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# How much was a friend worth?

An analysis of text showing the historical amounts of money people were willing to lend to a friend
 (+4, -2) [vote for, against]

I was hearing on NPR a while back an excerpt from a fiction story from about the 1920s where a guy gave \$50 to a buddy who had just gotten out of jail.

A website inflation calculator tells me that amount in today's money is \$513.47. Now, if you had written a non-fiction story about the present day, would the reader find it believable that you gave that buddy \$500? No, but they might find it reasonable that you gave them \$50.

What I propose is a massive text search that looks through the literature, both fiction and non-fiction ( most kinds of fiction have to have a level of plausibility ), to see what amounts of money people were willing to lend, and see what changes occurred.

Have people been willing to lend a steady \$50 since 1920? Well, the generosity of friendship has not been sheltered from inflation then.

 — lawpoop, Jan 22 2009

Inflation calculator http://www.westegg.com/inflation/infl.cgi
Find out how much previous amounts of money are worth in today's dollars. [lawpoop, Jan 22 2009]

Thought it was more like this? Your_20Network_20Worth
[theircompetitor, Jan 23 2009]

Ten to the Whopper, it seems. http://news.cnet.co...get-a-free-whopper/
[AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jan 25 2009]

 See now it depends on what kind of friend you're talking about, as well as circumstance.

 I've handed a friend \$2K at one point, no questions asked, at a time when that was pretty much all I had without selling off my car. He needed it, knew it was emptying me out but hell, that's the kind of friendship we have. I know I get at least one kidney, kind of thing.

 Same guy at another time handed over fully half of the price of the first car I bought, when we changed our minds and didn't buy the one I had planned to buy, instead getting a more reliable one. This is the freindship we have. Other friends it is different.

I can't imagine calling someone a friend, if I weren't willing to fork out at least a couple hundred if they needed it. Anyone else is an "acquaintance".
 — Custardguts, Jan 23 2009

 It would be hard to draw any conclusions from the gathered data. For example, it used to be very difficult to borrow money from a bank, whereas now almost anyone can get a credit card. I would guess this made lending money to friends much more prevalent in times past.

I think it would be more interesting to see how much people gave (rather than lent) to their friends in need.
 — xaviergisz, Jan 23 2009

I borrowed 6k from a friend once to scrape up the last of the down payment on my home, then found a mortgage company that gave a 3 percent of purchase cash back so I could pay the debt off within two weeks.
I've found that if your friends know that you will go to extreme lengths to not ask for favors, that when you really need help you'll usually get it.
 — 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jan 23 2009

So, my fine bakery buddies, did I mention that I'm a little short right now?
 — lostdog, Jan 23 2009

 I'll give a friend in a desperation situation a couple hundred, but I doubt I'd loan half that. If they choose to pay me back, fine, but I'd rather not have them formally in debt to me.

 The few times I've loaned friends larger ammounts, I've had something in writing. friendships go sour, and we're talking amounts that would have meant I couldn't pay my mortgage if it hadn't gotten paid back.

One major factor is the amount of money the person has available. It's one thing for Bill Gates to lend out even a hundred thousand, it's another for me to lend out 5k. I suspect this index would have problems.
 — MechE, Jan 23 2009

//[then something about livestock]//
"Lest you assume the appearance of an ass"?
 — gnomethang, Jan 24 2009

Una, I gatta say, ''I luvYa'' Hope we can be friends...\\ friend I loaned money \\ Really really I do, I do!
 — Sir_Misspeller, Jan 24 2009

 I loaned a friend of mine £2700 for cosmetic surgery; now I don't know what he looks like.

Tsh boom.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 24 2009

 I had a similar idea once - blood donation rates, listed at the end of the news alongside the financial report as a kind of good will index.

 A useful rule of thumb is to lend only what you can afford to lose, and as MechE says, don't let your friendship depend on whether it's paid back. Same applies to lending books.

I've lost two 'friends' partly through allowing too much leeway with money they owe me, but in retrospect they are both arseholes who would have screwed me over one way or another in the end.
 — spidermother, Jan 25 2009

//but in retrospect//
Now that's the thing, ain't it... there are friends you'd trust with your life but *not* your wallet (or beer or gf, etc)
 — FlyingToaster, Jan 25 2009

[up_on_cloud_nine] What's an £ ?
 — lawpoop, Jan 25 2009

 It's about \$1.38 US, or \$2.10 Australian, or \$1.70 Canadian or, if you meant //What's an '£'//, it's ascii code 156.

<elsewhere>
"Where am I?"
"You're under a hot-air balloon."
</elsewhere>
 — pertinax, Jan 26 2009

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