How does your social circle affect your budget?

People are social creatures. We tend to mirror those around us. So if you’re trying to manage your budget, cut costs, earn more, and generally become more financially savvy, you should take a long, hard look at the people around you.

Does your social circle consist of good influences and role models? Or are your friends and family encouraging unhealthy financial habits?

Like it or not, our social circle—colleagues, neighbors, friends, family—​plays a huge role in shaping our attitudes and behaviors towards money. If you’re concerned that the people in your life are not supporting your decision to live a more budget-conscious lifestyle, here are a few tips.

1. Pick Who You Hang Out With Carefully
You tend to imitate those around you. I’m not saying you should completely give up spending time with your friends who are more carefree with their money; after all, friendship is priceless.

However, for the time being, maybe you should focus on spending your Friday nights with the portion of your friends that tend to be more cost conscious.

If all your friends are getting the VIP bottle service at a night club, you may be tempted to do so as well. If you hang out with that group of friends that would rather get a frozen pizza and watch Netflix, then you’ll most likely do the same.

2. Suggest Cheaper Activities
How can you spend time with those friends who like to spend? Be the person who suggests activities.

Your friends might fall back on their standard habits of dining out at restaurants or hitting up bars if no one suggests an alternative. Taking it upon yourself to mention a different activity means you can pick something that’s both fun and wallet-friendly.

Going on a night hike, playing board games, playing soccer at the park, watching movies at home, or having a jam session in the living room are all great options.

As an added bonus, you may become more popular with your friends because they’ll no longer have to come up with fun ideas or activities. You’ll naturally become the central organizer within your group of friends. Who knew pinching pennies could lead to stronger friendships?

3. Get Your Spouse on Board (If You Have One)
Nothing can decimate your budget faster than a spouse who either doesn’t share your vision, or doesn’t enjoy following through with the execution.

By motivating your spouse, you’ll also motivate yourself. Sometimes the best way to stick to a plan is by enlisting the help of an accountability buddy. There’s no one better than your spouse or partner to fill that role.

What should you do if your spouse isn’t interested? Ask him or her to create a vision board to discover the underlying “why,” the motive, behind this new-found frugality. If they don’t understand your desire to budget, they might after recognizing that you’re skipping a restaurant tonight so that you can make a down payment on a house, or retire 5 years earlier than planned, or get rid of your car payments once and for all.

You can explain that budgeting isn’t about depriving yourself from a few indulgences. It’s about inching closer to your big goals. Skipping dessert doesn’t feel like such a sacrifice when you realize the money you would have spent on chocolate cake is now extra money in your Hawaii travel fund. Keep that wallet safe.

Check out my related post: How to balance between wants and needs?

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