Your Friends Are Putting You in Debt

Wallet Empty from Keeping Up with Your Friends?

It’s an accepted practice in the weight loss world. Stay away from friends who overeat and dine on junk food, so that you don’t do the same. But did you also know the same applies to your finances? Hang out with people who value a frugal, financially responsible lifestyle, and you’ll be more likely to save and spend wisely. Spend a lot of time with spendthrifts, and you’ll soon be in debt.

Peer pressure is strong when it comes to spending and saving—no matter your age. Think back to school. Most likely you’ll recall that the most “popular” kids often had the most expensive stuff, and everyone else was green with envy. And that doesn’t stop when we become adults. Many perfectly reasonable people who know better succumb to spending fever and take on a debt blob trying to keep up with the neighbors.

How do your friends spend?

Take an objective look at the financial behavior of those with whom you spend the most time. What do they do with their money? What do they say about money? How do they feel about saving and investing for the future?

If analyzing the finances of those close to you seems a bit extreme—keep this in mind. Your social network has more impact on your finances than you may realize. If those people you spend a lot of time with often engage in expensive activities, chances are you also spend right along with them—no matter what you promise yourself. Just like a dieter will swear to stay away from donuts, going into a donut shop with friends is likely to lead to a slip-up.

Even more importantly than how your friends spend money is how they view saving and investing. If they believe in living for the moment and don’t think about or plan for their financial future, they’re not going to understand when you discuss your financial plans, and they certainly won’t offer valuable advice and encouragement. In order for you to achieve your dreams, you need people in your life who understand and share your vision and support and encourage you.

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Find financial camaraderie

Few people achieve a goal without support from other people. If you want to build a financially thriving life, you need people in your court who encourage you to save and spend and invest wisely. This doesn’t mean not ever going out and enjoying yourself, but it does mean making wise decisions regarding when you do go out and how much you spend. Hanging out with people who go out once a week and spend a moderate amount of money may support your financial goals, whereas socializing with those who spend a lot of money whenever the whim strikes most likely will bust your budget.

Good influences through financial communities

If you are interested in saving money and investing, it makes sense to surround yourself with other like-minded people, which is easy to do if you join an investment club. Such groups are composed of individuals interested in learning about investing and sharing financial experiences. Some clubs pool investment dollars to invest, while others simply offer education and inspiration.

Joining and participating in online communities that promote building a healthy financial lifestyle is also a good plan and allows you to connect with others who are committed to saving and spending wisely. Your newfound friends will offer valuable advice, encouragement and support regarding your debt reduction and savings goals.

Julie Bawden-Davis is a staff writer for SuperMoney. Her mission is to help fight your evil debt blob and get your personal finances in tip top shape.
Photo: stuartpilbrow