We live in a curious world in 2018. Our lives are broadcast online to a degree never envisioned 100 years ago, and the impact of this constant visibility is far-reaching indeed. A 2017 study found that adults in the UK spend as much as three hours – give or take – on social media a day! That’s a lot of time seeing the lives of others, and that’s a lot of influence on our own day to day.
This form of social pressure – where we feel inclined to live to other’s standards – can have a profound effect on our ability to save money. As the saying goes, living up to other people’s highlight reel is unreasonable and achieving a frugal lifestyle will invariably involve accepting the fact that you don’t need to spend for the sake of looking active and social.
Here’s how the pressure can build up, and how you can avoid it effectively.
A matter of priorities
Further research by the National Savings and Investments savings provider made a somewhat startling conclusion: teens and young adults commonly go into overdraft rather than be left out of their friend’s activities. That’s a seriously damaging habit, and it’s one that has to go.
This subject can be akin to pulling a piece of string once you tackle it; the friends who are happy and supportive with your frugal decisions are valuable, but it may be the case that your priorities upset others. It’s an important moment where you can ask yourself what you value most in those around you, and it’s worth considering the fact that you should always surround yourself with people who genuinely have your best interests at heart.
While it’s undeniably fun to go shopping with friends, it can lead to overspending in record time. When the good times are rolling in and you’re blazing a trail through a shopping mall with a few people, you’ll always end up spending more. You may also be more inclined to make purchases you aren’t entirely sold on, and the playful banter that marks any friendship can push you to spend when you know you shouldn’t.
Instead of declining to spend time with friends in such places, you can tactfully shop solo in person or online for key purchases. This lets you leave time to accompany your friends on shopping trips, avoiding the potential danger of needing to buy certain items and eventually overspending.
Don’t let the one-uppers win
Besides the constant reminders of other people’s social situations on Facebook and other platforms, there will always be the person in your social circle who has to be on top. Different to the subtler pressure to be on-par with your other friends, this type of individual may directly lead you to spend more money to show that you have the same financial muscle as they do.
If you know someone like this in your group, it’s worth considering what value they have to you. Once again, we should all take the time to cultivate friendship groups that are full of people who support and better us, instead of causing insecurity and bad habits. Instead of letting someone who brags about their purchases tempt you to spend, consider ignoring them until they go away and pester someone else.
Take the reins
If you feel insecure about your savings priorities, it can sometimes be best to take the lead and become the advocate for frugality in your friendship circle. It’s certainly a delicate balance; you don’t want to upset and disrupt your friend’s good times by encouraging no spending, but with the right words it can be something you can all enjoy together.
By being willing to suggest savvier spending, you take the burden of action off your friends and make it easier for them to follow. Small things can stack up and add precedent to saving more in future; consider beginning with small actions like discounted movie trips and budgeted picnics with supermarket food instead of expensive restaurants and fast food establishments.
Before you know it, you’ll have made saving a part of the standard conversation. You’ll benefit, and your friends will thank and respect you for having been brave enough to get the ball rolling.
Your savings matter
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