Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What about your Friends?

"If every player in your clique is rich your clique is rugged
Nobody will fall cause everyone would be each others crutches" -Jay-Z

Like the old saying “birds of a feather flock together,” you can tell a lot about a person by looking at who they spend the most time with.  Think about your core group of friends…you shop together, eat together, and share common interests.  However, some of your bonding activities might be hurting your wallet, and steering you away from your financial goals.  The regular girls' night out at the hot downtown restaurant or the weekly shopping excursions may be fun, but once you start monitoring your spending, you may find that A) you can’t afford it! or B) it’s hard to say no to these indulgences when everyone else is doing it...after all, it's what you guys normally do! 

So what do you do now?  Decline all invites from your crew? Replace your old friends with new frugal ones? No!

How about letting your friends in on your financial journey!  Share with them how you are working to improve your financial situation, and try to strike a balance between keeping your friends from breaking your wallet and encouraging them to make better finance choices too! Here are some ideas to help:

Motivation: Encourage each other to make good financial decisions, and hold each other accountable during moments of weakness.
  • Start a book club centered on personal finance books to learn money management skills and to spark ongoing money conversations with your group.
  • Host a savings or debt loss challenge.  Getting out of debt or building an emergency fund is a long process, and friendly competition can help you stick to it when it feels your goal is nowhere in sight.
  • Swap recipes to get new, tasty meal ideas without the restaurant price tag.
  • “Check” each other regularly.  You should feel comfortable speaking freely to your friends and be able to give and receive of constructive feedback, so speak up if you see your friend about to blow their budget on a shopping trip! Share tips about money management that you have learned, and be open to ideas that your friends’ have for you.    

Cost Reduction:  There is strength in numbers, so use that power to help everyone save money.  
  • Clothes and product swaps allow you all to trade items that you don’t (or can't) use instead of spending money on new stuff.
  • Group shopping saves money as you compile your shopping lists, buy items in bulk, and split items among the group. Buying in bulk usually means a discounted price per unit, so instant savings for everyone!
  • Find free or low cost ideas for fun.  Let’s face it, any activity can be fun as long you are together! Host a night-in with Netflix or a potluck; or if you do go out, start your fun earlier during happy hour or lunch time when price specials are available!

Fundraising: Get your friends together, pool your resources and ideas, and use them to fatten up everyone’s pockets.
  • Organize a group sale, such as a yard sale or an online shop.  By working together, you will have a greater selection of items for sale that will attract more buyers than you would have individually.
  • Start an investor club.  Learn about the stock market together, without having to put up a lot of money upfront.  Best case scenario, you all earn money! Worst case scenario everyone loses money, but with the small initial investment, it’s not as big as of a burden as if everyone made investments individually.  Learn more about investor clubs here and here.
  • Start a business. Find a way to utilize everyone’s talents—whether it be providing a service (ex. cleaning, styling), creating a product (ex. sewing, jewelry making), managing a project, or a knack for selling—and get paid for it.

Have you shared your financial journey with your friends?  Can you think of any other ways to make saving or earning money a group activity? I’d love to hear it! 

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