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Are You The Average of Your 5 Friends?

by J. Money on Friday, March 4, 2011

beer friends
Got sent this quote from a reader:  “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” by Jim Rohn.  It sounded catchy, and familiar, so I tweeted it :) And then I got to thinking…  IS that really true? For me, personally?

I group my friends into different categories – all depending on the specific situation.  For example:

  • My “chill” friends – These are the guys & girls I can just come over and watch a show with or grab lunch or something.  No pressure, no problems.
  • My “party” friends — The ones I share beers with and pretty much know I’m going to have a helluva good night if I call them ;)
  • My “advice” friends – Sadly, I don’t have many of these.  But my wife says I don’t ever ask for advice anyways, and it’s something I need to work on?  There’s probably only 1 other person (other than her) I’d tell my secrets too right now, as bad as that sounds.  Not that I have many secrets anyways – I’m actually kinda boring ;)
  • My “online” friends! By far the cream of the crop – and I’m not just saying that cuz you’re reading this right now, haha… I mean it.  I have way more in common with you guys out there than I do my “real life” friends.  Probably because I spend 12+ hours a day with y’all and 12+ hours a YEAR with them it seems like… do you think that’s a problem?

So for me to say I’m the average of 5 of my friends,  I feel like I have to compare myself within each of the categories. And in that regard it’s probably true.  I’m usually somewhere in the middle of the spectrum within each group.  For example partying – I don’t party the MOST of my friends, but I also don’t party the least.  Same goes with relaxing – I only do it an average amount I’d say.  Now the instances I’m extreme are with advice and online friends ;)  I don’t do secrets and personal advice hardly at all, and I’m the opposite online – I’m CONSTANTLY talking w/ y’all!  So in those categories I am not the average of the group, but the extreme.

But to compare me to only my top 5 closest friends out of all categories?  Nah… it feels like apples to oranges.  I don’t think I fit in at all in that route ;)  Although I def. think there’s some truth to the whole theory.  I mean, we pick friends that are closest like us right?  Or that we share some common bond with?

So what does this have to do with personal finance? Well, the “personal” part!  If that “average” theory is indeed true (or even if it’s just a little true), you have to be careful who you’re hanging with.  You surround yourself with shopaholics and you’re tempting yourself every time you hit that mall. Same goes with extreme savers or anyone who just doesn’t care about their financial situation – the more you spend time with them, the more opportunity you have to follow suit (whether you actually do or not).

Of course, the way to stay true to what you REALLY  want out of any situation is to SET a game plan, and then DO IT. No matter where you are, or who you’re hanging out with.  And let me tell you, that takes  a lot of confidence. And quite frankly, balls.  It’s VERY hard to be the odd man out at a fancy dinner, or a night at the clubs when asked to split a $400 bottle of liquor just so you can sit down at a table! (believe me, I’ve been “that” person before, not fun.)

But you know what?  This is YOUR life, and YOUR money – no one else’s.  Stay true to those goals and desires, and set the expectation early on before going on that trip to the restaurant, or out at the bars/mall/etc. It’s all about knowing yourself and not putting yourself into these situations to begin with.  If you’ve got the personality that causes you to get into a lot of trouble, start putting some barriers in place!  Leave your credit card at home, or set up a plan B before you even start the day/night. You’ve got a lot more options when you think ahead than right there on the spot.

Of course, another option is just changing friends to begin with ;) But we’ll leave that for another day, haha… For now, you just concentrate on being the best YOU possible and stay away from the temptation.

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(Photo by lynch. Can you guess which one’s me?)


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Wojo March 4, 2011 at 7:33 am

Since most of my friends are people I’ve met through work, etc., I would say that I am definitely the average of the closest 5. However, that doesn’t mean I’m planning to keeping it that way for very long. :)

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2 jolie March 4, 2011 at 8:12 am

I have five friends???? :P~~~~~

It depends on the group to be honest. I am often on the lower end of the comparison. (think negative end). I am larger than them. I am less involved in outside activities than them. I have travelled less than them. etc

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3 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com March 4, 2011 at 9:10 am

I tend to be drawn towards people who are more exciting than me. I’m almost certainly the most boring of all my closest friends. I want to be more like the people I’m closest to, which I probably why I choose to hang out with them.

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4 Lauryn March 4, 2011 at 10:01 am

Hmmm… if I had to look at the numbers, I’d say my number of friends available on a daily basis are increasingly limited. As opposed to my normal pack these days, I’m the “rubber ball”… I’m bouncing all over the place as one minute I’m at the highest level, and in another second I’m somewhere in the far corner. I notice that the people I stay around, for the most part, are more motivated and financially savvy than I am and it’s rubbing off positively.

