5 Ways to Dodge Peer Pressure to Spend


Your friends have a direct influence on your money. What do you do when you feel pressure from your friends to spend money you don't have? (See also: Should You Talk to Friends About Money?)

1. Play host.

Have a potluck or dinner party at your house. Invite your friends over for a cheesy movie marathon and spend the night mocking them. Host a BYOB beer or wine-tasting party. Everyone gets to eat, drink, and be merry for cheap, and unlike a bar, you'll actually be able to hear the conversation. You look like the gracious host, and no one needs to know you're trying to save money.

2. Spend more time around your creative friends.

When you hang out with friends who have the newest high-tech gadgets or expensive new cars, you're bound to feel inferior. Spend more time with your friends who think for themselves. Maybe you've got a friend whose passion is old silent movies or a friend who collects something obscure. You'll get to know your friend better and being around someone who doesn't follow the crowd will force you to think about what's important to you. And you'll probably be inspired to follow your own passions.

3. Blame it on your values.

It's hard to suck up your pride and say to your friends, "I can't go out because I don't have the money." So fib a little. Tell them you've committed to spending more special time with your partner. Tell them you're cutting back on the bar to train for a race. Tell them you've joined a book group and have reading to do. Sometimes replacing one excuse (broke) with another (working on physical fitness) is easier because you're not as emotionally tied to it. And as long as you're telling all your friends about your newfound virtue, you might as well join that book club for real.

4. Change the subject.

Say you're hanging out with a friend who wants to spend the day shopping for clothes. You're still paying the bills from the last time you went shopping. What do you do? Trick her into something else.

"The mall's going to be packed on a day like today. You know you never showed me those pictures from your vacation in Greece?"

Or, "You know, I have a problem and I'm so distraught. Do you think you could give me some advice?"

It happens all the time — you and your friend have plans to do one thing, but throughout the day you get sidetracked and end up doing something else completely. But this time, do it deliberately.

5. Find new friends.

Don't get rid of your old friends. Just add new ones to the mix — preferably ones who share your financial goals and values. If that's a stretch, at least find friends who can help you focus on something other than spending. When you're getting to know a new friend, it's the conversation that counts — not what you do together.

How do you manage peer pressure to spend when you're around friends who don't share your views on money?

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Will Chen's picture

Great article Lana!  I hope you find lots of "creative friends" here on wise Bread.  =)

Myscha Theriault's picture

Holding your own while socializing with spendthrifts can be tough. I'm interested to see how this discussion unfolds.

Lana Goodrich's picture

Myscha, you're right. I think I'm lucky because I can be stubborn and obstinate when it comes to certain types of peer pressure, but I think a lot of people have trouble doing that. And of course, there are always certain people or certain situations where we're more likely to be swayed off track. I'm a big believer that your character is shaped by the people you spend most of your time with. It can be hard to improve while your closest friends stick to old habits.

Myscha Theriault's picture

Especially when you might respect them in so many other areas. But let's face it, money interfaces with practically every activity. Even if you're not spending any, it's sort of acknowledged that it's "free", and so the money issue still comes out.

One area that I've had to develop (and I'm actually working on a post to this end) is a strategy and ideas list of how I can be generous without spending outside of my budget. What's interesting is, I feel it takes more time and energy to give non-financial gifts. Some people appreciate and recognize that they actually have a greater value. Others don't, which can make it hard.

Guest's picture

While I think this was meant to be a positive blog, it's giving off a really negative vibe. I get the impression that the author doesn't like people who have the latest toys, gadgets, etc. Why are the "more creative people" the one's who don't have the latest stuff?

And tricking or lying to your friends? How about being honest? Or exercising some restraint when going out with friends who just want to spend money?

Instead of feeling pressured to buy drinks at a bar, stick to soda. Most places do free re-fills so you only pay a buck or two. Going shopping with a girlfriend? Try concentrating on finding her something instead of yourself. She'll appreciate the help and you'll save money.

I did really like idea number 1 about throwing a bash at your house where everybody brings something. But then I read number 5 and feel like you're advocating dividing our friends into the rich and poor category.

Who knows. I may be the only one who read too much into this. I feel like there was a ton of good intention here but looking for excuses or lying to your friends is the wrong way to handle having a smaller budget than other people.

