5 Money Friends We All Need

We don’t just need friends who are good with money. But our social circles will directly impact our personal finances. Maybe you have heard the Jim Rohn quote, “You become like the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Over the years, I’ve become more discerning in what percent of my time is spent with different types of people. I’m a naturally loyal-to-the-end kind of person. So the idea of pushing people out of my life was always difficult (read: impossible). But I have learned to watch my percentages of the social circle I keep and the time I give to each kind of person. There are 5 kinds of people I try to give 90% of my time, attention and social energy towards. Here’s why…

5 friends we need to be good with money

The Science

There are two elements at play here.

First, we are greatly influenced by our social circles. The research is fascinating to me. Close connections and loose connections have a significant impact on our own behavior. For everything from weight loss to fitness, happiness, depression, heart health, and smoking.

The second element is that we have a finite ability for social connections. We can only maintain a certain number of connections. There are only so many people we would visit in the hospital. Most research teases out the idea we can maintain about 150 loose connections and about 4-10 very close connections. So no matter how many friends FB says you have, there is a finite number of people that we really know, have a history with and maintain a connection with.

Let’s combine these facts. 1. Who we are friends with has a big impact on our own behavior. 2. We only have space for so many friends.

If we only have space for 150 loose connections and 4-10 close connections, I would make sure to include as many of these kinds of people as possible! This isn’t about pushing out everyone who doesn’t fit into these boxes but paying attention to our percentages. How many of our close connections are these kinds of people and how much of our time do we spend with them?

Here are my personal top 5 people. 

1. Loves you unconditionally, always supportive

The person who loves you. The one who supports you to the very end. It’s not based on performance. You don’t have to earn your spot. For whatever reason, come hell or high water, they will be there. They show up. And they believe the very best about you without you even having to ask. With any luck, you share DNA and Thanksgiving with a few of these people.

2. Visionary

The Visionary sees you very differently than you might see yourself. They see possibilities. They see the potential. Things that are invisible to others are crystal clear to them. In humble beginnings, they see the outcome 5, 10, 20 years down the road. They see the seeds in you and believe the garden is about to be incredible. Everyone else might just see the patch of dirt, but the visionary knows better.

Coaches and teachers can be amazing visionaries. I had two amazing visionaries growing up, a basketball coach and youth pastor. Both saw something in me I didn’t see at first and helped me to find it as well.

3. Emotionally Intelligent

Everyone needs this friend! I’ve needed a few along the way. They are the ones who can express love. They can articulate disappointment. They know how to apologize. They can listen to ideas they disagree with in a way that shows respect. They can ask us to own our crap in a way that still conveys love. By their example, we become better human beings. And it’s these people we will let speak truth into our lives because they have earned that right.

4. Betterer

I’m a betterer by nature. Betterers love to make things better. They see the way things are and will learn, study, and fiddle until they know how to make things better. In relationships, businesses, words, organizations, machines, gardens, or processes, they better. With a natural curiosity for how the world works, and desire to improve, their attention to details move the needle.

5. Creator

Creators are often my very favorite people. Out of thin air they create something amazing. Ideas, paintings, gardens, businesses, books, HR manuals, architecture, organizations, classes or 1000 other things. I love them because to create takes gumption and bravery. They ship their work. They face critics. They take risks. And the world is better for what they created.

How the heck can we get more friends like this?!?

That’s the tough part right? Filling our friend circle was easy when we were 15, but it’s harder in later seasons of life. Our plates are more full, these amazing people have equally full plates.

Here are my two best tips.

Be more like these 5 people. Play to your strengths. Fill in the gaps in your weakness as needed. These are very attractive qualities and it will naturally draw similar people to you.

Show up. Show up for these high caliber people in ways that matter to them. Be there. Make time for a phone call. Accept the dinner invitation. Email if needed. Try to add value. Show up when it matters. Being as we have finite time and energy, make sure 90% of your time/energy is going towards these kinds of people.

But each of these 5 have a Bizarro World alter ego. Bizarro World is a planet in DC comics where everything is “weirdly inverted or opposite.” Unfortunately, in real life, each of these 5 amazing friends have a Bizarro World version.

