This post was written by our regular contributor, Leslye.
So you’ve made a plan to pay down your debt. You feel good about your plan and are putting it into action.
Then you realize that there is an unexpected roadblock to your debt management plan. Your friends. Is socializing getting you into debt? It’s quite possible that your social life can increase your debt.
Did you know that almost 40% of millennials have spent money they didn’t have and gone into debt to keep up with their friends? The reason why? “FOMO” or the fear of missing out. Perhaps you’ve seen those perfectly curated Instagram feeds filled with designer goods. Or the Facebook posts with travel pics of exotic locales.
This is our version of keeping up with the Joneses. It’s very easy to get swept up in the image of prosperity. Not to mention that no one wants to feel left out. What we don’t know is if these friends are doing as well as it seems or possibly themselves going into debt.
How often does hanging out with friends involve money?
Something as simple as brunch or dinner with friends adds up. A night at the club can be costly. You may have even decided to take an impromptu trip at the invitation of a friend, which could be a blow to your budget. Don’t forget the costs that can be associated with attending a friend’s wedding. According to a recent survey, 53% of millennials say it would be “worth it” to go into credit card debt if it meant they could attend the wedding of a close friend or family member (What???!!).
The truth is most of the activities we use to socialize involve money.
Related: 75 Free Things To Do This Weekend
However, there are ways around this and managing the costs of traditional activities. The first step is to remember that being debt free is more rewarding than any lunch or night out.
Here are few areas we can use to reevaluate how we spend time with our friends.
Shopping can be euphoric. The rush and excitement of new things are always nice. This coupled with the encouragement of friends is a bad combination.
Have you ever been out with friends and bought items that you wouldn’t have purchased while shopping alone? Shopping with friends doesn’t have to be a money trap. If you must shop with your friends, set a spending limit. Allow yourself one item, and don’t fall victim to peer pressure.
Before purchasing anything, ask yourself three questions:
- Do I already own it?
- Is it in my budget?
- Is this something I wear/use more than once?
Gage your answers to determine whether or not to purchase. If you do have a temporary lapse in judgment and buy things that don’t meet your needs, don’t forget that you can always return the items.
Eating is an American pastime. Food has always been used to bring people together and celebrate. While we all love a good meal, dining out is definitely a money trap. It is estimated that millennials spend 44% (or $2921 annually) of their income on eating out.
A good portion of that could be attributed to dining with friends. If you do decide to dine out with friends, plan ahead. Don’t eat out during the week and save that dining out allowance for your friend date.
Instead of eating out, why not host your friends at home? It costs less than what you would likely pay at a restaurant and you can skip the tip.
Not to mention it is likely healthier than the restaurant options. There are plenty of amazing recipes online to try out, so you’ll never run out of options. You don’t have to be confined to dining at home. You could plan a picnic at the park or the beach for a change of scenery.
Related: 5 Habits That Are Keeping You Broke
It’s always fun to get away, especially with friends. What’s not fun is returning from a getaway to even more debt. If you want to travel with friends and stay out of debt, do not accept invitations for last minute trips. Unless there is a significant discount being offered, opt for a well-planned vacay instead.
Last minute trips usually include higher airfare and travel costs, as well as hotel rooms with higher rates. If you must travel at the last minute, use apps like Hopper and Hotel Tonight. Hopper allows you to get up to the minute airline tickets prices.
Whenever I’m traveling and don’t want to spend money on a hotel, I use Airbnb for a more authentic experience. You can also rent out spare rooms in your home to travelers on Airbnb too to earn some extra income #sidehustle
Hotel Tonight is specifically for getting hotel rooms at the last minute, often a discount. While planning a getaway, vacation packages are always a good idea. Check out sites like Groupon, Hotwire, Travelocity for deals on flights, hotel, and rental cars.
Start encouraging your friends to find new free activities. An afternoon stroll in the park may sound less entertaining, but anything can be fun with the right company.
Don’t be afraid to share your plans for reducing your debt with your friends. Any good friend will understand and will want you to achieve your goals. You never know, you may encourage your friend to curb their spending as well.
Do you find that your social life contributes to you getting into debt? What are some of your favorite frugal activities to do with friends?
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