Being frugal in my everyday life usually isn’t too difficult. I spend my days at home taking care of my kids, playing with them and teaching them new things. During down-time, like their naps, I try to get as much work done as possible for the sake of keeping my household and my freelancing business afloat.
Both the kids and I look forward to the time of day when their daddy gets home from the hospital (he’s a med student) so we can spend time together as a family. There aren’t too many opportunities in our busy lives for us to overspend or splurge on un-needed things. But when we have a chance to hang out with friends or our extended family, staying frugal can be more difficult.
Hanging out with friends and family that you don’t get to see too often usually means spending money on things you normally wouldn’t, like travel, going out to eat, additional groceries if they are staying with you, or many other temptations along the way. Here are two times that your friends or family may be influencing you to spend more money, even if they don’t realize it, and what you can do about it.
As I mentioned, seeing friends and extended family is a rare occasion since we live in the Northeast and most of them are in the South. When we do have those rare visits, we usually have to spend more money than usual in one way or another. But my husband and I usually try to keep our extra spending to a minimum.
If you friends or family aren’t aware of your debt, tight budget, or that you are working hard to save money for your financial goals, they may suggest forms of entertainment that you’d rather not pay for. When this happens, you have two choices. Either you can confess to them about your desire to save money and opt out of their suggestion in favor of a cheaper choice, or you can blow your budget by going along with their plans. Hopefully your friends and family will be supportive enough to understand your reasoning for cancelling or changing plans if you do decide to go that route. Whenever possible, that’s the best route to choose vs. going over budget.
Keeping Up With the Joneses
As my friends and I have gotten older, we’ve taken different paths through life. When we were in high school and college we were all pretty much at the same financial level, but now that some of us are married and others are not. Some of us have higher or lower-paying careers, and we’re not necessarily all on a level playing field anymore. Still, it’s hard when friends tell you about their latest vacation, a new car, or the house they’re looking at buying.
When this happens, keep in mind that just because it appears that your friend is having more financial success than you are right now that isn’t always the case. Perhaps your friend put her vacation on her credit card or is going to have to take on a large loan for her new car or house. Though she seems excited about these purchases, she may not be as financially secure as she is making it seem.
In an ideal world, we’d all feel 100% comfortable sharing our financial goals and budgetary constraints with our friends and family so we can easily avoid these overspending temptations, but that’s not always the case. Hopefully by suggesting cheaper alternatives for entertainment and avoiding feeling the need to “keep up” with your peers will help you keep your spending under control when your friends and family are around.
Do you spend more when your family is around?