How to deal with social pressures to spend

FIRST PUBLISHED: 2014

FULLY UPDATED: 2017

Iona Bain

Picture the scene: it’s Friday night and your friends want to go out to a bar or a fancy new restaurant.  But you’re not sure if you can afford it – perhaps you’ve been splashing out a bit too much lately, you’re saving up for a big purchase or you’re just feeling a bit skint. What do you do? More importantly, what do you say to your friends?

Here’s another scenario: your pals want to go and see a film, a new play or a big gig. You’re up for it in theory but you’re not sure that the cost is worth it. Do you find a way to pay for it? Where do you draw the line?

There are several reasons why we are compelled to say ‘yes’ to every exciting invitation when we’re young. Firstly, we work hard so we want to play hard. Many events genuinely appeal to us and we know that we’d have a great time. You love that band, you’ve dying to see that film, you need to let your hair down.

It can be tricky for us to budget well, save and generally track down the cash for all the things we genuinely want and need. So the situation gets more complicated – and critical – when some social invitations are more of an unknown quantity. Do we really want to go to that restaurant that our friend loves? Is that nightclub really all it’s cracked up to be?

Yet we feel compelled to say ‘yes’ even when the social event is being chosen for us. In an ideal world, we would be controlling where we go, what we do and how much money we spend. In the real world, many of our friends make up our minds for us – and we go along with the plan to avoid a boring night at home.

So how do we keep up with our friends without breaking the bank? Maybe we can find ways to dip in and out of nights out and costly activities. Maybe we can propose cheaper alternatives on occasion to ease the pressure.

And here are three bonus suggestions – how many more can you think of?

Take the reins – Plan a low cost or free event e.g. go to the movies on a discount night or free gig or museum day

Work out what you can do – rather than ignoring an invitation to go out or do something, see if you can join a portion of the night. e.g. say you will only come for the drinks rather than the meal

Share the cost – Invite everyone to come over and bring something e.g. for the footy instead of the pub or Sunday dinner instead of a takeaway

What do you think? Tweet me @ionayoungmoney or leave a comment below…

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