Keep Your Friends Out of Debt

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If you’re like me, you get a bit evangelical about getting out of debt.  I try to convert spendthrifts and irritate my fellow debtors.   I’m probably pretty annoying at times.   What I’ve learned–or at least pretend to have learned–is the direct approach rarely works.   Hitting someone over the head with a brick won’t convince them of anything, even if it’s a very frugal brick.  Try it sometime.  You may convince them to buy a bigger brick to return the favor, but you won’t convince them to save money.

What can you do?  Your friends want to spend money they don’t have and worse, they want you to come with to spend money you either don’t have or don’t want to spend on bad music and overpriced beer.  Suggest less expensive activities.

If your friends want to catch a movie, suggest a matinee or hitting redbox for a night in.   It may even be worth investing in a projector and screen if movie night becomes a habit.   My couch is certainly more comfortable than the theater seats and my soda is cheaper.

When you are invited to dinner, suggest a potluck or have a barbecue. It’s almost always cheaper to eat in, and cooking together can be a wonderful social activity.   If that’s not practical, use coupons. has some amazing deals, but don’t use them without an coupon.  Their default price is a $25 gift certificate for $10.  With a coupon (currently DAD), you can get that same certificate for $3.   That usually means a minimum tab of $35 and mandatory tip of 18%, but it’s still a good savings.  Your $35 meal will cost $19.30 when all is said and done.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="196" caption=" "] [/caption]Don’t compete for the coolest gadgets. “I just got an iPod for $300″ should be countered with a receipt for a $20 mp3 player, not an ad for an iPad.   Race to zero, not zeros.

Don’t be ashamed of your frugality.   “I they are laughing you don’t need ’em, cuz they’re not good friends.”   My habits aren’t secret. If I say something isn’t in the budget, my friends know I won’t be doing it.  It’s not up for debate.

Above all, I try to be proactive. I try to suggest cheaper alternatives before the expensive options are on the table.   Having a beer on my deck and watching a movie in my living room is so much cheaper than drinks at a club before a concert.

Update:  This post has been included in the Carnival of Personal Finance.

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    1. I like the ideas you’ve presented here. I have a couple friends who I know are up to their ears in debt, yet keep spending money like millionaires. I try to curb the expenses when we spend time together, as my efforts to talk about finances usually end up falling on deaf ears. Hopefully they’ll see the light soon, and I’ll use these tactics with them in the future.


    2. I have friends that enjoy frugal activities but spend tons on what I consider to be stupid stuff, so they’re still in debt. It’s easier to keep my mouth shut since they’re “bad” spending doesn’t actually effect me. I gladly offer my opinion when asked but keep my mouth shut in general when they literally spend thousands of dollars a year on a specific brand of bottled water and canned sodas…

    3. The right answer for me would be to keep my mouth shut. Unfortunately, as my mother would attest, I’ve never been any good at that.

    4. Yeah, me neither…

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