If we have a limited bandwidth, how much space are you holding for the Bizarro World counterparts? This is something I’ve struggled with for years. I never want to leave anyone behind or let anyone go. But as you look at this list, imagine what trajectory your life would take if 90% of your time and interactions were with these kinds of people.

1. (Instead of: Love you unconditionally, Ever supportive) You will never be good enough.

You can never earn a spot. Nothing you do or say will earn you the favor you hope for. You can try your whole life, but will always fall short for this person. And they won’t show up. When it matters and when you need them, they won’t be there.

2. (Instead of: Visionary) Small, limiting beliefs about you.

These people have no ability to see you as anything more than what you are right now. In fact, they see you in the worst possible light. They can only see flaws and shortcomings. You can hustle, achieve and try to please all day long, they cling to this small, distorted version of you.

3. (Instead of: Emotionally Intelligent) Emotionally abusive or distant.

They are unavailable at best, and at their worst cause constant pain and emotional distress. They seem incapable to be loving or supportive. You can beat your head against a wall asking, “Why can’t they just (fill in the blank)….like a normal human being!” It defies logic.

4. (Instead of: Betterer) Belittler who tears down.

I think the Belittler is often a broken Betterer. Instead of using this superpower for good, they are impossibly demanding and fault finding. They will sort through every area of your life and go to great lengths to point out how you are failing their impossibly high standards.

5. (Instead of: Creator) Critic.

We live in fear of the critic. Every time you create something, try something, adventure, take risks, or speak up: you find the Critic. Their only job is to keep you in your place. If you give them enough space in your life, their words to you will become the words you speak to yourselves.

I think we all know a few of these people. Maybe we work with a few, or went to school together, or share DNA with them. They make for excellent TV, movie, and caricatures, but as less so as close companions.

Number One Predictor of Success

If I were a gambler, I would base my bets on your friend circle. How many of your closest friends are characterized by those 5 amazing qualities? How many closely fit into the Bizarro World group? Out of your 150 closest friends what percentage has one or more of those qualities?

It’s easy to get swept into the momentum. If 90-95% of our time is spent with the first group, we get caught up in the direction they are going. We become more and more like them. And good things happen in our personal finance.

If even 50% of our social interaction is with the Bizarro World friends, we get pulled down instead of swept along. Can you imagine spending 50-90% of your time surrounded by Bizarro World people? And if these are those closest to you?

All of this has a direct outcome on our personal finance.

No one finances a $50,000 car because they are bad with math. No one buys a house they can’t afford because they lack a love of spreadsheets. It’s just not that simple. If 50%+ of your close friends hail from Bizarro World and you spend 90% of your time with them, showing you a compound interest calculator won’t fix the problem.

The bonus friend.

Ok, there is one more kind of friend I HAVE to include. Because out of 150 people one or two needs to be this kind.

The Connector.

Connectors are people who love, and I mean love making connections. If you make space for these people they will connect you with great ideas, resources, books to read, directions to explore and the right people to meet. They maintain the largest social networks and are natural helpers. Just like the other 5 kinds of friends, show up for the connectors, make space for them, and appreciate the gift they offer.

The extra bonus.

If you can fill your social circle and mostly spend time with these 6 amazing people, you are bound to get swept along. But the extra amazing bonus? If they also happen to be good with money. That’s the jackpot!

It’s honestly icing on the cake. Not the cake itself. If you know people who are great with money, but they all hail from Bizzaro World, I would pass. Although, I have found that the people who do the best with money tend to naturally fall into the first group.

For years I mentored teenagers. Ones from broken families, who had dealt with abuse or lived far under the poverty line. They came from all sorts of situations: different nationalities, genders, income, race. Some had parents in prison, others had drug-addicted parents, some were homeless.

What they all needed was the same. They needed to see themselves differently, they needed to see the world and possibilities differently and to get there: they needed new people in their life. More than anything, they needed these 6 people in their life. If I could get 90% of the people they spent the most time with from this group of 6, everything else would fall into place.

If you are trying to get from a bad money situation to a good one. Or from a good one to a great one. Watch the company you keep! =)

For Conversation:

How do you go about tipping the percentages in your favor in your social circle or online?

