Awkward Conversations: I Just Can’t Afford It

In her final blog about awkward conversations and how to have them, Milly talks about being broke and how to handle those tricky situations…

I Just Can’t Afford It

I’m a writer, and because my name is not Joanne and I did not write an epic tale about a wizard, I was not a particularly well-paid one, for what felt like ten hundred bajillion years. Therefore, I feel I’m quite qualified to wax lyrical about problems that arise from money. Or mainly not having money. Or, crucially, having less money than all of your friends!
Broke Piggy
It is basically the law that all recent graduates fall into one of two categories:

      • Sensible, level headed people who left university and walked straight into a nicely paying job that offers steady room for development and pay rises every year. Lives in nice rented flat (often with boyfriend – just sayin’) in sensible area such as Battersea or Clapham. Will often say things like ‘I just booked a skiing holiday – only 600 quid which I thought wasn’t too bad right?’, whilst you scream silently into your hands remembering how your card got declined earlier trying to buy a toe ring in Topshop!

      • People who decided to pursue a career in the ‘arts’. HAHAHAHAHA (manic laugh). Lives in silly area like Hackney, or Peckham in a tiny box or a freezing warehouse. Pays for everything with fingers crossed under the counter

Yeah, yeah it’s an exaggeration (suppressed manic laugh), however what is not an exaggeration is that your early twenties is one of the periods where people are at very different stages. Some are getting married and settling down (congrats guys) and others are being sick into their own pants. (true story – actually not me this time, but I won’t name and shame). It’s just the way the world works.

Therefore, if you are in the ‘poor as a church mouse can’t afford an Uber home from guy-whose-name-I-can’t-remember’s house’ category, there is often a dreaded exchange as this:

Nice sensible friend: I haven’t seen you in ages. Shall we meet up?


You: Oh yes lovely – shall we go to the pub after work (in head – I can have one glass of wine and pretend I’m on a health kick)


Nice sensible friend: Yeah could do (universal sign for no). I was actually hoping we could get some dinner. I’m starving!


You: Don’t be a bitch. (or…you know…something nicer than that)

Honesty is the best policy here. No one minds if you can’t afford something, but they probably will mind if you agree to go to said dinner, eat one lettuce leaf and seethe with resentment throughout.
If the unaffordable activity is unavoidable (e.g. the dreaded birthday dinner at that restaurant where the bread basket costs more than your monthly rent), simply take a deep breath and give birthday friend a ring BEFORE the event to explain that you’d love to come but you’ll be having a starter and not splitting the bill, or you’d love to be there but you’ll join for drinks after the meal. These are your friends and they’ll understand. And if they don’t…best get yourself some new mates!
I hope that helps chums. Godspeed, good luck and pray to God no one asks you to split the bill.

Read the first two blogs in Milly’s three part series here:

Awkward Conversations: I Want A Pay Rise
In need of a pay rise: What do you do?
Awkward Conversations: What…Are…We?
That dreaded but inevitable conversation in any relationship…

Milly Edgerley

Milly is a writer living in London.

‘I write in many places, but you can always find me writing about my tragic life at Broke London Blog’

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