Should We Pay Our Friends More Than We Pay Total Strangers?

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In case you didn’t notice, over the weekend my blog got a facelift. And I have to say I’m absolutely in love with it. (Do you like it?)

Thanks to a few new design skills, my site is cleaner and easier to navigate. One of my friends helped me out and gave me just what I was asking for (and better).

In true friend fashion, when I asked her to give me a cost estimate, she quoted me a discounted price. I was actually disappointed, because I don’t like paying friends and family a discounted rate.

I’m not sure if she felt obligated (since we’re blogger friends) to charge me less, but I told her I would pay her full price anyways. Why? Because I feel we should pay our friends more than we pay total strangers. Here’s my reasoning:

You like your friend better than a random person

I’m an introverted person by nature and I don’t like talking to strangers or introducing myself to random people. It’s much easier to talk to my friends since I already know and like them.

I don’t have to suffer through awkward silence moments or come up with “break the ice” type banter.

The trust factor is already established

When you hire a family member or friend you don’t have to spend time looking up their references or doing any background research.

You most likely already trust them and have a reliable relationship. You don’t have to worry about things like them showing up on time, doing a thorough job or taking advantage of you.

You can be brutally honest with each other

I have a harder time being completely honest with colleagues and clients if I don’t know them that well. Which makes the working relationship full of uncertainty and like I’m walking around on eggshells.

If that person is already my friend, I’ll tell them what I like and what I don’t, and I don’t have to feel bad or guilty for my opinion. It’s also nice to hear their unbiased and truthful opinion too.

They have to put up with you (and me)

My best friend is a hair stylist and I change my hair color almost every time I visit her salon. I’ve had every color from pink to purple to black, and yet she still puts up with me.

Do you think anyone else would? I doubt it.

I’m a high maintenance client and I know it. Simply for putting up with me, I pay her more than I would a stranger. I like to keep my friends around, not make them resent me for underpaying them.

They often have our best interest at heart

It’s very difficult to sift through people’s motives and see if they truly are loyal and trustworthy. Normally the people closest to us will have our best interests at heart.

I know it puts my mind at ease to have someone I believe in, doing what’s best for both of us. I don’t have to worry about them lying to me or having ulterior motives.

What do you think?

When someone hires me for a job, there’s normally a “trial period”, to test the waters and see if we make a good business match. There’s a lot to prove, trust to build and relationships to work on.

When we already have that built-in relationship, it saves both time and money spent searching for just the right person for the job.

So why would we pay them less and total strangers more? The people we know have more to bring to the table, and should be compensated extra.

Do you think we should pay our friends more than total strangers?

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28 comments

  1. Melissa says:

    I think it really depends. I do a lot of freelance editing, everything from full books to students’ essays and resumes, and I charge on a sliding scale, which is based on the work involved, and also what I think the person can afford to pay. I would charge a corporation probably five or six times the hourly rate I’d charge a student to edit her paper, just because I like to be flexible and reasonable, and because I know it’ll balance out. With friends, I usually charge a discounted rate, too. I want to help them out, and depending on what it is, I might do it for free, but I also don’t want to set a precedent of “Oh, Melissa will just edit my paper before I send it in,” which is why I usually charge *something*. But I rarely would charge anything close to my full rate. It’s more a matter of wanting to make sure my friends know that my work has value and so I’m not taken advantage of. 

    When it comes to paying friends to do stuff, I just pay them whatever they tell me, and I won’t question it. If I’m setting the price, I just come up with something reasonable. I recently paid a friend to clean up my balcony for me before I moved out of my place, and I think I gave him $60. It was a gross job, for sure, but it only took him an hour. (Or maybe less; I wasn’t even there, but I’d paid him more to do it once before, when there was a lot more involved, and *that* only took him an hour and a bit.) That’s less than a professional company would have charged, but I’d wager that just because the pros might gouge me, doesn’t mean I have to pay my friend the same. I think he got a fair deal! And I got to help out a friend, and not have strangers in my house. Win win.

    • Carrie Smith says:

      You make some great points Melissa. I think there are times when charging less/more is more beneficial than just a standard rate. If the friends both agree they are helping each other get a fair deal, then by all means continue. From the perspective of me paying a friend, I want to make sure they feel I appreciate their work and they’re knowledge/skills are worth extra compensation.

  2. Modest Money says:

    This is an interesting point since a lot of friends naturally assume they’ll get a discount on certain things.  I think it depends on the scenario.  If you are in a financial position to pay full price, I think your friend would really appreciate that.  On the flip side, if money is tight, your friend can probably understand and give you more leeway.  There definitely is a lot of advantages to hiring a friend instead of someone you don’t know or trust.  You know they’ll go out of their way to make you happy.

    By the way, the blog design looks great.  It’s definitely very clean and professional looking.  Good job Andrea.

  3. Ryan Hardy says:

    Great points, Carrie. I have a friend who has a side job changing oil. I am one of his few regular customers. He has always given me a discount, which I enjoyed. But after some time, I felt like I was taking advantage of him, especially since he doesn’t make too much money from it already. So the last time I got an oil change from him, he told me I owed him $23. I told him I would give him a $7 tip just because he was such a great mechanic.

  4. WorkSaveLive says:

    I couldn’t agree more! At the church I go to EVERYBODY there wants to do things for free, but I feel terrible allowing them to do that. If I didn’t have the money and/or they didn’t need the money then it might be different…but I do have it and it certainly wouldn’t hurt them.