Lana Goodrich's picture

Barbara, the intent of the article certainly wasn't to encourage people to do anything that makes them uncomfortable. But speaking of my own experiences, sometimes there are situations where I've felt pressured by my friends and in need of an excuse to save their feelings and mine. Now, if you're a straight-shooter, or you have gracious friends, you won't need any of the ideas in this article. And as for #5, rather than dividing friends into rich and poor, I think of it more as spending different types of time with different types of friends. Even if I find myself interested in saving money, there are other activities I may enjoy with my less-frugal friends, and I think it's better to keep them and add friends who are supportive of my financial goals than to burn bridges.

Myscha Theriault's picture

I think I can see where you're coming from Barbara. And if it hadn't been for the way Lana wrote the piece, I might have "gone there with you". But I think in this case, she was just trying to keep it upbeat and funny, as well as a resource for those who may not feel comfortable discussing the "financial nitty gritty" with friends and coworkers.

I'm comfortable for the most part, but sometimes you just need an out with those folks who just won't "let it drop". Some days you're up for the struggle of laying it on the line, and some days you're not.

I'm not for dishonesty either. But I'm not sure that was Lana's intent. However, thanks for standing your ground and pointing out your take on things. It takes all opinions, and certainly the more people that are comfortable discussing all of the sub-issues when it comes to financial stability the more likely others are likely to find some source of support when they need it. By the way, I really like your suggestions of helping the friend shop, as well as some of your other ideas.

And Lana, I'm sure the light hearted tone of your piece helped some people as well.

Good job, ladies!

Myscha Theriault's picture

Amen. You said it much better than I did.

Guest's picture
Cindy M

Wow, guess I've never had a problem with peer pressure to spend and never will. I'm 53 with a strong work ethic; always had a quarter in my pocket and a backup plan even when I was a kid. Man, I wish to this day I'd been born 150 years ago. I hated being a teenager in the 70s, hated the in crowd, the clothes and the music, never cared much about doing what everybody else did. I could not wait to burst out of high school, didn't marry or have kids when everybody else did and didn't care about communicating much with the old buds after that; was too into work and college courses though I stayed in my own town. Bought a house when I was 23, didn't marry till I was 28 (and he was much older), stayed married 7 years and we divorced, no kids. My experience is that as I've gotten older, I've tended to want the company of church acquaintances in particular (invaluable), a very few work peers, neighbors and family to spend time with. I've always worked second shift by choice because I love the daytime to be outdoors working in the yard. For the past 11 years, I've worked from my home, which I love, and I sure don't miss the office politics. Just cannot imagine wanting to spend much time with anybody who doesn't share my bible-believing values and ideas about frugality, what would be the point, I wonder. And I would not want to be young again if you paid me, ha-ha.

Guest's picture

I'm enjoying looking at all of these ideas on how to curb the peer pressure of spending out of your budget and agree that to lie would be morally wrong but it is a major challange to hang out with friends who spend way more than we do. I've put the damper on a few relationships over the years by not having that common ground of unlimited spending to hang out but guess what???Now with the rotton economy, my spendy friends are really feeling the pinch and having a tough time of it now and want to know my tricks. I'm being cautious with the tips as they are not always appreciated and is sorta like showing your undies. But it feels go because to be frugal is just plain smart. Like saving for that rainy day.

Guest's picture

i gotta go with what barbara said about #3 & #4. maybe telling the truth might help break the spiral of spending. the trouble with not telling the truth is that you then have to remember the lie. who needs that much mental clutter? personally, i find it easy to say "i'm broke". i think that all lying does is feed into the spending beast.

Guest's picture

Instead of lying to your friends about why you aren't spending money so that you don't feel left out, I found sometimes you can create a trend. Talk about how much money you are saving, or your goals for your money, or what a great deal you got on something, instead of paying full-price... overtime i've noticed my friends start saying similar things, treating it as a virtue and not something to be ashamed of. overboard consumerism is something to be ashamed of. and when i see friends who are spending a lot of money on this and that i always have to remember that it doesn't mean they are living within their means. they may be in debt, they may not have any savings, or maybe they got a big inheritance, who knows. point is, that's why you can't be trying to keep up with other people, because your situation is likely to be very different. you have to decide what your goals and interests are and make other people admire them.

Guest's picture

I agree with comments 10-12...especially 12. It's been interesting to watch my circle on DINK friends go from buying every new iPod offering and checking out every new restaurant in town to spending weekend evenings at someone's house watching movies and enjoying potluck dinner. The funny thing is that for us, little has changed. We all make way more money than we need, and so far, only 1 layoff in the whole crowd. But saving money has become "what the cool kids are doing". I promise--your friends that are spending like crazy probably want an excuse to stop--so help them!

Guest's picture

hope some people know how to deal with the peer pressure out there in the real world!