Are Your Friends and Family Costing You Money? Here’s What You Can Do
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While I’m on vacation this week, please enjoy this contribution from my friend Sarah, at High Fiving Dollars
It’s hard to be frugal when you have friends who love to spend money (and sometimes guilt you into it) or you feel like you have to do things out of obligation. Surely you’ve been guilted into putting in money towards a gift, spot a friend $5 for a cup of coffee or go out to dinner even if you didn’t feel like it.
You want to keep to your frugal ways but your friends and family aren’t necessarily understanding of your ways. So how can you still have these people in your life without breaking the bank?
Here are four ways to say no and still keep your sanity.
Buy Your Own Gifts
Everyone has experienced this at some point: maybe it’s a co-worker’s birthday or someone you know is about to have a baby. Someone thought it was a good idea to pitch in for a gift, and it ends up being an amount larger than you have in your budget.
Just because a few people want to go in for a big gift, doesn’t mean you do. Instead of outright saying no, you can let those people know you intend on buying your own gift. If you already know you’re going to be attending an event, try to purchase a gift before anyone asks you to go in together on one.
That way, if you’ve already gotten a gift, it’s that much harder for someone to guilt you into spending more than you wanted to or can afford.
Start Saying No A Little Bit At A Time
To be blunt, you need to get comfortable saying no, or else people will take advantage of you. It’s understandable that it’s hard because you don’t want to feel like a jerk or have people think badly of you. However, the more you give into what other people want of you (i.e. spend all your money), you’ll feel resentful and broke.
If you do turn down invitations, start small. For example, I used to have friends who loved to go shopping and I ended up spending hundreds of dollars by the time we left. The next time I was invited to go, I capped it at two hours I was at the mall with them.
The next time, one hour, until I stopped going with them at all. With another friend, I said no to dinner invitations but it was ok if we met for lunch.
Saying no this way means you’re not completely cutting them off, but you’re limiting yourself as to how much time (and money) you spend with them. Doing this gradually means you’re not offending anyone and will leave you feeling less guilty as a result.
Bring Cash Only
If for some reason you feel like you can’t turn down an invitation somewhere, bring cash only. That way, you’re limited in what you can actually spend. For example, if you head out to a fine dining restaurant, you can’t go all out and get a three course meal if you don’t have the cash.
The idea here is to make it so that your friend or family member can’t entice you into spending a lot of money. Let’s say your budget for the week for meals out is $20; that’s all you bring in cash. Even if you do spend all of that money, you’re at least not over budget.
As for work situations, do the same thing. That way you do have a reason not to fork over money for a group gift since you don’t have the money for that and a cup of coffee.
Invite Them Over Instead
If you’re really strapped for cash but still want to spend time with loved ones, invite them over instead. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, even inviting over for coffee is good enough.
Better yet, if you do want to have a big get together, ask friends and family to bring over a dish. You still get the pleasure of their company but you’re not spending too much to do so.
You can also do something where you and a friend take turns coming up with activities to do. So you can suggest an activity where nobody is tempted to spend money (like a nice hike or bike ride) and still have a fun time together.
While it’s virtually impossible to say no all the time to friends and family who like to spend lots of money, you can try to reduce the amount you spend. Start small, work up your courage to say no and your wallet will thank you.
How do you handle friends and family who entice you to spend more than you want? What are some other tricks you use to not spend a lot of money? How do you balance not hurting feelings when telling friends or family ‘no’?
Sarah Li Cain a financial storyteller who weaves practical tips and strategies into her work so that those trying to change their money mindset can see themselves in the starring role. She loves answering reader questions on her blog, and sharing her struggles with money by revealing current experiments she’s running. Connect with her over on her website at www.HighFivingDollars.com
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.
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