Peer Pressure? Choose Yourself!
By Tonya Rapley
We often associate peer pressure with grade school and being a teenager. However, as we get older peer pressure doesn't go away. It evolves, often becoming more subtle and costly.
The peer pressure could come from friends insisting that you go to a bar or party with them after you've indicated that you don't want to for financial reasons or family pressuring you to remain at a job that's stable, but doesn't pay what you are worth. Friends and elders can be a source of wisdom; but they can also pressure you to make poor professional and financial decisions.
I was recently faced with the difficult decision to change wedding plans after we realized the wedding was becoming more about others than my future husband and me. People were pushing their wedding wishes on us and telling us what we should and just had to do. Before we knew it we were $5000 over our planned budget. After a serious conversation between the two of us, we changed our plans to a more inexpensive option and decided to immediately create boundaries going forward.
Here are 5 things you can do to handle financial peer pressure:
Recognize the culprits
A truly good friend takes your well being into consideration. They are even able to admit when your behavior encourages them to make better decisions. If you have people in your life that are continuously attempting to curt your goals and negatively influence your finances it might be time to assess your approach to the relationship. If you are not comfortable addressing the situation then this would be a good time to take a break from the friendship or relationship to put things in perspective.
Don't make decisions until you are clear about your goals
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Sound familiar? The statement is popular for a reason. When you make uninformed decisions the outcomes can be costly. It's important to outline your financial goals and priorities even if it's just for the near future. Goals provide you with sound reasons to stave off peer pressure. They give you something to work towards.
Understand that "No" is a complete sentence
We often feel compelled to explain our position or ourselves when it comes to protecting your finances but you don't have to do that. While it is courteous to provide the reason's you come to a particular decision, but you don't have to. Sometimes people will find ways to turn your reasons into an argument, which might cause you to second-guess yourself. Once you become more comfortable with simply telling someone "No", it becomes easier to stand up for you own interests.
Create fun money challenges that include your friends
During one of the poorest times of my professional career I realized that eating out with friends was costing me a fortune. After a conversation a close friend and I decided to go on a dining in challenge. We did it together and agreed to eat at home for a month, unless someone else was footing the bill. We ended up saving so much money and when we felt the need to socialize we invited one another over and cooked in our homes.
Examples of challenges you can do with friends include spending diets, savings challenges, or investment challenges. By doing your own money challenge with your friends it makes it fun and lightly competitive. By getting others involved the peer pressure can become positive.
Unplug when necessary
If you have a certain social presence or hope to, you might find yourself spending money to keep up with the latest trends. This is indirect peer pressure. Social media and other influences can be costly but keep in mind that these visuals are usually highlights from an individual's life. Sometimes you just have to unplug from it all and it is healthy to do so.
At the end of the day remember: It is you who has to live with your decisions. While they will affect others they will affect you first and foremost.