“I spend thousands celebrating my coupled-up friends, why don’t they reciprocate?”

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Stefanie*, 29, is a solicitor on £50k who rents a home in Manchester with two friends.

Of her friendship group, around 70% are in long-term relationships, while the remaining 30% are single, as Stefanie has been herself for several years. 

She loves celebrating her coupled-up friends’ life milestones with them. But it does mean she needs to factor these events into her monthly budget – engagement parties, hen parties, weddings, baby showers, christenings, and the like.

This can sometimes get in the way of Stefanie’s own financial goals, and she says not all her friends put the same amount of effort into celebrating her achievements or special occasions.

Here, Stefanie shares what it’s like as a single person having to factor in the cost of celebrating her predominantly coupled-up friends.

“Two hen parties recently cost me £450 and £350”

On average, I go to two or three events a month to celebrate my friends in couples, whether that be engagement parties, baby showers, christenings, weddings or hen parties.

The most recent were two hen parties and a christening. One hen party cost me £350 including transport, activities, accommodation and outfits. The other was a trip abroad and cost me £450. For the christening, I spent about £100 on travel and a gift.

Depending on the event, I usually spend between £50 and £300 on average. Weddings and hen parties in particular quickly add up when you take into account accommodation and travel.

“I went to a wedding a few years ago that cost me about £700”

That was across the hen do and wedding, a party the night before the wedding, outfits, accommodation, drinks, transport, and more.

At the time, my salary was much lower as I wasn’t yet qualified, so the cost meant I didn’t have a holiday that year as it was beyond my budget. The £50 a month I’d usually put towards a holiday went on the wedding. 

“This summer I spent about £1k celebrating my friends in couples”

This went towards a hen do, a christening and an upcoming baby shower.

It also included paying deposits, accommodation and transport for future weddings, hen dos and engagement parties which are coming up later this year and in early 2024. 

“It’s difficult to budget for events when there are so many of them”

I do try to set money aside to help plan for these occasions but sometimes it’s difficult, particularly when several friends are celebrating several events, and especially when this spans different friendship groups.

A lot of the time, I use my planned disposable income for that month to pay for the events. If I need accommodation, I sometimes book this on a credit card and pay it off.

“I have a ‘Holidays and Events’ Pot that I put money into every week”

I find Pots very helpful. My ‘Holidays and Events’ Pot has a scheduled deposit of £30 every Friday so that I have money available to use for any events that come up.

My round ups also go into that Pot, and I put a portion of money away on pay day to help fund events. 

Occasionally, I’ll put a larger lump sum of £100 into the Pot either on pay day or if my monthly spending has been less than anticipated.

“It can be frustrating that I’m spending so much money to celebrate others rather than spending it on myself”

I would have loved a solo holiday this year as I find it a great way to reconnect with myself. But because of these financial obligations to my friends, it wasn’t possible.

“I also take time off work for other people’s events”

Similarly, a lot of them require me to take precious annual leave from work, which means it’s harder for me to take leave for my own reasons or celebrations.

“It’s difficult to get my coupled-up friends to commit to spending time and money to attend my birthday parties, despite me attending their events multiple times a year”

Often it feels like my coupled-up friends are too busy to give the same attention and time to celebrate events of mine. For example, birthdays or promotions at work.

I wish they’d put as much effort in as I do to attend their events and celebrate them. 

I’m not sure they recognise that being single doesn’t mean I don’t have achievements that they could celebrate with me.

“It upsets me that my effort isn’t reciprocated”

I tried to organise a meal and drinks out for my birthday earlier this year and all but one of my coupled-up friends said they couldn’t make it due to other commitments with their partners or children.

While I completely understand it’s hard having competing commitments, I gave more than enough notice. And given the amount of effort I put into attending their multiple events I hoped to receive the same kind of effort. 

Notably, all my single friends came.

“I’d feel better about spending so much money on my friends if they recognised the amount of time, money and effort I put into celebrating them”

And if they reciprocated by celebrating my achievements. I’m currently preparing for a marathon and I’d love to celebrate completing that with all my friends. Hopefully they’ll be pleased to do so!

Some have shown support, but most of my coupled-up friends haven’t really shown much interest and none of them have sponsored me so far.

A lot of my single friends have already said they will turn up to support on the day but so far none of my coupled up friends have said the same. 

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*We’ve changed her name