Most of us are being more careful with our money these days as the recession bites. But do you sometimes still feel pressure from friends or family to spend money you don’t have, or that would be better spent on something else? Despite my efforts to be frugal, sometimes other people can leave my best laid plans in disarray and it can be difficult to steer a frugal course without offending them or making them feel guilty.
Last month I met up with an old work colleague. It was great to see him as he’s good company and the fact that he’s changed careers and now earns five times my annual income has never really been an issue before. He’s not the kind to brag or make me feel like a lesser human being because I’m not a hot shot earning a fortune. And usually we only meet up for the occasional drink because of his busy schedule juggling work and family.
But this time he’d decided to book a table in a trendy West End bar for us to have dinner. I looked at the place online and decided that while it was a bit pricey, the bar menu wasn’t too bad and I picked out a couple of dishes I could have that weren’t too expensive.
However, on the night I discovered we weren’t in the bar area but in the expensive Thai restaurant section. My heart sank as he waved to me from a swanky looking table by the window. My head told me that I should ask him if we could leave and go somewhere cheaper. But he’d already made himself comfortable with a glass of wine and some crackers. Plus he had such a smile on his face as he leafed through the menu that I couldn’t find the guts to utter the words.
Yes, the company and the food were good, but the thought of the bill that was coming spoilt the evening a little. I managed to dodge dessert, but the bill was still more than twice as much as I’d expected to pay. Not only did I feel a coward for going along with it all, but I felt foolish for not taking the frugal initiative in the first place and suggesting we went somewhere cheap and cheerful.
Somebody asked me recently for my top piece of frugal living advice. I said that, from what I’d learned from writing this blog and from all your comments, above all else it was reviewing your finances regularly and planning meals and activities ahead so you could control the cost. I also now think that sometimes you have to be brave. It takes courage to go out on a limb and tell your friends that, no, sorry I don’t want to spend my money on this activity, or to complain and demand a refund for something you’re unhappy with. Sometimes it can seem easier to grit our teeth and stay silent, but we only come to regret it later on when we’re caught short financially.
Are you sometimes pressurised by friends or work colleagues to spend money you can’t afford? How do you deal with it? Have you ever fallen out over money?
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