Person A and Person B have been friends for years. (There are C and D as well, but B has really been the target lately.)
A and her SO have college under their belts, have never stayed at a job longer than a few months because they think that their labor is worth more than the $11-$15 they've made in the past. They don't believe that the frequency at which they quit jobs and then spend months unemployed matters. They're convinced the reason their pay is low is racism, not them quitting jobs so often. (editing to add something important: they're white, and claim racial minority status because her SO's white mother was born to white parents when they were on vacation in Honduras, and so she has Honduran citizenship, and somehow that makes A's SO as well as A racial minorities.)
B and her SO didn't get to go to college. B started a small business and worked at it for years, through thick and thin and good economy and bad, and her SO has only worked at three companies over the last 18 years. He has had no periods of unemployment, and has been at his current job for three years, which is his shortest job since he was 16. B's SO's salary includes 6 weeks paid time off and puts him in the top 30%. About 4 years ago, B's SO's career really flourished, partly as a result of his strong work record, which led to a couple companies battling for him for a year, before he finally accepted the offer where he now is.
When A and B met, B and her family were struggling after losing their home in a no-cause eviction and they were living in a motel. A and her family were living in a house owned by her SO and had extremely low rent. A and her family were eventually kicked out for not paying rent. Since then, they've gotten another eviction on their record, and have continuined quitting jobs. B and her family have bought a large house and now frequently take vacations.
A and B have little in common outside of some major shared interests, but how they can participate in them in drastically different. B can, and does, take classes in one of their major interests and attends professional performances and is known to several people well-known in the industry, while A only watches from afar and makes it known that she's extremely jealous, which means that B has to conceal a lot of her activities. B also goes to retreats that A would like to go to, retreats that take a lot of investment to prepare because they're costumed retreats, and A doesn't like to hear about it very much. B also frequently attends low-cost events, for which she usually picks up the entire tab because she can't very well buy ice cream for her kid of A's kid isn't getting any. B's family is comfortable, but really can't pick up the tabs for taking A on vacation with them, or for those retreats or classes or shows, though B has certainly made an effort in the past (and it hasn't gone over well when A couldn't line up child care and had to bail last minute on a $200-Broadway tickets or stopped going to $250-dance lessons because of child care or deciding not to go to a $150-per-person vampire ball because she was too tired after a day or running errands, things she might not have skipped had her own money been invested).
Which ultimately leads to this question:
Can friends financially outgrow friends, especially when their abilities to participate in their shared interests results in one having to conceal activities because they upset the other? tl;dr info: The hugest part of the income disparity is because one friend and her SO, who both went to college, quit jobs very frequently while the other friend and her SO, both who didn't get to go to college, have slogged on doing the same ones and buiding up their clients and working up in the industry. So choices do factor in.
Editing to add something maddening: This weekend there's an out-of-state event we (I'm either B, C, or D) all planned on, and the three of us came up with the money to cover her. It's cost us about $1,200, plus the money we came up with for incidentals, like food. A couple hours ago she messaged us and told us she forgot to ask her SO's mom if she can watch the son, and it's too late now since the grandma has other plans, and her SO "deserves" a weekend to himself if she gets to go on vacation (in other words, he doesn't want to parent their son). She asked us if we can cover the cost of a babysitter for the weekend. She has one lined up for $400. If we can't cover it, then she can't go. We are PISSED THE FUCK OFF right now. So we either come up with another her $400, or we've lost the $1,200. Plane tickets don't transfer to different names.