Have you ever been with your friends and had the sinking feeling that the social plans taking shape were out of your budget? Most of us have been there and it’s tough! Maybe you’re a grad student surrounded by friends who’ve emerged into the work force and have regular paychecks. Maybe you’re a college student on financial aid who can’t swing going out to dinner very often. Or maybe you’re on the other side of this awkward dynamic—able to afford more than your friends, not wanting to make them feel uncomfortable about keeping up.
The pressure is real. According to a recent study by TD Ameritrade, 34% of millennials feel the need to spend because of their friends’ money habits. College can exacerbate feelings of YOLO. You feel like you’re supposed to be having the time of your life. It can be hard to say no when you wish you could say yes.
The only real way to counteract this anxiety around money is to be upfront with your friends. Say your friends are going to dinner. You could join them with an uncomfortable pit in your stomach, order the cheapest thing on the menu, and then cringe when the bill gets split evenly. Or you could trust them enough to be a little vulnerable. Something along the lines of “I’m feeling a little tight on cash right now” sets the stage for more honest conversation. Ask if you could pay for what you order. Or keep it lighthearted: “I will totally be down for that when I make my first million.”
Be proactive about suggesting plans that are in your budget. It may not always seem to be true, but the best things in life are free. Go for a hike, attend a student play, or take in an author reading at your local bookstore. You don’t need to sacrifice time with friends because your budget is tight. Be open and creative and your social life will be the better for it!
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