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As we grow up, there’ll come a time when we ask ourselves: “am I spending too much on my friends? Is there a limit as to how much should go into a birthday gift?”
Thankfully, famous Chinese businessman Li Ka Shing has a formula:
Your Salary x 20% = How much you should spend on friends
So, if you make $500 a week, then you should be spending $100 of that on friends. That’s a lot!
Truth is, Li Ka Shing (being a businessman) is treating that $100 like an investment. He goes on to say that, “you should spend on people who are more knowledgeable that you, richer than you, or who helped you in your career.”
Okay, but what about the rest of us who don’t necessarily want anything out of our friends?
For me, my rule of thumb is: Usually $25, and up to $75 for close friends.
Is this rule of thumb reliable?
Of course, this really depends on a few things, like:
- What’s customary in your circle of friends? Your age and social status may affect how much you should give.
- What’s the occasion? If it’s just a night out on town, don’t go beyond $25. If your friends typically order alcohol and it drives up the bill, be selective on which nights you hang out on. If we’re talking about gifts, you might give less on birthdays than you would for a wedding gift.
- How close are you to that person? I’ve kinda touched on this already, but obviously I’m willing to spend more on closer friends than I am with people I’ve just met.
- Is your friend conscious about gift prices? Different strokes for different folks, they say. You’d probably be willing to splash out a bit more on a friend who’s more materialistic. For someone less into the glitz, you might make be able to make a card or some sort of craft work for them.
Unfortunately, this is not a question with a clear cut answer. You’ve heard my rules of thumb, but you have to come up with your own.
I know, I know – it’s not easy. On one hand you want to show your friends that you’re sincere. On the other hand, all these little “events” and dinners can add up.
One thing you might want to do is try to change the culture in your friend group. Of course this requires a difficult conversation, but you might surprise yourself – your friends might be all thinking the same thing, just that they’re not willing to talk about it!
If you’re not willing to make you feelings known, I suggest you do this:
If you’re unique, your friends won’t care how much you’re spending. Because your effort shines through it all.
Throw an intimate get together – Instead of going out on the town, start a little earlier and have a picnic at the park! Or play the “generous host” and have everyone over at yours for a potluck! You can save heaps this way.
Save money, spend time – If you’re giving gifts, why not try some crafts? There are loads of free instructions online. Or, if you wanna go all the way, you can take an online course to learn some craft skills that you can use again and again. For example, check out this sick origami course for just $10.
Set aside some dough for when you really need to spend – Having a “spend on friends” fund can take the sting out of blowing a wad of cash on a single dinner, or gift. Put away a % of your salary each month for friends (kind of like that formula at the start of the article.)
Because you’ve set aside money for that purpose, it’ll be easier for you to apportion a bit of the fund to pay for your friend’s do.
Things to buy for your friend
If you’d like to buy something for your friend, then here’s a list of 23 things that you can get as a gift for your friend. I’ve kept everything under $25 according to my rule of thumb:
|For the partying friend||This is great if you’re going for a barbecue birthday party! It’s cheap, novel and practical! If you have a friend who likes cracking a cold one with the boys/girls, then these bottle-opener rings will let them open bottles with a flick of the hand. You can bet that’ll come in handy!|
|For the adventurous friend||Got a friend that loves adventure? This waterproof dry bag will be really useful if they’re into water sports or have to brave torrential storms! It keeps your phone safe in up to 98 feet of water. Did we mention that it’s only $6?!|
|For the friend that’s on-the-go||Okay, not every exciting. You’re probably thinking: phone holder in your air con vent that’s so 90’s! But wait – this one is purely magnetic. So you don’t have to fiddle about with your phone holder. If you’ve got a friend that needs to take calls in the car, then this would be a great gift! Talk about convenience!|
|For the friend who likes to sleep in||Had a friend who lives in an apartment near the street? Or one that just likes to sleep in? Get this for your friend to help them block out all the annoying lights in their room. They’ll thank you for their beauty sleep!|
|For the festival-going friend||Something fun for the summer! These heart-shaped glasses make everything seem lovely. Would be great if you know your friend is into music festivals!|
