Why Is Friendship So Expensive?

By Meghan Dillon
·  4 min read
why is friendship so expensive

When my friends and I were in high school and college, we were perfectly happy going to restaurants like Olive Garden, Buffalo Wild Wings, Panera, and Chick-fil-A for lunch or dinner.

If we wanted to get drinks (when we were old enough, of course), we’d get them at whichever restaurant we had dinner at or went to a local bar with cheap vodka sodas. We went to fancier restaurants on occasion, but we mainly went to affordable places. We were also perfectly happy to just hang out at someone’s house and not spend any money.

Things have changed. We’re in our mid-twenties, and some of my friends moved out of state for grad school or new jobs. When we see each other, we tend to go all out. This includes splurging on the perfect brunch and attending expensive events.

The Rise of Brunch

Don’t get me wrong, I love brunch, but my wallet (and liver because of mimosas) hates it. At The Hampton Social, one of the most popular brunch spots in Chicago, it adds up quickly. A breakfast sandwich is $11, fried chicken is $16, and cocktails are $13. If you had a breakfast sandwich, fried chicken, and two cocktails (don’t lie to yourself, you’re having more than one), you’ll be paying $53 before tax and tip. That’s a pretty hefty penny to spend on a Saturday morning with the gals.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid spending too much money on brunch. You can use the good old trick my friends and I have been using since high school, which is ordering our own dishes and asking for separate checks when the bill comes along to save on the tip. When it comes to shared items, be clear with your friends about what you’re willing to pay. If you split the appetizers, they’re cheaper per person.

When it comes to shared items, be clear with your friends about what you’re willing to pay. 

Harvard economist Benjamin Golub writes, “If you are considering an extra $10 appetizer, it’ll only cost you $1 [if split 10 ways]. In an efficient system, you only order it if it’s worth $10 to you, if you would order it eating by yourself. But here, you order it if it’s worth at least $1 to you — that’s a cheap appetizer.”

In short, make sure you're communicating with your friends about how much you're willing to spend before you go to an expensive brunch, preferably before the mimosas are poured.

Concerts and Sporting Events

If your friends are anything like mine, you like going to sporting events and concerts. Unfortunately, those can be expensive. During the 2015-16 NHL season, median ticket prices ranged from $60 to $283 per ticket. (The prices change from team to team based on how popular and/or successful they are. This applies to all four major sports.) 

General admission passes at Lollapalooza, a popular music festival in Chicago, start at $340.

In 2019, the median ticket price for an MLB game ranged from $52 to $167 per ticket. The median ticket price for an NBA game during the 2015/16 season ranged from $30 to $129 per ticket. In 2019, the median ticket price for an NFL game ranged from $71 to $165. Keep in mind, this is just for the ticket. The overpriced hot dogs and beer also add up quickly.

Concerts aren’t any cheaper, and the rise of music festivals is making it more expensive. General admission passes at Lollapalooza, a popular music festival in Chicago, start at $340 and can go up to $4,200 if you want a platinum VIP pass.

What about Being a Bridesmaid?

If you’re a woman in your 20s or 30s, becoming a bridesmaid is inevitable. However, it costs more than showing up to the wedding in matching dresses and having fun at the bachelorette party. A survey from Wedding Wire estimates that the average cost of being a bridesmaid is $1,200. The bachelorette party itself is a pretty penny. According to CNBC, the average bachelorette party cost $537 to attend. It’s safe to say that the clothes, possible airfare and hotel, gifts, food, and drinks add up really fast.

Closing Thoughts

Friendship was inexpensive when we were young. We didn’t need to spend a fortune on brunch or a concert to have fun with our friends, and we can still go back to that. Sure, we’ll still have to spend a good wad of cash when we’re bridesmaids, but that’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, not every weekend. Let’s be honest, if they’re your real friends, you’d have just much fun with them with a pizza and wine night as an expensive brunch or music festival.

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