to be happy in this situation, what do you need your friend to think, say, feel, or do? 

I need my friend to be more adventurous, interesting, and dynamic. I need her to talk about more interesting things and be more fun.

5. What do you think of your friend and her spending habits?

My friend is boring, uncreative, old, and not as exciting as she should be. Her dreams are too little and average. (Yes, I am being petty and judgmental! It feels horrible but the truth unleashes and frees the ego. Being completely truthful clears out the negative emotions and helps me find freedom).

6. What about your friend do you never want to experience again?

I don’t ever want to talk to my friend again – especially about her finances – because I hate how I feel. I get frustrated and angry, and I hate myself. I don’t want to feel so judgmental, smug, superior and awful.

Ouch! It’s not pretty, but that is how I feel about my friend’s spending habits. The more I do The Work the more I realize how important it is to be as honest as possible. The truth really does set us free…if we stay focused on it.

For each of the six statements above, The Work asks four questions.

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

And then comes the turnaround.

1. How do your friend’s spending habits make you feel? 

I feel frustrated and disappointed. I think she should have better, bigger dreams! And she should use her money for more important, practical things.

  1. Is it true? When I get still and wait for an honest yes or no from within to rise, I think “no.” It is not true that my friend should stop spending her money on organic groceries and front yard landscaping. When I listen for my own truth, I know that my friend’s spending habits are none of my business.
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? No, it is not true that my friend should spend her money the way I think she should. The reality is that she is spending her money the way she wants…who am I to judge her for making her own financial decisions?
  3. How do you react when you believe your friend is wasting her money? Does that thought bring peace or stress into my life? Stress, definitely! I want to isolate myself from her, to never spend time with her, and to withdraw. I feel frustrated and disappointed. I don’t like her or myself. I also feel angry that my friend is making bad financial decisions.
  4. Who would you be without the thought? Without my judgments, I would be so happy for my friend! Her dream of having a cottage garden in the front yard are coming true – that’s amazing! And she got a financial gift so it doesn’t even have to cost her anything out of her paycheck. Also, I’d be happy for the neighborhood, that it would be beautified by one more pretty garden. I would just be so happy for everyone – even the landscaper she is hiring to do the garden 🙂

2. How do you want your friend to change?

I want my friend to spend her money on something more important. She should buy things that are more useful than a garden. I want my friend to have more interesting and exciting dreams for her life.

  1. Is it true? No. I don’t want her to change. I want my friend to be who she is and spend her money the way that makes her happy.

Technically, I’m supposed to go through each of the six “Judge Your Neighbor” questions in the same way (like I did with When You Live With a Moody Husband – Loving What Is). I wrote my answers in my journal, but I don’t have to type it all here. The answers are all the same; it only took the first question for me to realize that I don’t want to be in charge of my friend’s spending habits! I don’t want to keep judging my friend’s financial decisions.

When I realized how happy I’d be for my friend – that she has dreams, that her dreams are coming true, and that she has free money to make her dreams come true! – I suddenly felt free. I suddenly felt light, happy, and more me.

My true self is being happy for my friend.

Now for the turnarounds…

The turnarounds rest on the idea that an idea, or a thought, however true it may sound to you, could be at least as true — or even more true — if you consider the exact opposite thought. The turnarounds include Self, Other, and Opposite.

1. Who angers, confuses, or disappoints you, and why? 

Turnaround: I am frustrated and disappointed with myself because I have money saved up and I’m not spending it on my dreams. I don’t even need a financial gift. I have travel dreams, which I even wrote about in How to Make Your RV Retirement Dreams Come True.

This was a shocking, painful realization for me. I was so busy judging my friend for how she spends her money, I couldn’t even see that I’m not spending my own money on my own dreams! I was in her business…and nobody was taking care of my business. When I’m in my friend’s business, judging and planning her financial decisions, I abandon me.

2. How do you want to change? What do you need to do? 

Turnaround: I want myself to spend my money on something more important. I should buy things that are more useful than a garden. I want myself to have more interesting and exciting dreams for my life.

3. What advice would you give yourself? 

Turnaround: Make better financial decisions for my life. Spend my money on things that matter to me, that are valuable and meaningful.

4. In order to be happy, what do you need to think, say, feel, or do? 

Turnaround: I need me to be more adventurous, interesting, and dynamic. I need me to talk about more interesting things and be more fun. I want me to have bigger, more exciting and interesting dreams. I want to use my money more creatively; I want to live the life I think I should live.

5. What do you think of yourself in this situation?

Turnaround: I am boring, uncreative, old, and not as exciting as I should be. My dreams are too little and average.

What I learned when I questioned my thoughts

As soon as I realized that the time I spent judging my friend for her spending habits was taking time and energy from my own life, I lost the will to judge her. I realized that I was abandoning me and my own dreams when I spent time and energy judging her financial decisions and dreams.

I also realized how much joy and beauty arises when someone landscapes her front yard! She is contributing to the beauty of the entire neighborhood. She is making passersby happy. She is hiring a local landscaper who could really use the extra income.

Doing The Work and the “Judge Your Neighbor” worksheet was humbling, and freeing. I still can’t believe how much lighter and happier I feel. And it’s not just this one friend that I treat differently. Another friend called me today; my old judgements about her have fallen away. I lost the will to judge. For now, anyway. And when I feel like judging my friends on how they spend their money or live their lives, I will come back and do The Work again. And I will be free.

Your turn

Your friend’s money or spending habits aren’t causing the problem. Your thoughts and beliefs about how your friend should and should not spend money is the problem. Can you see that? It’s more powerful if you do The Work on your own…but I hope seeing my process helps you become free of your own judgments.

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life

“Without our stories, we are not only able to act clearly and fearlessly; we are also a friend, a listener,” writes Byron Katie in Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life. “We are people living happy lives. We are appreciation and gratitude that have become as natural as breath itself. Happiness is the natural state for someone who knows that there’s nothing to know and that we already have everything we need, right here now.”

If you’re still looking for tips on how to stop judging your friends, read How to Stop Being a Toxic Girlfriend.

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