University Student Makes Costly Friendship Mistake

university student makes costly friendship mistake



Friendship is a wonderful thing especially when you are networking and keeping doors open for opportunity that might come your way. It’s all about who you know right? In most cases, yes but you can’t just rely on friends.

Do you tell yourself, “I need a friend” or ” I want a friend”? There is a difference between Needs vs. Wants that we talk about in the finance world and the same can be applied here. If you don’t need it then don’t waste your time, energy or money on it. If you want something then you have to work hard to save money to pay for it. Compare this to earning the friendship of someone new in your life.

Don’t get me wrong, having friends is great but at the end of the day they do their thing and I do mine. Contrary to what you’ve read in children’s books growing up life isn’t all about rainbows. There are no unicorns, dolls and talking cars who will watch your back and give you advice.

At one point you probably imagined that Spiderman was your hero and Barbie was the most beautiful woman ever. They were likely the coolest friends to wake up to and play with especially since you were in control of the situation.

Too often we rely on others for our happiness when all we need is the driving force to say, hello to someone and carry a conversation. Making friends is not hard to do it’s keeping them, that’s the tough part. For those who struggle with lack of friendship it can become overwhelming and lonely especially if they feel isolated and under pressure to graduate with as little debt possible.

You might not hear about it but there are suicide deaths that happen in Universities and Colleges across Ontario because of the pressures associated with school and various other reasons. Mental health needs are hard to keep up with and calls on the government for more support has been put forth. A recent study from back in September 2016 from the Ontario University College Health Association (OUCHA) of 25,000 students shared some scary results.

  • 46 per cent of students felt so depressed that it was difficult to function

  • 65 per cent felt overwhelming anxiety

  • 13 per cent seriously considered suicide

  • 2.2 per cent attempted suicide

  • 11 per cent of students reported both depression and anxiety within the past year

Imagine that you were the popular guy/girl in high school with a fun personality, athletic and book smarts but behind the mask you were nervous of everyone around you. You didn’t want to be the loner nor did you want to be a tag along so friendship was very important to you at any cost. It’s funny how our views on friendship change as we get older and it applies to other facets of our lives.

These days owning a smartphone is a must or students feel left out. Gone are the days where we’d type to someone, “BRB” (be right back), now we never leave. We take our friends wherever we go, even to the bathroom. We’re plugged into social media 24/7 and made Mark Zuckerberg one of the richest men alive because he capitalized on friendship while studying in University. He saw the gap and filled it. It’s easy to see why we get caught up in technology based friendship even if we don’t see someone for year upon years.

This is a system that teaches us the more friends we have the better our popularity score goes up. It’s been said that once you’re out in the real world it’s all about who you know when applying for a job. That means we need to start communicating face to face, put our smartphones down and make friends with those people who do want to be by our side.


It’s my life


Going to University for the first time signals the beginning of independence for most young adults who may also move out to attend school in another city/country. You only have to watch the University students during the first couple of weeks once school begins. It’s common to see them walking in packs of wolves all close together. There’s always a leader, assistant leader and the rest of the gang.

A young man who is the son of someone in our circle of friends was the popular guy growing up but he worried about how University life would impact his life on the friendship popularity scale. Although he worked part-time while he attended University to save money the only reason he needed to do this was to pay in part for his $5000 friendship with his roommates.

That doesn’t seem odd when renting a room in a detached house with a bunch of guys. The cost for a room rental on average is between $400-500 a month. Keep in mind he still has to pay for transportation, cable, internet and his cell phone on top of the monthly rent.

Start the sweat machine now folks, life just kicked you in the butt.

His first year of University paid by his parents also helped him pay for his friendship rental, a.k.a student housing. Their son wasn’t sure what to expect during his first year of University so he immediately clung to the friendships he knew he had already made. Sounds a bit mafia in a way but no one likes to be alone especially after they’ve sat in the King’s throne for the past 4 years of high school. Soon enough his friends to study leaving him to fend for himself.

So, what did this young man do?

He responded to an ad at the University for a room rental in a house with 3 other first-year students. His theory was the best way to form a friendship was in a group-like setting. If they all live together then surely they’d all hang out and become friends. That’s not always the case and a skewed vision of what having a roommate is all about.

There’s a difference between being alone and having someone to talk to between cooking and studying for exams. He didn’t wan to be alone so he had a look at the house and met the other roommates and without hesitation signed on the dotted line. These were going to be his new friends to start the University year off right. Wrong.

He had finally found a room to rent in a house close to the University with a bunch of guys who seemed pretty cool. Clearly that was based on first impressions but they aren’t always what they seem. Anxiety and depression about attending school can reach highs for young adults especially if they put tough demands on themselves. Trying to balance school life, work life, friendship life and financial life can be extremely overwhelming for anyone stepping out for the first time.

He rented a room for $416 or $5000 for the year which included parking. All smiles he told his parents what he had done and although they weren’t happy they told him he’d have to pay for most of the rent. I don’t think that he was ready for their response as they’ve always paid for everything related to his education.

Why not now?

Well, when your parents live less than a 5 minute drive from your new friendship rental where you can live for free while attending University I can understand their decision. I’m sure many of you frugal savers out there can’t wrap your head around this one but this is what happened. He believed living on his own was his ticked to friendship heaven.

Best of it is, he came home for food and did his laundry when he needed to. So, in essence he was still living at his parents for free but paying $5000 a year to rent a room. He clung to the notion that everything would be fine because the guys were there to back him up. He’d soon learn that the guys in the house weren’t his buddies just guys that he lived with and chatted to once in a while.