    I’m all for friends being nice and helping people when they’re in need, but if you gave handouts away to everybody then you’d eventually no longer have a business. It was a nice gesture that Andrea showed but I think it’s awesome you paid her full price!

  5. ImpulseSave says:

    I think that is such a great point, Carrie! When you think about how much easier it can be to do business with friends you know will work well, it’s a no-brainer! Plus, if you are going to continue to do business together, it can become awkward when one starts owing the other quite a bit of money over time. I think it’s best for the long-term relationship if you pay each other in full, so there’s never a question of who owes whom a favor and it’s just not an issue!

    • Carrie Smith says:

      I totally agree. I’m trying to keep my friends not run them off or make them resent me! 🙂 It’s much easier and simpler on everyone if we all feel the situation ends fairly.

  6. Flexo says:

    I’ve had much more success working with friends than working with people I didn’t know ahead of time. And when I work with friends, who are almost always on the same page as me in terms of goals, I always make sure they’re taken care of, particularly with other opportunities.

    Great post!

    • Carrie Smith says:

      That’s a really good point. Most of the time your friends really “get you” and where you’re coming from when you work together. It definitely helps!

  7. Curiosity Killed the Blog says:

    Personally I think you got ripped off! =P

    Seriously, though, I feel like I should always offer discounts to my friends. If they want to pay the full amount, I’m not going to karate chop them or anything, but I want to offer a lower rate because they’re doing ME a favor by trusting me not to screw up their sites. 

  8. Ryan says:

    I think it’s good to pay friends and strangers the same amount. I mean, assuming the quality of work is comparable, you’re getting the same services either way, right? And I agree that the trust factor is already there. You know and trust the person, which gives you peace of mind. 

    My dad recently hired some college students he knew to help him with landscaping at his house instead of hiring professionals. In years past he used professionals so he was familiar with the going rates. He paid these students the same as what he paid the pros. Also factoring into his reasoning: he’d rather help out students and support the local economy than pay a large business. So you have that potential benefit as well. 

    • Carrie Smith says:

      Helping the community and supporting the local economy is a HUGE deal to me too! I love having the opportunity to do that while paying someone I trust to help me. Paying everyone the same is a good starting point for sure. Excellent points @69c9c47479579d7615ccf300bfbb8765:disqus.

  9. This is very interesting advice which is contrary to the normal way of thinking. Usually friends are happy to “hook up” their friends just to be nice. More often than not, the favor is returned.

    This advice could backfire. What if the friend being paid takes offense to the payer insisting on paying full price? They might be hesitant to do business again to avoid awkwardness.

    You make some good arguments to support your stance though. Something to think about. Site looks great, by the way!

    • Carrie Smith says:

      You make a good point @Matt76Allen:disqus Paying your friend less could backfire just like paying them more could too. It’s a fine line and sometimes a sticky situation to sort through. I guess the best thing you can do is, weigh out each person’s needs differently.

  10. Andrea is awesome! I’m going to ask her to give my site a facelift soon as well. I agree that I would much prefer to pay a friend more than a stranger for all of the reasons you listed. I would also know much more about that person’s personal life, and I’d want to treat them out or give them money whenever I am thankful for something that they did – and doing work for me would be a huge reason to be thankful!

  11. The new format looks great.

    I don’t know why people do this.  Personally I try to “tip” or pay someone a
    little extra for the work they do for me. 
    But they usually refuse to take it J

  12. Bichon Frise says:

    Being a small business owner, I avoid doing business with friends and family at all costs.  The analogy I make is the best friends in college who choose to become roommates and the relationship falls apart one semester in.  The smallest thing can make the relationship fall apart.  So, when a friend and/or family member approaches me about doing what I do for them, I ask myself, do I value my relationship with this person more?  or do I value the business more?  Unfortunately, this is from many years of experience.    

    Or another example is we are doing landscaping.  A good neighbor down the street is a landscape architect.  We will not use him.  Why?  Because if we hate his design, what if he becomes offended if we tell him we don’t like it?  What if we decide to preserve the relationship and accept a design we don’t like?  Then we are stuck with landscaping we hate.  The downside is too great to risk relationships or hating our yard.  So, we take our business elsewhere. 

    Another saying is, “even a dog doesn’t eat where it shits.” 

    • Carrie Smith says:

      You make some excellent points! I share your opinion most of the time, or am doing it more and more. I’m learning from experience, it’s not smart to mix business with relationships. I agree, there are few that can withstand that type of thing and it definitely makes for awkwardness if it doesn’t work out perfectly.

  13. The problem with working for someone you know like a friend or relative is that they can sometimes expect something for nothing – or very little. If you are happy to accept work under those conditions there shouldn’t be a problem. But, if you can’t afford to do work for less than the going rate you have to make choices.

  14. KellyGreen says:

    The site looks great! 
    I do some side photography work for some friends and tend to charge less for those projects. I do this because I want to help my friends out with something that is otherwise expensive, and I enjoy doing it. Luckily those projects are supplemental so I don’t get weird over price. 
    I do agree with Bichon that situations can get sticky if someone doesn’t like your work and egos get bruised, but in these situations I find that just being up front and honest is the best way to enter a deal with a friend. They should be familiar with your work so they know what to expect for the outcome.

    • Carrie Smith says:

      I agree Kelly, being upfront and honest is the best way to go. Dealing with friends and family can get uncertain at times, but if you keep the communication flowing, I think it works out better.

  15. Aaron says:

    Hm – this is an interesting point that I’ve never really thought about. I think I would have to agree with you – why not pay our friends more!

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