7 Nice Ways to Tell Your Spendy Friends You're Staying on Budget

Unless you're invited to hang out at a friend's house, social invitations typically require spending money — going to the movies, grabbing a bite to eat, hitting an amusement park.

Ignoring an invite or saying that you're busy can get you off the hook, but friends might get suspicious if you pull the same excuse over and over. (See also: Is Peer Pressure Keeping You Poor?)

You don't have to justify your reasons for not spending. But if you don't want friends or relatives to get the wrong idea or think that you're avoiding them, a simple explanation goes a long way. Whether you're on a financial fast or have other plans for your money, there are friendly ways to tell someone you don't want to spend money.

1. I'm Saving Up for the Holidays

It doesn't matter if you're buying gifts for family or taking a vacation, planning for the holiday season is a good reason (and good excuse) to scale back on spending. And since many people feel the pinch during the holidays, those in your social circle will likely understand your reasoning, and won't give you a hard time for turning down pricey invitations.

2. I'm Trying to Stick to My Budget

Saying, "I'm on a budget" is one way to say you're broke without actually uttering the word. But even when you have extra money, budgeting can prevent overspending.

If you receive an invitation to join friends at a restaurant, or if you're invited to a network marketing sales party, be honest and let the host know that extra spending isn't in the budget right now. This doesn't necessarily suggest that you don't have money, but that you're careful with how you spend your pennies. Your willpower might rub off on others.

3. I Have New Responsibilities

Social invitations can go beyond dinner and a movie, and your friends might plan a vacation together or suggest a shopping trip in the city. A responsible adult counts the cost before any large purchase. And if you have new responsibilities or financial obligations (such as you've started a family or recently purchased a home), now may not be the best time to spend money on an expensive adventure. If you're the first one in your group to have children or buy a house, you might need to kindly remind your friends how these changes impact personal finances. And remember: specifics count here. So if you feel comfortable, feel free to go into detail about said new responsibilities.

4. I've Had Some Unexpected Expenses Arise

Maybe you haven't taken on new responsibilities, yet unexpected costs have zapped your disposable income. You may have some extra money, yet realize it's wiser to put this cash towards getting your finances back on track — and right now, frivolous spending is out of the question.

5. I'm Planning for My Future

Friends don't need to know the nitty-gritty details about your plan. Whether you're growing your retirement fund, saving up for a house, or planning to buy a vacation property, you'll never reach long-term saving goals unless you're disciplined and willing to turn down a few invitations.

6. Can I Suggest Another Activity?

The fact that you don't want to spend money doesn't mean that you don't want to spend time with friends. Another friendly approach is suggesting an alternate activity — one that doesn't cost a dime, or an activity that costs very little.

For example, if a friend suggests a getaway, but you don't want to spend money on airfare, hotels, and meals in an expensive city, suggest a cheaper option and look for a destination within a one or two-hour drive of your house. Spend the day enjoying the local sights, and drive back the same day. Pack a lunch and snacks and only spend money on gas.

7. Blame a Scapegoat — if Necessary

Explaining that you're on a budget or saying that you're planning for the future are friendly ways to tell someone that you don't want to spend money. But sometimes, these reasons don't put an end to spending peer pressure, and you might need to use a scapegoat.

This suggestion comes from a friend who felt pressured by co-workers to dine out for lunch. Her colleagues ate out just about everyday of the week, spending upwards of $30 to $40 a week on lunch. Although joining the group wouldn't create a hardship, she couldn't justify spending so much on lunch. The pressure didn't stop until she nicely used her husband as a scapegoat, saying he didn't like the idea of her spending $100 a month on lunch. Fair? Maybe. Effective? Yes.

Can you suggest some other friendly ways to tell someone you don't want to spend money? What excuses have you used in the past? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

I think a true friend doesn't just accept people for who they are but wants them to become better. If they can't accept the reason you give them I'm not sure they are truly looking out for your best interest. "Sorry can't play, working on becoming a millionaire, want to join me?"

Guest's picture

I'm planning on using "I'm saving up to buy a house." It's both true and something my peers will respect enough to give me pressure slack.