Keeping up with the Jones is not a new trendy lifestyle. We like what we like but we also like what our friends like. Financial peer pressure is difficult when a friend persuades you to spend more than you have. It isn’t always shopping, but trips to movies, out to eat and to clubs that keep your wallet in a tail spin. We have to make the decision to spend more and too often utilize credit cards to keep social status. It’s hard to stay home when everyone you know is going out. It’s important to regulate your budget according to what your household income can afford not what your social calendar should look like.
1. Live in reality. You don’t know what your friend’s finances look like. They may be over shopping themselves. You have to be realistic about what your income can afford to purchase new items without creating more debt. If you have to have the latest and greatest, start saving up for it and pay cash. Save your credit cards for emergencies or unexpected costs so you don’t end up relying on alternative money.
2. Create a financial plan. With a budget plan in place, you are less apt to do damage to your finances. It’s much harder to ignore a good money management system that works. When you see positive results at the end of the month, you won’t want to break the cycle. No matter how hard they try, your friends will not be able to convince you otherwise.
3. Pay yourself each month. Create an area in the budget for entertainment purposes. Break it up throughout the month so you are able to do something each week. You may not be able to go out to dinner each time your friends go, but you will not be left out either.
4. Treat yourself for a job well done. When you make it through the month without overspending it is good practice to give yourself a bonus reward. Do what you want with this money. Add it to your next month’s entertainment expense account or start saving for the next technology upgrade. This end of month bonus will help fuel your determination to make the next month’s budget work too.
5. Let your friends know about your financial situation. You don’t have to share all the details with them; but you can let them know that you have financial goals in the works and will have to be selective towards extracurricular activities. Who knows, you may have some friends coming to you looking for advice. After all, money troubles are rampant in this consumer friendly society.
The hardest part to any plan is getting started. It isn’t easy to watch your friends go out without you, nor is it fun to be the only one without the latest and greatest gadget. Remind yourself that you will be the one without long-term debt, have a higher credit score and a sweet retirement lifestyle. Keep your personal finances a priority. Your true friends will understand. Don’t be surprised if some of them would like to join you.