How To Cope When Your Housemate Is Loaded And You Aren't
The Debrief: Don't go broke just because you're too scared to say 'Er mate, can we not go on that champagne cruise please?'
My best friend (and housemate) has been to Sydney, her house in Spain, New York, LA and Sweden this year, and it’s only June, and none of those trips were for work. Okay so Sweden was for work but only one day and she went for five so it was basically a piss-up with a quick conference slotted in.
She owns her own business, she works hard, and I’m happy for her. However, to give you some context and demonstrate the dichotomy of our lives, I work in the media and my idea of a balanced meal is Super Noodles with some frozen broccoli on the side. I rely on free drinks semi-regularly and I've been known to buy supermarket own-brand toothpaste.
Last year I decided to go to South East Asia for two and a half weeks to visit some friends and I had to get a second job for four months and save my tips just so that when I got back I could afford the aforementioned frozen goods.
It wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t live together. Before I became savvy in the ways of tackling this modern dilemma (help revealed below, dear reader) every weekend was spent doing one costly activity after the next, interspersed by visits to pubs.
I live in London, which is obviously famed for its cheap booze and affordable lifestyle, so this was absolutely fine (sarcasm here, in case you’re not keeping up). In addition, if I didn’t know any better I would have thought she had a rare medical condition where her body absolutely needed a bottle of prosecco every four hours lest she die of thirst.
Trying to keep up eventually bankrupted me, whilst she continued spending like it was the last days of Rome. So if this sounds like your predicament, I’m well placed to give you some top tips on how to stay on the right side of the bank whilst not losing your pal.
Because you can’t afford to lose her – she has all the best makeup you can totally borrow before a date.
Exaggerate how broke you actually are on occasion
You know that thing where you tell your Dad / Mum / boyfriend / girlfriend how much your new expensive trainers cost and say more than they did, then they’re shocked, then you tell them the real price and it seems cheap in comparison? No? Well you should - it’s a great tactic.
Essentially this works the same way: pretend you’re more brassic than you actually are and then when you do offer to do something (that you can afford) your pal will be appreciative and not suggest going on a booze cruise down the Thames or similar.
Suggest fun, free (or very cheap) things to do
If you live in a city this shouldn’t be too difficult, as there are so many galleries, free exhibitions, parks, markets, comedy nights - just to name a few - that are free. If you don’t live in a city, there’s still loads of shit to do: you’ve just got to have an intense Google. And look at those noticeboards in train stations.
The key here is to take charge of the situation: suggest having friends over instead of going out, have a house party instead of a bar crawl, have a Netflix night instead of the cinema... but make a big deal of it. It’s surprising how much fun you can have without spending the national debt of Greece.
Take charge of all the house admin
… Before they do. Basically, a lot of rich people don’t really understand things like ‘cheap broadband deals’ and ‘not using really expensive, energy-eating electric heaters all day in their rooms’. So you need to take control, to ensure you don’t end up paying £10,000 a month for something you didn’t know anything about, just because money means nothing to the person you’re living with.
Hunt for cheap deals, organise a rota for the meter – if you have a meter – because a lot of rich people will ‘forget’ because paying stuff isn’t at the forefront of their mind every waking hour, like it is with us normal people.
Use their wealth to your advantage
The thing about rich people is that they have nice things, and when these rich people are your pals they let you borrow said nice things. So accompany her on that trip to Topshop, ensure she buys stuff you would wear, and suddenly you've got some free clothes to borrow more than is necessary.
Use her guest passes for the fancy gym to go and cram in as much exercise as you can in one session to burn off the instant noodles. Borrow her Netflix subscription, get ready with her and use her mascara that cost the same as your weekly travel to work.
It’s not like you’re stealing, you’re just borrowing. Loads. For the good of democracy. It's like taxing the rich to help the poor, so you’re essentially Robin Hood.
Tell white lies
I lie on average about five times a day, to people I love, about things I don’t want to do. When my friend told me about a new (hideous) app where you and your mates can see each others’ location at any given time, I declined to join because half the time I'm definitely not where I say I am. This sounds like I'm some sort of James Bond figure, so I’ll allow you to believe that I may or may not be a spy.
Anyway, if your housemate suggests going to a rooftop bar in the city after work, say you're working late. Say your dog ate your homework. Say anything to get out of it and don't feel bad because it saves you hassle in the long run.
Of course, if you’re honest about everything and say you can’t afford it, then they’re more likely to suggest things you can actually go to. Or pay for you. Heh heh.
So next time you're panicking and wondering if there's anything beyond a maxed out overdraft, try all of the above and you should start to be able to eat during the week before payday, which is nice.
And hey, if all else fails and your flatmate is actually a decent pal, abandon your pride momentarily and let them buy you a few G&Ts on a night out. You'd do the same, right? Actually, make that a bottle of prosecco.
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Picture: Eugenia Loli
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