By: Kristina Hall, Quizzle.com
No matter what your money situation, it's easy to spend like your money will never run out, especially when the company you keep tends to spend like mad.
One of the perks I had during my recent college experience was living within walking distance of all my friends, which meant rarely needing to spend a lot of money to have a good time. But things are different now and draining my wallet seems to be a consequence of hanging out with friends.
Peer pressure to spend money affects people of all ages. It's your friend who always wants to go out for lunch or a co-worker who keeps up with the latest trends and fashions. That's the downside of all of this -- we feel pressure from those around us to act a certain way even if it's beyond our means. This is where the lesson we learned in grade school of "Just say no!" comes in handy for smart money management.
Don't spend unnecessarily
Within a group of friends, there can be a very diverse mix of financial situations. Some people can afford to spend more on their social lives and some live on a tighter leash. Don't let friends who spend money all the time influence you to spend money you don't have worked into your personal budget.
Find other ways to enjoy spending time together. Host a weekly or monthly get together to watch a popular show, like Dancing with the Stars, or have a board game night. Rotate who hosts the festivities and come to an agreement about food and drinks. Nothing has to be extravagant; it is supposed to be a low cost way to hang out with your friends.
But wait a minute! There are always two sides to every argument. Why should people (and their bank accounts) have to suffer because of popularity? The answer is: they shouldn't.
The power of people
You can and should use the buying power of your group of friends to save everyone some money. Look for places that offer group discounts on tickets to events or restaurants that give bigger groups discounts on meals. Go shopping with friends who have similar tastes to take advantage of offers like "buy 3 get one free," and split the cost so everyone gets a discount.
There is also a Web site that is dedicated to this exact practice. Groupon is a company that offers discounts to local businesses in more than 20 major U.S. cities. Here is their basic pitch according to the Groupon blog:
"Groupon subscribers receive free daily emails alerting them to an exclusive deal from a top local business (restaurant, spa, indoor activity, the World's Largest of something, etc.), but these deals only go into effect if a minimum number of people agree to buy."
This site provides a great service to their users. They encourage people to use the power of peer pressure to make sure everyone gets a break while helping local businesses in the meantime. The best way to ensure you don't miss a good deal is to spread the word about the offer and share the discount with anyone who would be interested. Plus, there is a new deal featured every day, so there is bound to be something for everyone.
Is there a middle ground? Does a way to have fun with friends and be kind to your wallet exist? A lot of businesses have created days in honor of the saving savvy social butterfly.
Celebrate on "special" days
The "special" days I'm talking about aren't birthdays or holidays (although this certainly could apply to them as well). The next time you want to spend time with your friends and go out rather than stay in, do it on a day that your regular hang out spot offers deals.
It's the "happy hour" concept applied to activities instead of restaurants and bars. Bowling alleys usually have one night a week where games only cost a dollar or shoes are free. Golf courses frequently have twilight hours where you can golf at a discount because you only have so much time to play before it gets dark. Certain movie theaters offer matinee prices all day long during the middle of the week.
If you are going out to eat or to the bar, go during happy hour and on the days where restaurants offer special prices. Some places have "kids eat free" nights or all-you-can-eat pasta days. One of my favorite places in college had "half-off Wednesdays," where everything on the menu was half price.
I realize these "special" days usually attract a crowd - everyone wanting to have their share of a great offer - but that just means you'll have to plan ahead. Make reservations if possible or allow your schedule to be flexible and account for waiting time.
So what does all of this mean for the peer-influenced money manager? Continue to be smart with your personal finances. Avoid following in the footsteps of liberally-spending friends, but use the weight of a crowd to save everyone money. So the next time you hear the phrase "Come on, everyone's doing it!" make sure your peers are pressuring you to have fun while saving money, not throwing it away.
Looking for more money saving tips? The Quizzle Blog's got you covered:
- 55 Money Saving Tips (Your Wallet Will Thank You)
- 6 Tips to Help you Save for a Down Payment on a Home
- Free Stuff from Uncle Sam
- 8 Ways to Save Money as a College Student
- Perfect Weddings Can Be Frugal Weddings
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Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pierofix/