Gen Z and millennials are losing friends over money, study finds 

  • Young folks consider ending friendships due to their friends driving them to overspend 
  • More than one-third of Gen Z and millennials (36%) have a friend who drives them to overspend, leading to a cycle of debt 
  • Young people value making friends with people who are in a similar income bracket 

Young Americans are losing friends over their spending habits and it’s putting a damper on their finances. 

According to a study conducted by Qualitrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma, more than one-third of Gen Z and millennials (36%) have a friend who drives them to overspend. This is leading many to take on debt and in some cases, end friendships to protect their finances. 

Of millennial respondents who have a spendy friend, someone who drives them to spend more money than they can afford, 88% have taken on debt as a result of spending time with that friend. The same is true for 80% of Gen Z respondents who have a friend that drives them to overspend. Millennials are worse off however, with 15% admitting they’ve taken on $500 or more in debt as a result of spending time with their spendy friend, compared to just 2% of Gen Z respondents in the same boat. 

Among millennials with a profligate friend, 43% say they typically overspend on dining out or drinks and nights out (37%). Others noted more elaborate events, like trips and vacations (22%) or birthday celebrations (21%) are driving up costs. Similarly, Gen Z blamed dining out (37%) as the main reason for their overspending, while others said they typically overspend with their friend on clothing (36%), drinks and nights out (32%), trips and vacations (24%) and even self care (20%), including things like massages and manicures. 

The top reasons young respondents spend money they don’t have when they’re with their spendy friends include not wanting to feel left out (31% of Gen Z and 32% of millennials who say they have a friend who drives them to overspend), wanting to keep up with their friend’s lifestyle (29% of Gen Z and 28% of millennials) and wanting to please their friend (29% of Gen Z and 28% of millennials). Another 28% of millennials also admit they simply don’t know how to say “no” to this friend. 

This misalignment in spending is leading many younger Amerians to consider ending friendships due to their friends’ spending habits. This was the case for 47% of Gen Z and 36% of millennials. This could explain why young folks are now seeking out friends who earn as much as them. According to the study, 35% of Gen Z respondents say it’s important that their friends earn as much as them, along with 29% of millennials. 

“Spending money to keep up with friends isn’t anything new, but it could be a problem if people are starting to lose friends over misaligned spending habits,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma. “Talking about your finances with your friends could help alleviate some of the stress associated with money, especially if you and your friend have different financial situations. Yet, more than a quarter of millennials (26%) say they keep their income and debt a secret from their friends to avoid judgment. If you’re in a situation where you feel pressured to spend money to keep up with your friend’s lifestyle, start by being honest with them about your financial situation and what your limitations are when it comes to spending on things like dining out or a night out on the town. This will help set expectations and limit your chances of overspending when you’re with this friend.”   


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma between June 7, 2023 and June 9, 2023 among 1,005 adults ages 18 and older.