Unless you live in a bubble, your social life has a big impact on everything from your opinions to your spending habits. And how we interact with our friends affects how we spend our money. Here are five styles of socializing that can lead to overspending, and what people who have one of these styles can do to curb their spending.
The happy hour socialite
Who you are: You love to splurge on trendy craft cocktails when going out with friends and avoid looking at your bank account the next morning. You keep a tab open for the entire night and as the night wears on, you don’t mind pitching in for a couple of rounds, despite the fact that you may be having a lean month income-wise.
What you can do to save: Try going to a happy hour with reasonable prices and make a point to curb your spending by setting a limit. Instead of footing the entire bill, easily split the bill with your pals using CO-OP’s RealPay – no long division on the back of your receipt required. If you’re a bit of a drink snob, you can arrange for your friends to get together at someone’s place and make fancy libations instead. Come up with a zany theme or take turns playing host, and have fun concocting your own drinks at home.
The fitness fiend
Who you are: You love fitness challenges and are the first to sign up with friends for marathons or ziplining excursions. You don’t think twice about paying for pricey gym memberships, personal trainers, and top-of-the-line exercise equipment and clothing. You get a major adrenaline rush from all things outdoorsy and fitness-related and don’t always take a close look at how much things end up costing.
What you can do to save: Turn your city into a gym. Make the most of hiking trails, running errands on your bike, and fitness equipment you can use for free at a nearby park. Get creative: Even a park bench can be a great way to squeeze in a few push-ups or leg strengthening exercises. If you absolutely love signing up for marathons and fitness challenges, limit how many you participate in each year and register ahead of time to receive an early bird discount to help save money. Crave outdoor adventures? Daily deal sites oftentimes have great deals for two (or more) on outdoor excursions. Just set a limit on how much you spend by using a tool such as CO-OP’s CardNav, where you can set limits on your credit card spending.
The media and pop culture nerd
Who you are: To maintain your nerd cred, you find it essential to be in the know on the latest movies, comic books, and TV shows. You attend the midnight screening on opening day of all the superhero movies and it’s critical that you watch them in 3D. You subscribe to all the cable networks and own all the gaming consoles. You are the first in your group of friends to book a pass to Comic-Con® and you don’t think twice about paying top dollar for a limited edition movie poster print from your favorite illustrator or an exclusive designer toy.
What you can do to save: Dave Olverson of TheNewYorkBudget.com suggests checking out your local library and all the books, DVDs, movies, and TV shows it has to offer. You’ll also be surprised at how many eBooks and magazines are available on loan. Think about ditching your cable subscription and subscribing to Hulu or Netflix instead. If you are a hardcore cinephile who would find it really hard to completely forgo the movie-going experience, you can try MoviePass, which gives you unlimited access to movie theaters across the nation for a monthly fee, or go to a matinee (but pass on the pricey popcorn and soda) to save some bucks.
The music junkie
Who you are: Music is your life and you have your finger on the pulse of your favorite bands. You love going to shows, and if there’s a hot band in town you are the first to jump online to snag a pair of tickets. You tend to overspend when it comes to scoring VIP access to a show or paying top dollar on record rarities.
What you can do to save: Is it really necessary to go to all the cool concerts and music festivals? To keep in line with your financial goals, you can scale back on spending by checking out local listings for free or cheap concerts on your favorite arts and music sites. A lot of college radio stations give tickets away to devoted listeners or subscribers. You can also scour the web for the best deals on concert tickets on sites like Goldstar or SeatGeek.
As for listening to tunes, embrace the cloud. Check out free versions of Spotify or Pandora, or stream or download music for free on SoundCloud, Mixcrate, or Bandcamp. Athena Lent of MoneySmartLatina.com recommends getting a Spotify premium subscription which comes with uninterrupted, ad-free streaming. If you are a hardcore audiophile, Tidal is another monthly music subscription service that offers a fairly extension collection of high-fidelity (lossless) tracks. While there’s a fee for some of these streaming services, it will be less expensive than buying individual tracks in iTunes. And there’s always YouTube, which is a great for creating song lists of your tunes.
The tech geek
Who you are: Whether it’s smartphones, computers, or tablets, you have an urge to have the latest and greatest when it comes to new gadgetry. You might even break a contract or spend extra money on gadgets and accessories to stay on top of tech trends.
What you can do to save: Spend some time thinking about what’s really important to you. Dave Olverson of TheNewYorkBudget.com, who is a self-described former gadget geek, suggests asking yourself, “Does staying on top of the absolute latest gadgets actually give you pleasure?” Trying to stay on top of the latest gadgetry can be a drain to your brain as well as your bank account. “I let go the need to be on the cutting edge and it is actually very freeing mentally,” Olverson adds. Instead, wait it out before jumping on the latest tech bandwagon. You can create a 15- or 30-day wish list and wait it out before making a purchase. Sites like TheWirecutter.com can help you make informed decisions on tech purchases.
Being aware of the way you socialize and how it affects your spending habits will help you keep yourself in check with your finances. You don’t have to cut out doing and having the things you love, but moderation is key. By being resourceful and knowing what your priorities and long-term goals are, you’ll keep your future self in mind and will have an easier time resisting binges.