We’ve probably all experienced peer pressure at some stage in our life.
For me, it was pleading with my parents to allow me to go to the local disco because ‘Everrrrrrryone is going!’.
You would think that peer pressure is something we grow out of later in life. However, it just shows up in different ways. Financial peer pressure is more common than you think, and it can be very subtle, appearing at times when you want to fit in or live that ‘YOLO’ lifestyle.
While it used to be underage discos that we felt under pressure to attend, now it’s expensive dinners, holidays and luxurious gift-giving, where we’ll feeling the pressure. In our social circles, usually, everyone earns a different salary, which can make navigating certain social events more difficult.
While some may think nothing of splitting the bill at a fancy restaurant, some may have made it their business to save the pennies and order the cheapest thing on the menu and stick to tap water. Others may turn their nose up at a cheap and cheerful weekend getaway and prefer a lavish girls trip to Vegas.
We are socially conditioned to want to look good to our friends and feel bad if we can’t go to things, but the ‘YOLO’ lifestyle isn’t very budget-friendly. This financial divide is something that we all deal with in our adult life, and it can be tough to navigate without the right tools under your belt.
‘No’ is a complete sentence
If you can’t afford to go somewhere, don’t be afraid to say no. You need to live within your means, and if the night out or impromptu holiday is going to leave you broke, just say no. You don’t need to offer any explanation, other than that it is out of your budget. Good friends won’t put you under pressure to spend beyond your means.
Give without expectation
When it comes to gift-giving, expensive doesn’t always mean better. Just because your friend got you an extravagant birthday present, doesn’t mean you need to do the same. We shouldn’t be playing tit-for-tat, especially when it comes to spending money. A thoughtful, inexpensive gift can be just as lovely as a pricier one.
Be clear about your financial goals
It’s always a good exercise to write down your financial goals for the coming year. Whether that’s aiming towards buying your first home, saving to go travelling for a year, or simply putting money aside for a rainy day, if you have a goal in mind, you know how much money you can afford each month for socialising. You can then simply stick to your budget and focus on doing the activities you really want to do each month, instead of feeling obliged to do everything.
Don’t feel pressure to keep up with the Jones’s
Just because all of your friends have the latest gadgets or products, doesn’t mean you need them. Expensive purchases don’t automatically mean happiness, and living in debt certainly doesn’t mean happiness. Many of us have an ‘I’ll just put this on my credit card’ mindset, to keep up appearances. However, there is nothing fun about spending beyond your means.
If it’s social media making you feel the pressure, unfollow anyone that makes you feel bad about your financial situation or maybe take a social media detox for a few days to clear your head and focus on the things that do matter.
Plan for the person with the least amount of money
Planning social activities around the lower end of your circle’s budget ensures that no one is left out – yay! There are so many free and low budget offerings in most cities that with a bit of research you can have a great catch up without breaking the bank. Spending time with your friends should never be based on having enough money to do so. I always find I have the best craic with the gals when we’re sharing a cheap bottle of vino and having the chats