The #1 benefit I’ve had with blogging has been THIS. My subscribers, people I’ve mentored, those I’ve worked with in my courses, readers I have met up with in person, readers who comment/email and other bloggers. Thank you to everyone who has “leaned in”. I hope it’s made your life and money better. I know I’m better for having you as friends.



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26 thoughts on “5 Money Friends We All Need

  1. Great post! I also think you’re friends have a huge impact on your success. I was thinking about my friends and I noticed that all of my friends are more successful than me, bigger savers, well off, and very likable people. I feel very fortunate to have them as friends. I’ve noticed that despite the extremely harsh environment I grew up in I’m doing pretty good. I think it’s mostly due to my ability to call my friends up and ask for advice. They always had a clear head and advised me of the responsible and smart thing to do. I owe a lot of my good decisions in life to them. Good friends are worth their weight in gold and I agree, 90% of your time should be spent with them.

    • The key to rising above a negative upbringing is being really intentional about tipping that balance with healthy, successful people. I see so many teens just stay in the same social circles, and push away anyone who is healthy or could help. The more closely we consider the percentages of time and emotional energy we are giving to different kinds of people, the more intentional we can be about investing in the positive relationships. I’ve seen people give 80% of their time and emotional energy to the most destructive people and just have nothing left for all the people who could really help them move the needle.

      It’s great to hear you have found people who make positive change easy. =)

  2. I like the bit about having a supportive friend who shares your DNA. I count my loving, supportive sister as my friend.<3 I know not every sibling relationship is close, so I am thankful. Great post!

  3. I love these! One of my really good friends is #2 (Visionary) for sure and has helped me land two of my previous jobs, which has been a HUGE life improvement overall for me. It’s definitely true that you become a blend of the people you hang out with. 🙂

    • Visionaries have a great way of encouraging or pushing us to think bigger, try harder and see the world differently. I love to talk shop with them! There is a certain eternal optimism that just sees the potential in things. In 2 hours, we can solve all the worlds (or at least that situations) problems. =) It’s great that you have one is your close circle! When resources are limited (time, energy, money) I always try to hold space for those folks.

  4. Great post, Jillian! I especially like the “Bizarro World” comparison, the antithesis of the people you want to be with, it really made the points clear. Since we’re relatively new in our retirement mountain town, we’re still trying to build our social networks. Your post has filled my mind with being intentional about building relationships with the “right” kind of people. Also, I’m happy to have you as a friend!

    • It takes time to build those relationships! It’s great to have a few solid “in-person” friends. But one the best parts of blogging is growing my online friends as well. Looking forward to seeing you next week!

  5. Awwww – you always look so amazingly happy when you smile…I see your hubby has the same charm! 🙂

    The breakdown of each persons 5 is very telling of our nature. I am an extroverted introvert and a connector by nature. I like to get people motivated and moving forward but it can be quite draining against the introverted side of me. For that reason, I need people around me that are calming like the emotional intelligent person you spoke of. I am quick with my emotions and haven’t learned that skill yet! The 5 is a great give and take of what we have and what we need. Of course, that is always evolving as we learn new skills in life. Hopefully as we age we also are able to quickly recognize energy vampires from the bizzaro world. They tend to sneak in when you don’t keep your borders tight! 😉

    • I’m definitely getting better at seeing people’s gifts and how developed those gifts are. These last few weeks I’ve done so many Skype calls I’ve lost my voice, but even in a 90-minute call I’ll be like, “Oh, you’re a connector!” “Oh you are a betterer!” Because the funny thing is, we can encourage people in that or we can shut them down. I always ask before I “better” because while I thrive in a high feedback situation, it’s a gift not always appreciated. =)

  6. Awesome list and I like that you showed the flipside to those 5 people so that readers can identify how maybe they need to change or can spot someone they could help change. Reading I wasn’t sure if I was a “betterer” but then say “connector” as a bonus and that felt right.

    • I think in these 6, there can be a lot of overlap. I have worked really hard to grow into each of them. Some come very, very easily to me and some have been, um, challenging. I love being a connector, but I’m not awesome at it yet. But now vs 10 years ago, I do a much better job. I pay more attention to ideas, resources, books, jobs, ect and try to help connect people. But because I’m really introverted, they might need to reach out first and ask for help. =)

  7. This is so beautifully written. I feel like I fit into a few, so I asked my husband to see what he says. But I know that finding these friends isn’t easy. It’s tough and takes time. It also takes being willing to get hurt, because you will get hurt along the way if you’re really trying to connect to people.

