Geesh, It's only $5.00 – A story of financial peer pressure
Photo by: infomatique
“Geesh, It’s only $5.00!“. These were the words I heard uttered by one friend to another in a store we were shopping in a few weeks back. While I didn’t over hear the entire conversation, the two ladies were discussing some type of clothing accessory they were both looking at. Based on what I could tell, the one lady was trying to convince the other lady to purchase one as well. The one expressing the concern with the $5.00 cost was resistant and received the “It’s only $5.00” response in return.
This is a text book example of the financial peer pressure we are exposed to as results and also serves a to back up my opinion that “Geesh, It’s the little things that get’cha“.
The rest of the story
Let’s just play along with this example for a bit and add some, of course fictional, but highly probably additions to the story. We’ll even give fictional names to the ladies: Donna the spender (Lady #1 above) and Judy, the frugal one (Lady #2). After Donna’s comment of “Geesh, It’s only $5.00!” comment, Judy thinks to herself “You know, she’s right, it is only $5.00. I could absorb $5.00 in my budget. After all, I haven’t bought anything for myself in a while.” Then making those famous last words she says to herself “After all, I deserve it.”
Donna and Judy head to the cashier’s line to purchase their $5.00 clothing accessories. Donna decides to head to the local coffee shop to grab a Latte. When Donna politely declines, Donna rolls her eyes and says, “Come on Judy, you know you want one, they are only $4.00“. Then she completely makes the sale by saying “Well if you don’t want one, I don’t want to get one.” She lines up, shoots, and scores! Judy replies, “Well, I don’t want you to not get one….ok I’ll get one too.”
Donna and Judy spent the remainder of the day together, shopping, grabbing lunch, doing even more shopping and then finally grabbing dinner at a restaurant outside the local mall. Donna had a wonderful time, and Judy, while enjoying spending the day with her friend Donna, continued to feel worse and worse as the day progressed. She felt guilty as she knew she was spending money her and her husband hadn’t budgeted. But she just didn’t want to ruin Donna’s day.
After getting home, Judy pulled up her copy of her YouNeedABudget and grudgingly entered the transactions from the day. When she finished she was shocked at how much she had spent, over a $100.00! She double checked the transactions to make sure she hadn’t incorrectly entered anything. Nope, everything was right. She then verified the receipts to make sure nothing had been incorrectly rang up. Everything was correct. She was shocked!
The front door opened, and her husband walked in. “Hey Honey! Geesh , what a day at the office. How was your day off with Donna? Did you guys have a great day together.” How was she going to tell him she broke the budget commitment and how would he react? She felt so ashamed she had let this happen. They were working so hard on getting control of their finances, and now only a few months later she already blew the budget!
Judy looked up at her husband and said “I have something I need to tell you.”
Tips to avoid financial peer pressure
Here are a few tips you can use to avoid getting into a similar situation as Judy:
- Set yourself a daily limit – If you are heading out to go shopping with a friend, set yourself a limit. If you didn’t budget for it, either don’t go or don’t bring any money. This includes leaving cash and/or your debit/credit cards at home. You can’t spend the money if you don’t go and if you do go you can’t spend what you don’t have.
- Talk to your friend – Be honest with your friend about your situation, your budget, and how you know they like to spend money, but it’s just not something you can do right now. Explain to them how important this is and how you need their support. In the story above I would have stopped Donna in her tracks right after she said “It’s only $5.00”.
- Surround yourself with like friends – While I certainly don’t advocate abandoning your friends, I would suggest you begin hanging out more with people that share your financial views and perspectives. These people will encourage and support you, and you in turn can encourage and support them. My M-Network friends and other personal friends I have do this for me. In fact, you my readers actually serve as a constant reminder to stay on track.
- Budget some fun money – I am not an advocate of giving up on quality of life just to save a few bucks. My wife and I both have “fun money” line items in our budget. This is money that is allocated to us to do whatever we wish. I buy a few coffees, lunch, and stuff for my saltwater aquariums with it. She has other things she uses the money on.
- Avoid places where you will spend money – Instead of going shopping, go to the park, have coffee on your back deck, or visit one of the many free activities in your city. There are many other activities outside of shopping and they’ll cost you far less.
The rest of the story
Fortunately, Judy’s husband was very understanding. He knew this was a journey for them and that they would both fall back into old habits every once in a while. In fact, he went out to eat for lunch with his friends instead of eating the lunch he had packed and felt bad about it. They both went online, and transferred over the money from their emergency fund. That in and of itself was enough punishment for both of them, as they had worked for a few months to establish that $1000.00 emergency fund.
The following month, Donna and Judy decided to meet again. Donna arrived at Judy’s house where they drank coffee together and discussed what to do for the day. Donna wanted to go shopping. Judy spent a good hour explained to Donna about her financial situation, and that they were trying to get out of debt and live on a budget. Judy explained how they her and her husband did their budget together and made a commitment to each other about it. She also told her about how she had felt the last time they went out and how they had to pull from their emergency fund to cover it.
Surprisingly, Donna said that her and her husband where significantly in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and fighting over their money constantly. She didn’t know what to do about it, and she asked Judy to help her.
Instead of shopping, Donna and Judy talked about Donna’s finances. Judy helped Donna work up a simple budget and a debt snowball. They packed a lunch and headed to the local park where they spent the day talking, walking and playing a game of tennis. Donna left, excited to head home and share their new budget and plan for financial success with her husband.
Ever been in a situation like this? What did you do? What tips do you have to share? Every have anyone Geesh you? Add a comment!