Keeping up could be what’s keeping you down

It seems as if every month of the year has a special occasion attached to it. February it was Valentines month. March is Human Right’s Day and in April school holidays and Easter celebrations overrun our lives.

The pressure to go with the flow on special occasions is real. Even people who scoff at all the silliness, might harbour a quiet wish that their partner would surprise them with a red rose or a giant chocolate bunny.

“There’s no denying that people get caught up in the flavour of the moment,” says Nicole Sanderson, Bayport brand custodian. “And the pressure to keep up with friends and other people in our social circles can be immense.”

Aside from the emotional effect peer pressure can have, the impact on one’s wallet, and longer term financial wellbeing, can be significant.

According to a study conducted by the American Institute of CPAs, about 78% of young adults look at how their friends spend their money to determine their own financial habits. Another 66% admitted that they strived to keep up with their peers in terms of

living conditions, and two-thirds of consumers felt some level of financial peer pressure.

“Some people are more aware of this pressure than others,” says Nicole,” but if you have ever spent outside your budget so you wouldn’t feel left out, then you have been a victim of financial peer pressure.”

It is not always easy to withstand the pressure people put on us, but it is possible. Being aware of such pressure, is the first step towards avoiding falling for it.

In the context of occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, an important strategy is to be honest with your partner or spouse. Talking about your expectations around special days may sound like a romance killer. However, disappointment on the day, or real financial difficulties at the end of the month, will be far worse.

“We should also remember that it is possible to celebrate the good things in life – such as being in a loving relationship – without spending pots of money,” says Nicole. “Each relationship is unique. Instead of competing with friends, rather do something that celebrates where the two of you are.”

Tips to avoid financial peer pressure

  1. Shop alone
  2. If going to the mall with friends results in you burning through more cash than you have, you need to shop alone. Your friends may not have ill intentions, but if they see you drooling over an item, they could unknowingly put pressure on you to buy something you can’t afford.

  3. Don’t be ashamed of your limitations
  4. The fact that you have some financial limitations does not mean you are inferior to anyone. Maybe you have more expenses or responsibilities than your friends. Some of your friends might be single with no kids, have roommates, or live with their parents, whereas you are the breadwinner of your household. Everyone has unique circumstances. So if you have to pass on a costly night out or a fancy excursion, it’s okay.

  5. Don’t be fooled by social media
  6. People use social media to showcase the good in their lives. There isn’t anything wrong with people sharing their new purchases or the fancy places they go, but you have to realise that what you see online shouldn’t be the standard you live by. Some of the people you envy could be up to their eyeballs in debt – all because they are trying to portray a certain lifestyle.

  7. Don’t forget your goals
  8. Adopting a frugal mindset is one of the best ways to reach your goals, such as saving up to buy a house. This involves drawing up a budget and sticking to it, and monitoring your spending habits. It does not mean that you can no longer have fun; it means that you cannot allow financial peer pressure to make decisions for you. The next time a friend makes you feel bad for not spending money, think about your goals and decide whether saving face is worth derailing your plans.

  9. Don’t let show-offs get in your head
  10. Some people brag about anything, and you might feel tempted to outshine them – but you shouldn’t do this at the expense of your finances. Ignore the show-off rather than getting caught up in a game of one-up. You might come out on top, but it’ll cost you.