Saving money is hard enough without people around you making it much more difficult than it needs to be. Whether intentional or not, friends, co-workers, and family members have the ability to influence you, and sometimes that influence is negative. Our behavior changes when we are with certain people, and that means there may be people in your circle who encourage you to spend money.
These people can cause serious damage to your budget or savings goals, even though they don’t always mean to (so can other poor-advice givers). The truth is, sometimes we spend more to keep up, other times to help, and often because we get in a routine. We can’t blame others for our lack of savings; it’s still our responsibility to bulk up our savings account. However, if you can recognize people to avoid, then you may have more luck saving money. Here are four people to watch out for.
1. The mooch
This one is probably the most obvious, but it is important to avoid anyone who regularly mooches off of you. You may have a friend who is broke and needs to borrow money in order to make ends meet, but as just a friend, this really isn’t your job. If your friend asks you regularly for money, then spending time with him will only result in you handing out money that you could be saving. People who regularly mooch will be toxic to your savings goals. According to Art of Manliness, mooching goes past just money: Mooching friends also may never bring food or provide shelter, and they empty the fridge at other people’s homes.
2. The peer pressure pal
Spending money is just part of spending time with friends, right? It often is, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If your friends only invite you to get together when they want to go to bars, play poker, go to concerts, or otherwise spend a lot of money, then you can try suggesting less expensive ways to hang out (like watching a football game from home and sharing snacks). However, if your friends only want to go out, then going with them means you are bound to spend money.
Spending money can become addictive, and this is especially true when you are with your friends. Once someone starts spending, often others follow suit. You may even have a specific friend who gives you a hard time if you don’t spend money, or continually pressures you to spend. Make sure to avoid this type of friend, or set strong boundaries, if you want to save money. You also need to stay away from spending buddies. If you have a friend who you always like to go to the cafe or movies with, invite him to do something else that costs nothing at all.
3. The needy family member
The needy family member can be similar to the mooch, but this relationship is a bit trickier. You may value your friend, but in general, family relationships can go deeper and you want to be careful not to cause a lasting rift. You may not want to completely avoid this person, but you might have to for a time. You will need to set strong boundaries if you are going to keep spending time with a family member who constantly asks for money, or even one who you fear will ask for it soon. You may even live with this family member, which can make it more difficult.
If you do give money, it can hurt your savings, but it can also hurt your family member down the line by teaching them dependence or enforcing a bad habit. According to U.S. News & World Report, when responding to a request for money, keep your response short, polite, and firm, and consider offering time or advice instead.
4. The person you admire
If you have a mentor or a person whom you deeply admire and want to emulate, there’s a good chance you will want to present yourself in the best possible way when you are around them. It can be difficult to save money when you are trying to impress someone. The same is true when you are trying to play at the same level as someone who might have more money than you. If you are spending time with someone whom you often spend money around, then you need to make a promise to yourself that you won’t spend more than a specific predetermined amount.
You may also find that you spend more money when you are trying to impress a date. Some money might be necessary, but if you find that you are spending more than you are comfortable with, and you fear losing a date or a mentor because you are not spending enough, then it might be time to look for a different person to spend your time with.
It can be difficult to change your spending habits, and initially, your friends or family members might not understand. You may need to have a frank conversation with them. If you are not comfortable or they won’t listen, then you might need to avoid them for a while.