Financial Cost of Peer Pressure
If you’re spending more money when you’re out with friends, you’re responding to an unspoken need to keep up
Question: I’m just about to turn 25 and I’ve always been a little on the responsible side financially. I’ve read your advice on investing and I’ve already put away a substantial amount on a mutual fund. However, there are times I find myself spending more than what I should. It usually happens when I’m around other people. Help? — Ken S. via Facebook
Answer: You seem to be on the right track. However, remember that having an investment doesn’t mean you shouldn’t diversity.
If you’re spending more money when you’re out with friends, you’re responding to an unspoken need to keep up. People call it “keeping up with the Joneses” or “being trendy.” It is peer pressure, plain and simple.
Financial peer pressure manifests in spending hard-earned cash to make sure you get the latest items or the kinds of things bought by your friends who either can afford to spend more, or are living beyond their means. Perhaps, you can aspire to become like the first group of friends for they seem to have their financial house in order. This can mean they have enough money in savings and investments, and extra funds for a few “treat” expenses.
You definitely don’t want to be the friends who live beyond their means because their spending habits create financial problems.
Financial peer pressure can affect you. Many young adults may look to the spending habits of people near them to form their own.
I’m not saying that you cut your ties with these friends but you need to understand that saying yes to them can hurt your financial future.
Here’s how you can break the cycle of peer pressure, but still keep your friends:
Don’t let them get to you. Everyone has different circumstances in life. They might be well-off or don’t pay the bills themselves, while you’re the main breadwinner of the house. You shouldn’t overspend to keep up with them.
Shopping trips are dangerous because your friends put pressure when they see you look longingly at something. In such situations, it is a good idea to bring a fixed amount when you go out.
Keep your eyes on the ‘prize.’ The ‘prize’ here being your goal. Know that if you give into your friends constantly, it will take you longer to reach your goal. Saying ‘no’ or ‘maybe next time’ to constant badgering will be your best weapon against the pressure.
Suggest alternatives to having to spend. Your friends wouldn’t be your friends if they didn’t share interests with you. Instead of planning a night out, suggest staying in. Organize your friends every month for house parties.
You have limits, and we all have at least one friend who can’t seem to stop themselves from being trendy all the time. Having limitations and goals in life doesn’t mean you’re a lesser person. It only means you know what you want and you’re doing everything to reach it.
Here’s a brotherly tip: If your friends are pressuring you into flawed habits or worse, preventing you from breaking bad habits, it’s time to look for new friends. Wisdom is key.
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Efren Ll. Cruz is a Registered Financial Planner of RFP Philippines. He is best selling book author of Pwede Na! (A Complete Guide to Personal Finance) in 2004, and is the chairman and president of the Personal Finance Advisers Philippines Corporation.
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