|For the one with 9 cats||Ever heard something being described as “so cute, that I could eat it?.” Well, if you have a friend with super cute animals, you can get them this pet bed that makes it look like they’re being eaten – it’s super cute!|
|For the paranoid friend||There’s been news of people going around with portable credit card readers on trains and buses. They walk up near someone’s backpocket or purse and charge the victim’s credit card for tens or hundreds of dollars! This would be super useful for your extra security-conscious friend!|
|For the domestic friend||This is something fun for your friend who needs something to keep their door open (or closed if they don’t have a lock)! I just love how novel and interesting this door stopper is!|
|For the friend who likes to kick back and relax||Nothing says “vacation” like a foot hammock! Maybe your friend already has a super comfy deck chair that they like, or maybe they’re a bit uncoordinated and can’t get in/out of a proper hammock. Well, this is surely a great gift for them!|
|For the one who’s got a pimped out bathroom||Have a friend with just tons and tons of stuff in their bathroom? This will help if they don’t have much shelf space and need a place for their toner, exfoliator, lotion, magazines – you name it!|
|For the clumsy friend||These are becoming quite popular and would be a great gift for a friend who is constantly dropping his/her phone! It’ll help you keep a grip on your phone, and can be used as a stand when you set it down on the table!|
|For the one who needs their protein||Have a friend who loves cooking? Or maybe they have kids that they’d like to make eggs for. This egg cooker makes cooking and eating eggs overly easy. It looks super cute too!|
|For the fussy friend||Got a fussy friend who’d like to make their food taste better? Get them these Mberry tablets that will change the taste of their food! It’s even been featured on Dr. Oz, CNN and the New York Times!|
|For the friend who has 10 cats||We all know how much cats love lazing in the sun. If you’ve got a cat-lover friend, then you should get them this bed that sticks to a window. Their cat will always have a front-row view of the outside world!|
|For the tech-savvy friend||This will allow your friend to connect to their phone and any computer. It’s great for people who regularly upload photos to their computer or vice versa!|
|For the beautiful friend||Both guys and girls know who important it is to exfoliate their skin. This helps to reduce the liklihood of developing blackheads and pimples. Get this for a friend who treasures their appearance and who’d love to make exfoliating fun!|
|For the friend with wanderlust||Got a friend with tons of gadgets and is constantly having to switch out plugs just so they can charge and run everything while on vacation/business? This little device is a super portable multi-board that will allow them to run all their devices at once!|
|For the friend who’s ready for the beach!||Another great gift for the summer! I just love the stripy and bright colors on these towels! Microfiber is all the rage now given it’s superb ability to soak up water. And it feels great!|
|For the friend who can’t be seperated from their phone||Rather boring, but highly practical. Especially if you have a friend who loves using their phone – texting all the time, surfing the net etc. This way, their phone will always make it through the day!|
|For the friend who’s still a kid||Who didn’t want to have their own slushie maker as a kid? If you’ve got a friend who has kids, or is still a kid at hear, then get them this to cool off and make slushies!|
|For the friend who loves rocking out outside||Some people really love their music, and while they’d love to wear headphones that give them a big, full bodied sound, they’d rather not have it hanging around their neck when they’re not using it. This is the perfect solution because it’s a good pair of headphones that your friend can easily put away.|
|For the friend who loves rocking out in the shower||Have a rockstar in your friend group? Or maybe you know that they love singing in the shower? This is a great option for such a friend! They get to play their tunes without having to worry about getting their electronics wet! At $25, I reckon it’s a bargain!|
|For the stressed out friend who needs to relax||Got a friend that constantly asks for you to give them a shoulder/neck/back massage? Now they can do it themselves! Whenever they want, whereever they want! This device works out your muscle knots. Great for stress relieving!|
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a birthday hater. I view these occasions as an opportunity to spend time with friends. A birthday celebration is not an ego-centric, attention craving event. It is a chance for all of us to get together and honor our friendship. All I want is to be reasonable about it.
I would never put a price tag on a friendship. Nevertheless, I do want to let my friends know this:
“Money can buy you company, not friends.”