The topic of money is such a sensitive one these days. So much so that it has become taboo to talk about finances with the people around you. The purpose of this blog is to encourage openness about finances, the stock market, and other various fin tips. But what happens when you encounter a person – a friend even, who may take advantage of your enthusiasm? We call these people financial leeches, and it is important to know how to protect yourself from them. Here are a few things to look out for if you cannot tell if you are dealing with a financial leech
Financial leeches are not forthcoming.
Do you have that friend who isn’t exactly a liar, but you later learn that they hid vital information from you? I’m talking information that – had you known it – you would have taken a completely different course of action? Friends like that aren’t only leeches, but dangerous. The type of manipulation that it takes to commit lies of omission is alarming. If your friend does this, I’d keep an eye on them.
However, there are other ways that financial leeches are not forthcoming. Sometimes this can come from a place of competition, or shame. When you think of it this way, it becomes an unfortunate matter. However, your financial health comes first. Other ways that the financial leech is not forthcoming:
– Dishonest about their own financial behavior (ie: spending habits).
– Over inflates their financial accomplishments.
– Borrows money from multiple people within the same friend group secretly.
So if you notice a friend is sketchy in nature, do NOT allow them anywhere near your fiscal makeup. In the long run, it will protect your wallet, and your friendship.
They’re always curious about your numbers.
The biggest red flag when it comes to financial leeches can be found where their interests lie. Those interests can vary, but I would take note of whether or not they are acting in regard to the law. Going a step further, if your friend seems to have an interest in your finances, that is a huge red flag. What do they have to gain from learning of your exact financial situation? Do you find yourself talking about your money with this person after some probing? If your friend is asking you a lot about your liquid assets, they know when you get paid, or how much you pay in rent, you may be over sharing.
Why is this a big deal? Talking about finances in general is an important thing to do. Things like investing, your favorite house flipping TV show, or even re-selling on eBay are all healthy and harmless topics. Once you get into the allocation of your budget each month, or that recent windfall that you’re expecting from the sudden death of a relative, you begin to move into grooming territory. leeches do this to desensitize you to very inappropriate questions, in hopes of opening you up to being more financially forthcoming with them in the future. This is often one sided. You will never be receiving the same financial openness from this particular friend.
Leeches always want to split the bill.
This is one of the most common, and easiest ways to see if someone is a financial leech. There is absolutely nothing wrong with footing the bill for your friend at times, or splitting the bill when you see your friends for the occasional brunch. However, financial leeches behave in a specific way when you eat out:
– The leech always insists on going out to eat. quite aggressively even.
– They order the most food of the group, or the most expensive plates.
– Requesting a separate bill from them is met with arguing, ridicule and even guilt.
– They NEVER offer to pay for anyone else, but expect to be taken care of every time.
This is how financial leeches are different than your average fun loving brunch going friend. No normal friend who cares about you will behave in this way. Ever. So if you notice that you are constantly putting money aside to treat a friend to each, you may have been latched onto by a financial leech.
They’re always “talking business.”
Maybe I’m a sensitive person, but is it normal to long to go into business with a friend? I don’t mean that steady friend who helped you get into real-estate, and now they want to go into a development with you. I’m referring to your friends sketchy boyfriend who has a different “venture” every month. Here are some warning signs when it comes to joint ventures:
– The person approaches you aggressively, and has a scripted pitch for you.
– Everytime you see this friend they insist on talking about “making money.”
– There is a different venture every other week.
– The person doesn’t have any tangible success, but so many ideas.
– They never go into a venture by themselves.
These are just a few signs that I look for when approached by friends to go into business. Be aware of the red flags when approached for joint ventures, and don’t be afraid to say NO.
This post is not meant to classify just anyone as a leech. It serves as a warning to how you may become susceptible to one within your friend group. A lot of times, things like this start as innocent questions, or favors. It could be masked as curiosity, or even wanting to learn. The most important thing to remember is that it will only go as far as you allow. You have to be able to become comfortable saying no to those that you care about. Financial leeches capitalize on the fact that you won’t want to hurt those that you care about. The quicker that you realize that it’s your right to keep your money to yourself, the easier it will become to spot a friend who doesn’t have your best interest in mind.
So let’s sound off: Do you notice some of these traits in anyone around you? How do you combat being susceptible to financial leeches? Leave feedback on your thoughts, and how you navigate this topic.