Trying to stick to your budget but find yourself overdoing when going out with friends? Join the club. A recent study by social scientist Nicholas Christakis reveals how our social network can have a profound influence on major aspects of our lives, from our weight to our happiness.
The same goes for spending: Hanging out with pals for a few rounds of drinks, for a birthday bash, or for an epic music fest can add up quickly. But there’s no need to fret. You can definitely keep your financial goals in check without resorting to a lifestyle of urban hermitude by developing ways to control spending when out with friends.
Here are some ideas on how to curb your spending when socializing:
Be honest. Let your friends know you’re on a budget. Don’t be afraid of letting others know you’re trying to pay down debt or are saving for a big-ticket item. This may help your friends get on the same page as you. “Sometimes people tend to show off in front of their friends,” says Crystal Hammond of the Sophisticated Spender. “Sometimes there’s a huge sigh of relief among the crowd when I announce that I’m on a budget and I’m watching what I’m spending.”
Suggest cheaper alternatives. Instead of going out for a pricey meal, suggest going for happy hour at your favorite nosh spot, or let your friends know there’s a free concert coming up. Being in the know about free events and knowing how to navigate deal sites to save a few bucks can come in super handy. Twenty-eight-year-old money blogger Christine Nguyen of The Wallet Diet suggests taking the lead when it comes to steering your friends from costly activities. “Don’t be afraid to say you can’t afford to do something,” says Nguyen. “Most people will respect your thriftiness and some will even appreciate doing less expensive activities.”
Set boundaries. When it comes to pricey weekend trips or an upcoming wedding, communicate beforehand to your friends that you’re keeping an eye on your budget and make it clear what you’re able to afford. You can prevent miscommunication and overextending your finances by using person-to-person payment apps such as Venmo or Sprig by CO-OP’s RealPay feature, which allows you to send payments instantly to anyone.
Be savvy about your cards. If you use Apple Pay, linking it up to a credit card or debit card with set spending limits will help you stay within your budget. Using CardNav by CO-OP, a mobile card controls and alerts app, you can set spending limits on your credit card by category, so you don’t overspend on dining out or shopping once you’ve blown your budget. You can also turn off your card if you’ve reached a certain limit to help you keep your spending in check.
While your spending is heavily influenced by the company you keep, you can keep an eye on your budget by communicating to your friends and setting boundaries. And by doing what it takes you stay within your spending limits when socializing, and maybe you can even be a positive influence among your group of friends, too.