Alcoholics Anonymous, Weight Watchers, local faith communities, service organizations, and even mommy groups all acknowledge the power of positive peer pressure. When you want to accomplish a goal or live your life a certain way, it is a bit easier when you meet with others working toward the same end.
Whether or not you consider yourself a “joiner,” positive peer pressure can help you in finances just as well as in other areas of your life. Even if you never join a formal organization, it’s important to have at least one or two frugal friends. Here are ten ways they can help you:
Encouragement: When you postpone buying something you want to add to your savings, it doesn’t always bring the warm fuzzies you might get from bringing home that new purchase. A frugal friend can remind you that saving is worthwhile and that not everyone spends like “the Joneses.”
Keeping Up with the Browns: For those who do enjoy a bit of financial competition, having frugal friends can provide a new type of competition, the opposite of keeping up with the Joneses. Rather than trying to buy everything the Joneses have, try to save as much as the Browns.
Fresh Ideas: Methods of saving are as varied as the people who save. When it seems like you are pinching pennies every way you can, you might find that your frugal friends are doing something you are not. Talking about ways you save can benefit everyone. When you hear a different perspective, you might even realize that your way of cutting expenses doesn’t save as much as you think.
Similar Thinking: When everyone around you is showing off their latest designer clothes and hot gadgets or making fun of “cheap” people, a frugal person can feel quite alone. While it’s valuable to have friends who think differently from you, it’s also nice sometimes to know that others think the way you do.
Inside Information: When frugal friends find truly good bargains (not just the standard weekly sale where the department store charges what should be regular prices), they are likely to pass on the information to someone who truly appreciates it – another frugal friend.
Inexpensive Get-Togethers: Spending time with spendthrift friends can put a big dent in your entertainment budget. Frugal friends understand that less expensive entertainment options (potluck and game night at home as opposed to dinner and a movie out) can be just as much fun; if you do splurge on a night out together, you don’t have to be embarrassed by your cost-cutting ways (such as ordering water instead of a mixed drink at a restaurant or going to a matinee and skipping the popcorn).
Inexpensive Gifts: Frugal friends don’t measure your loyalty by the amount of money you spend on them. They value inexpensive, well considered gifts as much as expensive gifts, and they might not even expect you to give them any gifts at all.
Borrowing or Trading: Frugal friends understand why you might not want to run out and buy things you won’t use often. If they have something you need or want to use briefly (and you are dependable enough to take care of their things and return them promptly), they are likely to be willing to loan you their things. You can return the favor, as well. If you both have things you no longer need that the other person wants, you might even choose to trade permanently instead of borrowing.
Sharing Expenses: If you and your frugal friend both need something that neither of you has, you might be able to work out an agreement to share the cost of it. Whether it’s a lawnmower or a vacation, sharing expenses can be a great way to save, but only if your personalities are compatible for it.
Preparing for Retirement: When you save so much that you’re able to retire early, what will you do with yourself? While your spendthrift friends are still working to maintain their lifestyles or pay off debts, your frugal friends may also be retiring and will have more time to spend with you.
It’s always easy to find people who spend more than you do, but do you know anyone who spends less? If not, start striking up conversations at a thrift shop or library (or anywhere else the frugal people in your community spend their time). Making a frugal friend is worth the effort.
Image courtesy of Tim Somero