Going into year 2 of University his parents told him that he would have pay for some of his education as they don’t have enough money to cover it all. That meant that the money he earned at work all had to go towards his student debt which left him little to no savings or fun money.

Without the extra help from his parents he was forced to sell his truck because he no longer could afford the petrol for it even though his parents paid for his insurance coverage. You can clearly see the trend here of stretching your financial situation too thin especially when most of the money is coming from outside sources, ie parents.


Building a support system


How could an outgoing guy with lots of friends turn into the guy who pays for friendship? Easy, it’s scary to be out on your own for the first time and students cling to each other for dear life. If a student feels he/she has no support system while attending school that could pose a problem for those who need the motivational grip and shoulder to lean on.

Every time my wife hangs out with her friend and gets the update on their son it’s still hard to believe how far young adults will go for friendship. With the rise of bullying on all levels of education, work-force, at home or online it’s better to have a friendship with someone who will always be around. Bullying can send the recipient into a deep, dark place and can end in tragedy if not controlled.

What is friendship?

A friendship means that the other person will protect you at all times through thick and thin with-in reason. It’s not a marriage but close to it. Remember the television show Friends, consider that the feels some of these kids get when they have pals in their presence.


Get your priorities straight


Friendship can certainly impact lives but for some it is their greatest need to have friends, feel wanted or part of a group. Too many students are tipping the scales going out partying too much, spending money they don’t have and failing school for friendship. Their balance is off-centre because more effort points to friendship rather than education.

I rented a room when I attended University and having to move away from my parents city. I had a couple of friends that were guys that were not my roommates. I worked and studying took up most of my time. On occasion I’d go out with my mates to the pub but I was more interested putting effort into my education. Friendship was always important to me and still is but there had to be that 50/50 balance. My friends weren’t going to pay my rent or buy my food.

Priorities are key.


Life is full of lessons


After a visit with her friend Mrs.CBB found out that their son was moving home for his second year of University because he can’t afford to rent any longer. Most of that was decided based on his parents not footing the bill for his friendship shack-up. That didn’t matter any longer as their son finally realized that money doesn’t buy friendship.

I understand the importance of friendship but think about what you could have done with $5000 a year renting when you didn’t have to. If over the course of his 4 years at University he were to stay renting he would have spent $20,000. I know, that’s a massive amount of money for a student especially if they have to cover their education without any financial assistance. Not every kid is given the money to pay for their education in full.

Student debt is a big problem and sometimes it starts with making silly mistakes like this one. He could have built new friendships at school (which he did) by participating in a vast array of campus programs. There is always something going on at the campus and since he was outgoing and friendly he made even more friends than he thought he would.

Related: How to create a Student Budget

Thankfully he didn’t explode his credit card or take out a loan to pay for his friendship rooming. Consequently he realized the mistakes he’d made during his first year of University.

  • Friendship is easy to build when you talk to people
  • There’s nothing to be afraid of it will all work out
  • Living at home would have saved him $5000 and less stress

Sometimes we have to make mistakes to understand what we did wrong or what we could have done differently. In most cases we make decisions based on our emotions which can be costly and get out of hand fast.

Some students don’t think twice about paying for “entertainment” to keep a friendship going. Student-life is not all about partying, sex, booze and bar-hopping mixed with a dash of studying. This is the picture most first year students think they are walking into. If one is broke the other pays but it seems that one friend is always broke. Getting taken advantage of financially means you’re an easy friendship target for life.


Friendship doesn’t pay the bills


Accepting a job after graduation means you’ll be working for a company where you’ll need to build a friendship or at least working friendship with co-workers. You can’t call your friend for a life line because you’re afraid to meet other people at work. No, you must introduce yourself and get to know the people you work with. Soon enough you’ll be relaxed and into your grove. The same goes with University or College.

Lesson learned…

Year two of University will be coming up for our friend’s son although this year he will be  moving back home with his parents. They already have his room set up and waiting for him to come home. As for his money situation he will continue to work part-time but without the financial stress of worrying to pay for living on his own when he didn’t have to.

Related: The Ultimate Back To School Guide

This is a case of someone too worried about trying something new but once he tried it he realized just how easy it was and wondered why he feared it in the first place. Not everyone has an easy time making friends but I can assure you that spending money when you don’t need to doesn’t help the situation.

Discussion Question:

Did you make any expensive mistakes while you went to College or University?

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  1. Not necessarily for friendship but more for the off campus experience, my son (in his 3rd and last year at Carleton) signed a house lease in May 2020 for the upcoming school year. Past 2 years was in residence. On a month by month comparison residence is more expensive but since you only pay for the school year it works out even to off campus where you generally have to sign a 12 month lease. He knew he would be paying for May-August for a place he wasn’t living in (again, pretty standard for off campus). But in May we had no idea that COVID19 would cause Carleton to cancel in person classes. First they announced that the fall semester would be online. Then they announced the January 2021 winter semester would also be online. So he can stay here in the GTA with us. Luckily he was able to get out of the lease (long complicated story I won’t share). I say luckily because legally the landlord did not have to do that. So we paid $2k for the summer. Had he opted for residence again (my suggestion because Carleton has tunnels so winter classes are easier to get to but he wanted the off campus experience) there would have been $0 cost. Lesson learned. Another fear I had is what if the other roommates don’t pay rent and my son is still on the lease. The landlord could have sued them all and each would be 100% responsible for the ENTIRE amount.

  2. While in college, I make sure I study harder and keep those quality friendship from friends to professors. I know it will have short and long-term benefits especially after college as connections will pay off. And, it’s good to have quality friends around.

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