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5 Jon the Saver March 4, 2011 at 10:53 am

I am, without a doubt the average of my five closest friends but with my own personality thrown in with the mix. My best friends were the most diversified of anyone I know. We had the lazy dude, the always at the gym guy (Me), the business guy, the blue collar guy, and the nerdy guy. I have attributes from all of these guys, hopefully less so from the lazy guy haha. But, since moving away to SD from everyone, I’m definitely changing. My priorities are completely my own and I’m finding out my “true self.” That’s the fun part about life, seeing how you change when those five friends are gone!

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6 SS4BC March 4, 2011 at 11:05 am

I dunno if I’m the average of my friends, but I definitely think that I DATE the average of my friends. I tend to date guys who have qualities that I like in my friends. Which is good, since I like my friends a lot, that I should date people who are similar to my friends in their good qualities. =)

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7 Jeanie March 4, 2011 at 11:11 am

I used to rescue people, so I’m upper end of friends.

Lower end of bloggers buddies. :)

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8 JennyDee March 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Local friends — not so much. Online friends –a few of them and I consider them actually friends, as opposed to “people I know online”. I do have my share of those, as well.

I bailed out the local friend once (let her sleep on my couch when her heat was shut off) which turned into a year. of. he**. I’ll never do that again. I learned I’m a pushover that allows myself to be put in situations where I think there’s no other option. I’m fighting to get out of that mentality, if it is actually mentality on my part, or how others perceive me.

I think I’m on the higher end of the scale when it comes to finances and my friends. Two are more well-off than I am, a lot more are worse off. We all share a love of sci-fi, and so go to conventions (yep, we’re geeks and proud of it). When we get togther, a lot more are complaining about their cars breaking down and not having the money to fix them, or other financial difficulties. Yes, I realize that actually traveling out of town is a financial problem itself if you don’t have the money or don’t have plan for it, but I digress. While one friend paid off 15 maxed-out credit cards on her own, I’m still struggling to pay off my two. However, I’m able to handle emergencies, like my car acting up, better than my friend is. I may not have a great cushion, but I feel fairly secure in my financial life.

As for partying and the like, I’m almost the complete opposite of most of my friends. I’m a homebody but I will “allow” myself to get dragged out to a concert or movie. I don’t do bar scenes; never have and never will. I’m the one who doesn’t drink and I got a LOT of flak for that and felt uncomfortable, then I found out the designated driver gets free non-alchy drinks :)

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9 Jenna March 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Great point. I think you should have financial “role models” people you want to inspire towards. Not entire sure if they need to be your best friends but definitely someone you can talk to and ask questions.

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10 Cassie March 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm

I’d say I’m the average of my 5 closest friends. That being said, they’re all COMPLETELY different, so I’m not sure how that averages out! lol.

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11 J. Money March 4, 2011 at 6:41 pm

@Wojo – haha…. hope your boss isn’t reading ;)
@jolie – Awww, I’m sorry :( Maybe they help you get better?
@Kevin @ Thousandaire.com – YOU are the most boring? Wow. Are these guys rock stars?? haha…
@Lauryn – Well I like hearing that :)
@Jon the Saver – Yup! And seeing how you change when you get NEW friends too! Life is awesome like that.
@SS4BC – Haha, I think I agree?
@Jeanie – You remind me of some of my ex-gfs… they were always trying to save people. myself not included (but sometimes I wonder if they thought that! haha…)
@JennyDee – YES! They do! I used to be addicted to Diet Coke, so whenever I was DD I’d get all kinds of hyped up on that ;) Now I’d just rather be the one drinking beer if I’m being honest with you, but I chip in my part here and there… glad you’re working on pushover stuff, that’s hard but well worth the effort. Rock on, nerd!
@Jenna – True dat.
@Cassie – Haha, opposites attract baby :)

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12 Shawanda March 4, 2011 at 10:01 pm

I, literally, just told someone who’s pretty close to me that I heard you’re the average of your 5 closest friends. I mentioned it because he recently started a business and it’s taking off pretty well. He’s not the only one of my friends who is doing great things and accomplishing big stuff. So, I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that math and science has destined me to excel.

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13 J. Money March 6, 2011 at 11:45 am

haha, nice. soon enough you’ll be starting your own biz too! and i’ll be one of your first clients :)

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