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?