Yet people will often surround themselves with friends and acquaintances who push them to spend way more money than they should.
It's a fact that it can be very difficult to sustain any kind of disciplined savings plan if the people you hang out with happen to be much more affluent than you are or simply unwise about their spending choices.
She simply felt I was being a stick in the mud when I could not go along with her ideas for fun.
It was very stressful, and actually led to a serious strain in our relationship over the course of our three weeks on the road.
And I know several students who come from poverty and ended up struggling with the affluence all around them at college and the expectations to spend money they simply didn't have. Sadly, some of them have found the strain and sense of being an alien outsider too great to bear and have ended up dropping out of school.
The truth is if we want to meet our budget and savings goals, it’s extremely helpful if we hang out with people who share similar values, or are at least supportive of them. And it's extremely difficult if we socialize with people who want to spend, spend, spend.
An Example of Negative Peer Pressure and Your Bottom Line
These days, a very real case in point is eating out.
Somewhere along the line, it seems to have become the norm to go to a restaurant when friends get together, instead of just gathering at someone’s place as was more typical in the days of my youth.
Or friends will insist on going to a bar for several hours, instead of just going out for one drink at happy hour. And it’s not at all uncommon for people to do this a couple of times a week or more.
With sit-down restaurant meals averaging $25 per person, and drinks at bars costing $5-8, that can easily come to $140 per month, or $1680 per year.
And that’s for a conservative estimate for one person. Double that amount to more than $3300 if it’s a household of two. Carry that out over 5 years, and we're talking $16,000! That's a lot of money to spend on forgettable restaurant meals and drinks.
That's the kind of expense that wreaks havoc on the budget of the average earner. It’s simply not sustainable over time, and can cost dearly in terms of savings.
It takes a strong character to be able to stand up to peer pressure, but it is essential to do so for your own financial well-being.
Some Alternatives to Try Instead
There is no shame in saying to friends that you cannot afford to do something, such as going out, or that you’d prefer to do something else. For all you know, they may be feeling the same pressures and would welcome the chance to spend less.
Try suggesting some of these alternatives to expensive meals or drinks in restaurants, bars, or clubs:
- Recommend getting together at someone's apartment, or hanging out in a park somewhere.
- Watch a movie from your DVR together instead of spending $10-$15 for the cinema.
- Meet for a drink for Happy Hour and enjoy lower-prices on drinks, and sometimes free food.
- Skip the drinks altogether when you go out to eat - they're major profit makers for restaurants with their huge mark-up.
- Stick to one single drink, instead of multiples for major cost savings.
- Order from the appetizer menu instead of the dinner one.
- Go out for dessert or ice cream instead of dinner.
- Or just meet for coffee instead of a big meal.
- And breakfast is always a cheaper option than dinner.
- Research free or lower cost things to do in your area. It's quite easy to do with all the internet resources available now.
And if your friends cannot or will not understand the concept of spending less - or even spending nothing at all - when you get together, then it just might be time to consider seeking out different companionship.
Or learn to like your own company.
There is always that.