Financial Chameleon

People say friends are alike. I used to think similar people gravitate toward another and form bonds that lead them to lasting friendships. That could be true in some cases, but in other cases, you become friends for other reasons and start to mimic other peoples’ habits whether intentionally or not. I think I’m the latter in the fact that my friends are so different than I am and I used to follow my friends’ financial lead which looking back weren’t so good for my personal financial state. I didn’t max out my credit card limit or anything, but I used up all my money that I could’ve paid toward my student loan or savings or some other productive goal.

I think my chameleon ability started in my early 20’s when I started working full time. Before then, I didn’t have money to even try to follow what people around me were doing. But once my direct deposit started posting to my account, I was a different person depending on who I was hanging out with. With one friend from way~ back, she was a richy rich, so she’d buy expensive clothes, makeup and everything else from the money she got from her parents. Of course I couldn’t afford the $200 moisturizer that she was buying, but I would pick up a stupid $40 glitter to put on when we went out and other frivolous crap. With another friend, she’d spend a lot of money on drinking and clubbing. I used to not drink at all, but I still paid toward the total bill and went clubbing with her. With yet another friend, we used to go out eating all the time and she’d order 3 or 4 dishes when only two of us were eating, because she wanted variety without the buffet quality. I used to eat a lot, so I got used to that too. We’d spend so much money on food weekly.

One question to ask is, did I have any friend that was financially responsible? I didn’t think much of it back then, but thinking back, I don’t think so. Some had parents that gave them plenty of money to spend, some had higher salary than me and didn’t have to take care their parents like I had to. Some had several credit cards that they were rotating just to stay afloat. I think one of the reasons I hung out with friends that spend a lot of money was, well frankly, it was more fun. I didn’t have to think about too much and it’s just easier to spend it first and worry about it later. Another reason was since I had to quit school when my mom got sick and had to take care of her, I needed something to remind me that I’m young and that I’m not missing out on my life as a twenty something single girl.

I’m so glad I didn’t learn to carry over credit card balances during this time and though I could’ve been smarter with my money, at least I lived within, barely, my income. It would’ve been so much easier if I had friends or mentors that showed me a way to live fun life without spending money and also think about the future like taking advantage of 401k match, debt snow ball method, and etc. I should be thankful that I now found a way, a decade later. Better late than never they say and I agree. I haven’t seen most of the friends I used to hang out with in my early 20’s for a long time. I wonder if they changed their financial behavior.

Do you get influenced by your friends’ spending habit? Are you influencing other peoples’ view of personal finance?


10 thoughts on “Financial Chameleon

  1. I would say I was influenced by my friends’ spending habits back in the day. All my friends back home are very well off, however, they never worked for a living. Their parents would help them out and once they got married their husbands started to care for them. I was different in a way that I actually WANTED to work and have my OWN money, my friends were not driven enough. We were friends and we still are friends. I have never judged them and never will, and I think that totally different people can still be very good friends. I am a very good example of this 😛

    • I agree with you. I just wasn’t ready to hang out with them and still be me instead of trying to be like them. I didn’t know how to balance being their friends and not be pennyless after hanging out with them. I never judged them, but I think I envied their lifestyle.

  2. It’s great you escaped your twenties with money spent but no serious debt! You learned a lot of the same lessons as someone who comes out of it with a debt load.

    I used to want to be that fun guy too, you know going out, having fun, spending money. I didn’t go too crazy and I never carried a credit card balance, but I do remember by 2nd year of college being the “fun year” where it was going out every weekend, going on trips, all that sort of stuff.

    I’ve definitely settled down a lot since then and have become much more comfortable with who I am and with little worries or concerns of what other people may think of me. It’s a liberating feeling not caring what other people think! It gives me a lot of motivation to write and pursue my interest in finance, financial independence, and investing!

    • I think I was always scared of credit card which prevented me from accruing that debt. I still have other debt and I just recently decided to be financially smart and responsible. But I’m feeling good and I know that my life isn’t like anyone else’s and I’m not like anyone else. I just need to live my life instead of trying to follow a rich popular girl like I’m still in high school. I hope I can completely not care about what other people think one day and feel the freedom you feel~^^

  3. I’m my 20’s, my friends and I did a lot of frivolous spending… now that I’m in my 30’s, there’s still some friends that like top quality (and super expensive) stuff, but for the most part the conversations revolve around investing, 529 plans, and the sort. Kind of interesting how our views on money have evolved in just a decade.

    • The older I get, the more my girl friends talk about designer bags and babies. My guy friends talk about golf and stock market. I think people around me feel uncomfortable talking about their personal finance.

  4. The friends I had in college were big party girls who love to shop and go dancing. I used to enjoy doing those things too so that’s where all my extra student loan money went towards. The friends I have now are not the same friends and even though we do spend money when we get together it’s mainly at affordable restaurants for drinks or food or getting manicures/pedicures that are offering a ‘special’. My friends now also know that I am serious about getting out of debt. 🙂

    • It’s good that you have supportive friends. My friends try to talk me out of being frugal. Either they think being frugal just means being cheap or they think it’s just a phase I’m going through like a new year’s resolution that I never complete. Well, they’ll know that I’ve been serious the whole time when I paid off my student loans.

  5. I can relate to this Michelle. My debt situation started around the time I started working. I wanted to go out just like my friends and remember buying outfits left, right and centre! I dread to think just how much I spent on alcohol and eating out over the years. Yes I had good times, but it definitely wasn’t worth getting into debt over. (I wasn’t as smart as you!) 🙂

    • I sometimes regret not partying as much in my 20’s, but I guess if I did, I would’ve had credit card debt even now. I think I mostly spent my money on food and alcohol that I didn’t drink. Well, some people never learn, but you and I did learn in our early 30’s so that’s a positive.

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