Our friends influence us more than we may think. Not just for encouraging extra rounds at the bar but in the little things like our lunch choices and how we spend our evenings.
Many writings on the subject of money are filled with tips and hints:
- “why not bring your lunch from home?”
- “buy a used car”
- Even “How about delaying your haircuts?”
However it’s not just a matter of doing these things yourself with iron-willed willpower, but making them fit into your own life alongside your social network.
For example if all your friends leave the office to go for lunch then you’ll find bringing your own lunch everyday less appealing. Similarly if there’s a ‘new car’ culture in your workplace, driving that old used car might lead you feeling like you’re missing out.
If you’re reading Magical Penny you are most likely wanting to reach some financial goals that you’ve set for yourself. You can’t always simply get new friends (nor might you want to) but here are two ideas that I find helpful to make sure I am still moving towards my goals.
1) Get competitive
Not everyone enjoys being competitive but it certainly is a good motivator to stay on track financially. One of my favourite personal finance writers, Ramit, often talks about “dominating your finances” and I love the energy associated with this attitude.
- *You* have to make a decision to keep saving regularly and not spend all your earnings each month.
- *You* have to decide to be proactive and earn about investing instead of watching TV when you come home from work.
- You can *dominate* your finances whilst your friends simply ‘get by’.
You have to be careful not to compare yourself too much to others but I’ve certainly found a bit of healthy competition with friends a great way to stay on track with savings goals…(including with a few particular regular blog commenters around here… 🙂 )
2) Accept you’re sacrificing something that means less to you than your goal
If you want to save for a deposit on a house AND find money to invest regularly each month AND go on adventurous holidays AND not live in poverty for the rest of the year, then you need to be making conscious spending choices. You need to choose between going out each weekend, or buying a new gadget when you feel like it and the choice to work towards your goals.
You may have friends without such demanding financial goals and they might seem to have more money to spend on every-day ‘stuff’ but you should embrace the subtle satisfaction of knowing you are choosing to save and then spend money on more meaningful medium and long term goals.
This post was inspired by my awesome friends who when told I was considering a new laptop computer asked me if it was life-style inflation and if I had fully considered my options! You guys rock.
Do you find yourself going against the grain amongst your friends when it comes to saving and spending? How do you stay on track? Share an idea in the comments!
Monevator has a great article on friends, money and happiness:
Will a high salary make you happy?
Also, Magical Penny is Editors Pick for this week’s carnival of personal finance! http://bit.ly/b2PH68
The blog was also featured in the carnival of financial planning