    I also feel like we can fit into a couple of categories. I know my husband is a visionary, filled with incredible amounts of discernment. He struggles to keep the critic in him at bay, which comes from a perfectionist side of him and feeling that he had to live up to expectations as a kid. And as I said, i fit into a few. But I think it comes down what you mentioned. Working to be more of the good types of friends, and to try to make real connections with those type of people too.

    • The more mentoring calls I do, the more I am seeing how much people struggle with the fear of connecting. I’ve been surprised how often it comes up. But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We can slowly build relationships and connections. And sometimes a loose connection is all we need. There are amazing, incredible people in my life that I only talk to 1-3x a year. Or people I am friends with online. I don’t read every piece of content they put out, but we “show up” for each other occasionally and it makes a big difference.

  8. What a wonderful breakdown of the people we need and don’t need in our life! I have “decluttered” and distanced myself from several of the Bizarro World type over the last year or so; it has definitely made a difference.

    • Those boundaries are tough! Honestly, just writing this piece strengthened my resolve in setting boundaries. If someone can only bring bizarro world to the table, 1% is all they get of me. If they want to bring more to the table, I will make more space for them.

  9. I credit the friendship with my wife for supercharging my life these past 12 years. My work performance improved, my creativity improved (i dunno, blogging?) and my desire to challenge myself (running, starting a real estate business, downhill skiing, etc.) Amazing what a best friend with those first set of attributes you list can do for you. GREAT POST!

    • My husband jokes that if he didn’t marry me he would have a much nicer TV, but not a $700,000 net worth! An amazing spouse that has some or most of these strengths is invaluable. They can help make us the very best version of ourselves, and that ripples through our whole life! By contrast, I feel bad for those who marry the evil doppelgangers. That’s a hard life. I don’t know how to swim upstream against something like that. Congrats on 12 years! Always have time, energy and money to pour into that most important relationship. =)

  10. I love this piece of advice: Be more like these 5 people. I went to a conference this summer and there was a session called “Good Friends Are Hard to Find” and the twist was that the main thing in our control is to become a better friend. I agree that we need discernment about whom we build our closest friendships with, but being a good friend is a great way to influence others and help them grow into good friends, too.

    • It’s always a growing process! No one is born perfect in any of these areas, we all have room to grow. The reality is that even if you run into an amazing person, they generally won’t stay in your life if there is a bizarro world tendency. I have found the more I have grown in each of these areas the more of the same type of people I hang out with, the more space I make for them and the more space they make for me. It’s always great when you give someone an hour of your time and you both walk away going, “That was so great! I feel better, have better ideas, a fresh perspective, and more positive outlook! We should do that again soon!” Vs. “Well, that was an hour of my life I’m never getting back.” =(

  11. Your posts are always so well-written and fresh. Thank you for putting the time in to bring forward well-rounded viewpoints and thought-provoking posts. Love this post. I have a small circle of friends, a few close friends, but have very different financial views from most of them, so turn to the online FIRE community for reinforcement there.

    • Aw, thanks so much! I think there is so much benefit to finding “online” friends in the form of blogs, podcast, youtube, or books. And it’s really cool what can happen when people choose to “lean in” a bit. People can go from “online” friends to real-life friends.

  12. Nice article. It’s good to be reminded of things to work at being better at as a friend. Also I like this: “If 50%+ of your close friends hail from Bizarro World and you spend 90% of your time with them, showing you a compound interest calculator won’t fix the problem.” I need to stop trying to discuss FI with people who have a solid footing in BW.

    • YES! It’s not only unhelpful but horribly discouraging. There are so many people who are visionaries, creators, betterers in this space. Save your time and energy for them! Hanging out with those folks is like a double shot of espresso. I use to have Skype calls with people I mentored at 7 or 7:30 at night. It seemed ideal, because my kids were in bed. But the conversations were so fun, exciting and interesting that I couldn’t sleep afterwards. I would end up staying up for another 2 hours after the call! I’m switching up my scheudal so I can get to sleep at a decent hour. =) But we all need more of that, and less of the BW twins.