We’ve all experienced peer pressure spending before. And for me, one of the most frustrating things about trying to pay down debt, save for a goal, or trim that monthly budget, is having to say no to spending money on occasion. I was so used to saying yes to everything, and while I had fun and felt included, it came with a steep price tag.
Saying no is not usually easy. You don’t want to miss out on the fun things that your friends are doing! But you need to make sure you don’t lose sight of your goals and why you’re trying to spend less in the first place. Sometimes your friends won’t understand, but your friends aren’t the ones in control of your future.
Here are a few techniques I’ve used in the past to try and spend time with my friends – without breaking the bank:
Suggest a different activity
Sometimes someone suggests a certain activity simply because it was the first thing they thought of. So if you’re asked out for a late dinner, suggest meeting up at a coffee shop instead. Or, better yet, you could throw on a pot of coffee, fix up some snacks, and invite them to your house instead! Instead of spending an evening dancing at the bar, try taking a drop-in dance class at a studio or gym instead. Or, instead of paying $10 to go to the gym, grab your friends and go jogging outside – or put on a fitness DVD and invite them over to your house instead.
This is especially effective when your friends want to get together to watch “the big game.” Instead of heading out for beers and greasy pub food, offer to host everyone at your place instead. Your friends will bring the food and alcohol – all you have to do is clean up after they’re gone. And if you’re lucky, a few good friends will stay behind to help you with the dishes. :) I once had an acquaintance help me scrub my kitchen floors by hand after a particularly rowdy get-together the evening before.
For every expensive activity your friends suggest, there is a cheaper activity that can be just as fun. Use your imagination and see what you can come up with!
Create a challenge and invite your friends to participate
I love a good challenge, and a great way to deal with peer pressure spending is to create goals you can achieve together as a group. Challenge yourself to bring your lunch to work for an entire month, or instead of heading out for a $5 latte in the afternoon, try drinking the free coffee in the break room for as many days as you can. Once you’ve decided on challenging yourself to a specific goal, ask your friends or co-workers to join you. That way, you’ve eliminated the chance of peer pressure spending, you can support each other in an effort to save money, and you can be social with them at the same time.
Spend less money
This might seem like an obvious thing to do,b ut sometimes when you’re with friends, you can get caught up in the excitement. Before you know it, the bill comes and you’re out $60. There are plenty of ways to save money at restaurants, such as ordering a bowl of soup instead of a meal, splitting entrees with friends, skipping the alcohol, or leaving out appetizers and desserts.
The same goes for when you’re traveling – sometimes you just have to say no. Especially when there are things your friends want to do that you just don’t want to spend money on. On my trip to NYC last year, I opted to skip out on spending $75 to see a Broadway show (it’s just not my thing). When traveling Europe, I’ve elected not to pay to see certain things because they just don’t interest me. And that’s okay! If there’s something you really don’t want to do, it’s okay to say no. Believe it or not, your friends will understand.
Find other ways to contribute
If you are invited to a party or a potluck, but can’t find the money to buy a bottle of wine, or a specific dish you’ve been assigned to bring, ask if you can bring games, a few DVDs, some music, or even offer to help clean up after everyone leaves instead.
Be honest with yourself and your friends
If your group of friends are always doing activities that are out of your price range, sometimes being honest is the best approach to take. You don’t have to go broke or into debt just to get a little social interaction into your life. Your true friends will understand and be sensitive to your financial situation. Chances are, they’ve been in that position before, and might even be able to suggest cheaper alternatives to the activities they have been used to doing.
For me personally, peer pressure spending is harder now than it was when I was broke and trying to get out of debt. At least then, being in debt was something most people could relate. But now my friends and family know how much money I make, and they know I can afford most things if I really wanted to. But just because you have the money doesn’t mean you need to spend it. :)