There’s a saying that you are the average of your 5 closest friends. Take a look at the people you hold dearest. Combined, they are you. If they are all in debt, chances are, so are you.
As a corollary, you are a part of your friends. If you become more financially responsible, it will rub off on the people who care about you.
Given these two rules, one way to improve yourself is to help those around you improve themselves. If your influence convinces your friends to move closer to your ideal, it will be easier, almost effortless to move closer to it, yourself.
It sound manipulative, but if you are manipulating your friends, you are doing it wrong. Don’t try to force or trick your friends, just be honest and sincere in your efforts to help. Nobody wants to be in debt. This is you being nice.
1. Suggest cheap activities.
While it is okay to splurge occasionally, don’t be afraid to suggest less expensive activities. If someone suggests going to a movie, mention the dollar theater. If they want to go out for dinner, offer to host a potluck. Trip to the casino? Game night at your house. There are almost always cheaper ways to have fun. As long as you are spending time with the people you love, you’ll have a good time. Do you really need to drop $100 to do that?
2. Don’t flaunt your toys.
If you buy an iPod and immediately run to show it off, you are going to trigger a case of “keeping up with the Joneses”. If your friends spend all of their time around people who are constantly buying expensive toys, buying expensive toys becomes normalized in their minds. Debt becomes the norm. Then extreme debt. Don’t reinforce the destructive debt cycle by showing off the expensive trophies of excessive, unnecessary consumerism.
3. Point out opportunities to save.
This is a fine line to walk. If mention how much money your friend is wasting on 13 shot venti soy hazelnut vanilla cinnamon white mochas with extra white mocha and caramel every single morning, you’re going to get annoying fast. In fact, you are already annoying me, so knock it off. On the other hand, if Caribou is having a sale on the 13 shot monstrosity, speak up. Nobody is going to complain about getting a $15 coffee for less than $10.
4. Give them a side hustle.
If you’ve got a friend who’s into landscaping and you’ve got a neighbor who needs a landscaper, make the connection! If you know a web designer and a business in need of a website, get them together. Do what you can to match the needs of the people around with each other. They will all appreciate it, and everyone will be better off. Be the guy who helps everyone connect with the people they need.
5. Be encouraging.
Put another way, don’t be a dick. Nobody likes being nagged. Nobody likes being told they are doing everything wrong. Be encouraging, not mean.
If you can do all of that, it’s natural that your friends will start acting the way you want yourself to act. The less they want to waste on a trip into debt, the less tempted you will be to do the same.