Friday, July 2, 2010

How to Save Money When Your Friends Are Big Spenders

Did you see the movie The Joneses with Demi Moore or Confessions of A Shopaholic with Isla Fisher? Do you live in a city where you feel the need to drive a nice car, wear the best designer clothes, carry the nicest bags, eat at the nicest restaurants? Do you feel pressure to keep up with your friends? Do you find it hard to do it?

When I first moved to New York City many years ago from a suburban East Coast city I felt the need to fit into the large cosmopolitan city and thought fitting in the scene meant looking the part of a New Yorker with their expense accounts for dinners, expensive accessories and designer clothes for work. I soon found myself caught between buying a new jacket or making that month's rent. I learned a hard lesson at an early age, you have to live within your means and forget about what everyone else is doing. You gotta do what is right for yourself, your family, and your budget.

I devised a plan for myself that I thought could help you if you are finding yourself in the same situation:

1.) Hang out with friends who have the same budgets. If you have friends who are big spenders, only see them in certain situations where you feel comfortable. Try to do things with your friends that do not cost too much money. For example, meet a friend for a walk and grab a cup of coffee one afternoon or browse the museums together.

2.) Set a budget for yourself. Plan to save some money every month before thinking about spending your money on a new IPad or a new pair of shoes. Think about what you can realistically afford and spend your money according to your budget.

3.) Find hobbies that do not require large amounts of money to be spent. Try a yoga or cardio class. Learn how to play tennis. Take pottery making classes. Hobbies that help you develop a new skill or exercises your body usually give you the same kind of feel good serotonin you get from buying a new pair of shoes or a new gadget. Maybe do a potluck dinner night with friends and have everyone bring something so it does not have to be a large expense for any one person. This way everyone can also taste different types of food and get together to socialize and have fun.

4.) Keep a gratitude journal. Look at your life objectively and write down how much you have in your life. Record the happy moments in your life. Relish the little things like the smell of the air after a long rain. Realize that your life is plentiful and cherish it.

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