Social Constraints

I think I have a very good grasp on handling my money on my own. Key words? On my own. When I’m by myself I can easily ward off temptations by saying “that’s not in the budget,” and that’s the end of discussion. I’ll put down the cute little dress.

However, when others tempt me to spend money, I cave. I can be such a pushover at times and it makes me 1) like the tempter less and 2) like myself much less for giving in. This seems to happen a lot more now that the sun sets at 9 pm and I find myself out after a long winter of hibernation.

For example, you are at a bar or restaurant and already spent $35 on a dinner/drinks. Your friend asks you to get another drink with her. You say, “No thanks, I’m good.” And she continues to plead: “Come on! It’s just $8. Just sacrifice eating out for lunch once this week.” Thinking to self: An entire meal vs. just one beverage? “No really, I don’t need another drink.” Then the friend sighs and says, “Alright, well I guess I won’t get one either.” And then because you don’t want to let your friend down, you give in and buy another drink that ends up being over $10 with tax and tip.

How do you resolve that? Am I the only one who feels pressure by friends to “have a good time” and in the process go over budget? What do you do when your budget hinders others from having a good time?

Some helpful tips:


  • Plan ahead. Do your research on restaurants that have reasonable specials.
  • Eat a snack before dinner so you’re not as hungry and order a small meal or appetizer.
  • Split a meal with a friend. Usually the portions are so large that it is more than enough to feed two.
  • Be the designated driver. It may not be as fun, but it’s an automatic cheap night.
  • Pre-game at home. It is much more economical to drink a $5 bottle of wine at home than spending $7 per glass at a restaurant.
  • Carry enough cash. If the whole table receives one check and it needs to be split amongst the party, you can pay for only your amount and don’t have to put everyone’s meal on your credit card and hope they all pay you back eventually.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. Ack! This one is hard for me. But in the end, if my friends don’t respect that I can’t afford it, are they actual true friends?
  • Do what feels right to you. If you know it’s going to be a huge expensive evening, don’t go. Or if you know that caving in will make your friend happy but put you in a bad mood for giving in, just say no. But if you feel that the situation is right and spending a little extra won’t be a big deal and you are having fun, then do it. You could always skip eating out that week for lunch.

Morale of the story: Don’t let anyone else walk over you. You always have a choice and do what is comfortable with you and your budget. Any other tips to deal with these sticky social situations?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • I LOVE your tips! We always did the pre-game drinking at friend’s house before going out to the club (long, long time ago . . .) and when I got there I might have one, maybe two more drinks just to keep the buzz going and then it was water for the rest of the night.

    I have the same problem with some of my friends. What I do now is I keep my debit card at home and only bring as much cash as I’m willing to spend, that way you can always say: “Oops, I’m tapped out.” And either she can buy you a drink ;) or you leave.

    I’d love to read some more suggestions. Its hard when you’re on a budget and your friends aren’t!

  • I just nurse my drinks like a mofo. Everyone else will have 2 or 3 while I drink one beer. This is also useful because my tolerance plummeted after I got out of school and stopped drinking 5 nights a week!

  • Good tips!

    I have a hard time with this too! Its usually becase my boyfriend encourages me to buy nice things for myself (clothes, shoes, dinners – whatever). I’ve told him the support I need is finding FREE things to do, not in supporting me when I buy garbage/stuff.

    Agreed with Jamie – it is hard to be on a budget when no one else around you is…. that’s usually when the credit card is broken out :(

  • On the opposite side, it’s kind of nice just to have friends to go out with. In the years following college, my wife and I stayed in the same area, but nearly all of our close friends have moved far, far away (without the benefit of getting to hang around with Shrek). I’m not really complaining here as I’ve made my bed, am lying in it, etc., and I do have a couple of friends still around, but there’s something to be said about having people to share your life with, even if they cost you an extra drink. :-)