I was recently interviewed by Creditcards.com for a story entitled “6 Tips to Keep Your Family From Busting Your Budget.” It’s a great article with some super tips on how to fend off those pesky family members wanting to help spend your money for you. In addition to this article, I wanted to add my two cents on how to deal with spend-happy friends. Peer pressure is everywhere, and I’m sure everyone has at least one friend who likes to blow money just for fun. Here are my tips for dealing with the people in your life who may want you to “live it up” with them….because, you know, all the cool kids are doing it!
Don’t Give in to Peer Pressure
Seriously, why in the world does peer pressure still exist in adulthood? We are all grown-ups with our own jobs, bills, homes, and kids. Why do people feel the need to pressure me into spending my own hard-earned cash? One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone tries to lay a guilt trip on me for not wanting to spend my own money in my own way. Peer pressure should be outlawed after high school as far as I’m concerned. If someone is trying to pressure you into blowing money and it is not in your budget, be an adult and say “no.” A true friend will get over it.
I no longer feel bad about being frugal, saving money, or spending my money the way I want to. I am putting my family’s needs first, and everything else has to be a distant second. After all, no one cares about my own money more than I do.
If I spent all of my disposable income constantly going out with my friends, they certainly wouldn’t be there to foot the bill when my kids are ready for college. They won’t be there to pick up the pieces when I’m ready to retire. They also won’t be there to pay my bills if my husband loses his job or we have some health crisis. There is absolutely no reason to apologize for making smart financial decisions. You are bound to make some people unhappy part of the time, and it’s OK. I no longer apologize for living my own life the way that I want to. You shouldn’t either.
Don’t Worry About Being Normal
Better yet, ask yourself, “What is normal?” Unfortunately, in the old U.S. of A., being normal usually means being broke. At the very least, normal in these parts means living paycheck to paycheck or at the very edge of one’s means. When you convert to a frugal lifestyle, expect to get some pushback from family and friends. It’s perfectly reasonable for people to wonder why you are being so cheap and stingy all of a sudden. It is natural for them to question why you no longer want to eat lunch at Applebee’s every day. It may be normal for someone else to eat up all their cash, but it doesn’t have to be “normal” for you.
Set High Goals for Yourself
What’s that saying? “Reach for the stars, and land on the moon?” Honestly, it is out of character for me to say something as cheesy as this. However, I think that shooting for the stars is great advice when it comes to personal finance. While you may not fully achieve each goal, you will be better off for having tried in the first place.
Imagine that you are trying to build your emergency fund over 6 months, and your goal is to reach $3,000. After a few hiccups along the way, you only get to $2,500. You are still better off than you were before. Improving your finances doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.”
As a society, we are some pretty messed up folks when it comes to money. We are living above our means individually and as a nation. We don’t accept responsibility for the problems we create. We are flat broke and nobody seems to know what to do about it. My advice is to take a stand for yourself and for your family. Refuse to let other people dictate how you spend your own money. Learn to tell people no and don’t give in to peer pressure. Who knows? Maybe you will set a good example for others by being so responsible with the money that you make. Maybe you won’t. But at the very least, you will be being yourself. It’s OK to be you. Just make sure to be the best YOU, that YOU can be.