This is the staggering number of people who went into debt to celebrate a friend

What’s the point of life if you can’t spend it with friends? The answer is a little more complicated than you think, according to a new survey by financial services company Novi Money. The survey reveals the emotions and resentments that are the result of the hidden and sometimes unexpected costs of getting together with the gang – whether it be the cocktail bar across town or the destination wedding that someone insists on throwing halfway across the world.
The cultural contract says we spend money on our friends’ celebrations – even more than we’re able to, and even sacrificing when times are tight. And, in return, it’s expected that they’ll smile and do the same for us.
The questions communicated experiences from 750 respondents who attended a friend’s milestone in the past two years.
Overall findings showed that for many Americans, being summoned to celebrate their friend’s major events – events like birthdays, graduations, weddings, births, and bachelorette parties, to name a few – has become more of a financial burden than a F. Scott Fitzgerald-style carefree affair. Today, the budget pressure along is enough to cause many not to go. Still, most will attend anyway out of obligation and politesse, their eyes ever on their cell phone’s banking app.

Standing up to saying “no”

  • Americans are finally starting to say “no” and staying home because they just can’t bear the cost of yet another social celebration. In the last two years, 1 in 3 said “no way” to at least one friends event because of cost. The most absented trips were 1.) bachelor or bachelorette parties, 2.) gender reveal parties, 3.) trips with friends. Two of those events are the type where costs can spiral out of control, fast.
  • Wedding and bachelor/bachelorette parties remain money sucks and Americans are catching a resentment: One in three Americans regret going to those events of their friends because of costs.
  • Still, obligation rules: 41% of Americans have gone to at least one of their friend’s milestones events despite not being able to afford to go. Sometimes you just have to.
  • Suit up and show up, darling: some obligations are more important than others and simply must be dealt with: only one in five Americans chose to miss out on their friend’s weddings.

For those that pay, how do they do it?

In the end, for those who drag themselves to the event, you know they’re not taking out their checkbook at the end of the night. A full 76% of Americans add to their credit card debt or borrow from a friend or family member to attend their friends’ celebrations such as graduations, weddings, bachelor or bachelorette parties. They’ll worry about the bill later, while they resolve never to attend another wedding or bachelor party again.

How do the events stack up?

So just how do the costs of these different events stack up when it comes to attending – and spending?
It looks like that girls’ trip (or guy’s weekend away) is far more expensive than being in a pal’s wedding. In fact, according to the survey, the average spend on a trip with friends is $508.
  • The next big cost and obligation of having friends and celebrating with them is wedding. If you’re a member of the wedding party, prepare to shell out $273, plus an extra $201 is you’re attending the bachelor/bachelorette party. If you’re attending as a regular old guest? Dig $148 out of your wallet.

Americans are pretty much over other peoples’ weddings

Here’s a sharp truth about weddings (possibly your own one day).

  • One in three members of the wedding party regret attendings because of the money they had to spend
  • One in five guests regret attending for the same reason

Events you might actually go to

Some events with friends are more likely to gather more attendees – and less resentment, probably due to the simple fact that they’re cheaper.
The friend’s milestones or gatherings that people are least likely to skip?
  • Friend’s baby showers (21%)
  • Friend’s winter holiday parties (18%)
  • Friend’s Thanksgiving (18%). “Friendsgiving” has become increasingly popular in recent years, and according to the survey, 3 in 4 Americans attended one, at the cost of just $61.

Choose your celebration carefully. After all, 28% of Americans have regretted going to an event because of cost.

Winter festivities, babies, and Thanksgiving gatherings sound much more warm, fuzzy and low-key than high-pressure trips to have fun and carefully orchestrated weddings. Maybe we should lower our standards and stop wanting more than was designed for us and aspiring for more than we are meant for.
Otherwise, we might end up like the 20-something character Evelyn in the 2015 novel Everybody Rise, who chases the society life. Evelyn has friends and money to spend. She could attend all the bachelorette parties and girl’s trips that she could handle, but she still ends up feeling empty at the end up the day:

“Her sense of being not quite enough had continued through Evelyn’s early 20s, especially once she moved to New York City. Evelyn tried to love New York and sometimes did when she was wearing heels and perfume and hailing a cab on Park on a crisp fall night. The city hummed in a way her Maryland hometown never had, and the taxis were hard to get because everyone had somewhere to go, and it was invigorating. And then it became grating: The taxis just became hard to get.”

“She’d learned how to live in New York. She knew now never to eat lunch from the hot bar at Korean delis, never to buy shoes from the brandless leather joints that popped up in glass storefronts in midtown… Yet she wasn’t living a New York life. She’d spent most days plodding to work and home from work without moving her life ahead.”

Life isn’t one endless party, event, or soiree. Sometimes, it’s fine to stay home and save some cash, no matter who you offend.