Let’s face it: most of us don’t have unlimited funds. Although I often wish this were the case, budgeting is a necessity for me to maintain a balance between saving sufficient money and spending when I feel I can afford it. However, there is no question that there is often social pressure to spend money that isn’t exactly within the budget. Even though only good intentions are surely driving our acquaintances to push us to spend more, it can make a significant dent in anyone’s bank account.
For my peers and me, now is the time that many of us are graduating from college and entering into the working world. This means new coworkers, which inevitably means new social engagements. Nobody wants to get off on the wrong foot at a new job by seeming like you’re not interested in getting to know your coworkers, but going out for lunch five days a week or drinks at happy hour here and there adds up fast. Instead of joining in on every opportunity or opting out of all of them, set boundaries for yourself. Maybe go to the first few outings at your new job, but then limit yourself to only one a week. This will allow you to still have some bonding time with your coworkers but also save you a ton of money.
This same idea applies to your friendships. Obviously it’s fun to be able to grab drinks or dinner with your friends, but it’s also expensive. Although nobody likes to experience the infamous “FOMO,” sometimes it is necessary to miss out every once in a while. If you let yourself have a night out with friends once a weekend instead of every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, you’re probably saving yourself a large chunk of cash while still maintaining your social circles.
Sometimes we are pressured by those around us to go to costly social engagements that we can’t really get around. For example, a close friend or family member’s wedding isn’t something you would want to avoid attending because of a low bank account, but between the price of gifts and that new dress, it gets costly. Even a friends’ big birthday dinner might not be something you feel comfortable passing up, but you know the restaurant she chose is outrageously expensive. In these situations, you need to compromise. Buy a nice wedding gift that you can find for a good deal instead of giving cash as a gift, and spruce up your old dress that you didn’t really want to wear again. At dinner, make it clear that you’re running low on money and can only pay for your portion rather than splitting the bill up evenly.
Finally, it is no secret that there is constant pressure to stay up-to-date on the latest trends or technologies. Sure, I like to look like I dress well and have some cool tech-y toys, but I certainly can’t afford to go out and buy every season’s hottest pieces or each new iPhone that is released. If it really is that important to you, go out a buy a few inexpensive trendier items that you know will be “out” by next year anyway, but don’t get down on yourself for not buying that $300 bag or updated phone you can’t really afford; there will be a new cool style or gadget to replace those before you know it.
Money troubles can be the cause of many anxieties, but social demands shouldn’t have to be one of them. Balancing spending and saving is the key to being able to enjoy yourself without succumbing to all pressures. Choose what you feel comfortable spending your hard-earned money on, and don’t feel bad when something is out of your budget. Trust me, you won’t be the only one.