Not too long ago, I used to dislike the word budget. It wasn’t until I started saving money to go back to school that I realized the importance of having a realistic budget.
I was able to save nearly $35,000, quit my job, go back to school, travel, and start my own business. How? Because I learned how to manage my money and say “no”.
Was it easy? No way! It was tough in the beginning, but learning how to say “no” has allowed me to stick to my budget, set long-term goals, and feel good about my spending.
Sometimes we feel pressured to spend money and make financial decisions based on what others think. For example, buying a home outside of your budget so you can be in the same neighborhood as your friends or going to a destination wedding that you can’t afford so you can celebrate with your friends.
It’s never nice to feel like we are being the cheap or boring person in the group, but spending money that could have gone towards funding our long-term goals is a surefire way to derail our budget. Instead, remind yourself that you have plans for that money. Plans that mean more than going out for dinner and drinks every weekend.
Sometimes we have to delay our gratification and make small sacrifices in order to help us reach our BIG goal. Trust me, it’s worth making these temporary spending cuts in the short run so we can achieve our ultimate goal.
I love spending time with my friends and family and I don’t want to feel excluded. However, if you want to keep your budget in check, it’s important to learn how to say “no” to peer-pressured spending sometimes.
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Keep it positive
The last thing you want to do when saying “no” is to use a bogus excuse. Instead, keep it positive. Talk to your friend or family member about your current goal. Whether it’s to save money to live debt free, buy a home, go on a vacation, or start a business, it’s important to let your friends know why you’re saving money.
Telling your friends about your goals can inspire them to dream big too. This doesn’t mean you need to share your personal finances with your friends; you’re just letting them know your financial priorities right now (such as paying bills). Chances are they’ll want to save money too but were too afraid to say so.
Instead of saying things like “I can’t afford to spend extra money right now” or “I don’t want to go out for brunch with you”, say “I’ve been saving a lot of money by eating at home this month. My homemade French Toast is out of this world!”
In my experience, I have seen friends react either positively or negatively when letting them know that you’re trying to save money.
The friends who will pressure you to go out and spend money (even after you told them about your goals), are not really your true friends. It’s a tough fact to face, but it’s essential that you surround yourself with financially responsible friends that encourage you to achieve your goals.
Find your why
Why are you saving money? Decide what you really want and find your why. Write down your “why” and what steps you need to take in order to achieve your long-term goal.
For example, when I was working at my first job, I was trying to save money to go back to school. Every time someone pressured me to spend money, I would politely let them know that I was currently saving money for school. Many people respected my choice because they know the economy is not great right now and saving money is important.
Plus, reminding myself of my “why” allowed me to stick to my budget. Whenever I felt tempted to spend money on frivolous things, I would ask myself, “Do I really want these pair of shoes more than I want to go back to school?” Keep your eye on the prize and focus on what you really want.
Suggest a more affordable (or free) option
For some reason, we are afraid to give people the impression that we can’t afford something. This can cause us to buy things or do things just because we don’t want someone to think that we couldn’t afford it.
I know this sounds silly, but people need to stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. Chances are, the Joneses are probably deep in debt trying to fund their own lifestyle.
When I was trying to save money to go back to school, I didn’t want to feel like I had to give up having fun. Soon I discovered that there we plenty of ways to have fun without breaking the bank.
Remember that your friends want to see you. It’s not really about going to the movie theatre, their goal is to hang out with you. Instead of saying “I can’t afford to go to the movies tonight”, say “I’m saving up for school right now, but if you’d rather watch a classic at home, I’ll bring the wine [or your favorite movie snack food]”.
Some other ways you can save money on dining and entertainment include restaurant coupons, going to free events, visiting museums during their free hours, borrowing free books and movies from the public library, going to free festivals or concerts, and so on.
Suggest a different time
Most people want to meet for dinner, which is usually the most expensive meal of the day (especially when you order appetizers and drinks). Instead of saying “no” to hanging out, suggest meeting later for dessert instead.
You can also suggest having a potluck style dinner at home. This is something that my friends do quite often and it’s actually a lot of fun! Mix it up by choosing a theme, such as movie theme, book club, your grandmother’s favorite recipe, and so on.
You can even have your own DIY wine tasting or beer tasting at home. This is something that my family enjoys doing during the summer months. Each person brings their favorite wine or beer to try (keep it affordable for everyone by setting a price limit).
It’s okay to just order a water
Yes, it’s possible to say “yes” to hanging out but “no” to spending money. For example, I have gone to Starbucks with friends and just ordered a free ice water. I have also gone to lunch or dinner with friends and just ordered a beverage instead of food. This allowed me to still enjoy social gatherings without having to wreck my budget.
Budget for some “fun money”
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t ever go out and have fun — that would be silly! It’s important to include a section in your budget for “fun money”. This is your guilt-free money to spend however you want and whenever you want.
Whether it’s $10 a month or $100 a month, everyone’s “fun money” will look different and will depend on your long-term goals and income level.
I just recently moved into a new neighborhood and it’s tempting to try all the new restaurants in the area. However, I currently set a monthly budget for myself so I can afford to try one new place each month. This allows me to continue to save money for my goals, while still having some fun too.
No matter what your budget is, make sure you stick to it. Remember that your budget is essentially a tool that tells your money where to go so you can reach your long-term goals.
Try a no spend challenge
If you’re like me, you need to have a money challenge in order to make saving fun. I am currently doing the “no new clothing challenge” and while it can be tough at times, it’s helped me save hundreds of dollars! Read my tips for doing the no new clothing challenge here!
This doesn’t mean I say “no” to going shopping with my family or friends. I’ll happily go to the mall with them, however instead of spending money, I help them pick out items they need.
Another fun challenge to try is the “no eating out challenge”. This is an excellent way to save money, especially if you’re used to going out for lunch everyday or grabbing takeout on the way home from work.
If your coworkers often ask you to go out for lunch, you can use this “no eating out challenge” as an excuse. Eating more homemade meals can also help you lose weight and improve your health, which is a win-win in my opinion!
If you’re new to meal planning, I recommend trying the $5 Meal Plan. Many of my readers have told me great things about how this service makes planning meals each week simple and easy. For just $5 per month, you will receive a delicious meal plan, where every meal will cost about $2 per person (or less). Click here to try it free for 14 days.
Be honest with your friends and family
Sometimes our friends or family members will ask for money to help support their charity or fundraising event. Of course we always want to say “yes”, but when you’re living on a tight budget, it’s not easy.
It’s okay to be honest with your friends and family by telling them that you’re saving money for “X” right now. Remember to be polite and ask if there is a non-monetary way you can help them.
Being honest with your family or friends about your financial goals may not completely eliminate peer-pressured spending, but it can certainly help. This doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be invited out anymore or be excluded from the reindeer games – it’s just letting your friends know that you have a budget and you’d prefer not to go out all out the time and spend money.
It’s okay to just say “no”
If suggesting a different plan or time doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to just say “no”. Your friends will understand that you’re trying to stick to your budget and they won’t see you as a party-pooper.
It’s better to say “no” than to go out and spend money that you don’t have. Next time, initiate the hang out by inviting your friends over or to a budget-friendly activity, such as a picnic in the park.
Over to you — how do you say “no” to peer-pressured spending?
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