The people with whom we surround ourselves often influence our behaviors more than we know. Of course, you’re your own person and your friends are their own people. But, when you are friends with someone, on some subconscious level, you trust that some of the choices they make would also be good for you. It can also be hard to admit that you don’t agree with all of the ways they do things. So, perhaps you don’t acknowledge that, and you make little allowances in your head – small excuses if you will – for some of their behaviors that don’t quite seem right.
Once you start to do that, you may even allow yourself to do some of those things without even realizing it. Eating habits. Dating habits. Spending habits. These are all areas of one’s life that a friend can heavily impact. They’re also some of the most important parts of our lives. Eating affects our health. Dating affects our long-term happiness. Spending affects our finances and future stability. So it is important to be around friends who help improve these things. We interviewed Rianka R. Dorsainvil, CFP, Co-CEO at 2050 Wealth Partners, about how friendships can impact finances, and how to nurture a healthy relationship between the two.
The YOLO friend
A friend who regularly blows money can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to be aware of how they could be influencing your spending. “If you have a friend that has the YOLO spirit about everything and all the time, that’s probably not somebody you want to share your financial goals with,” says Dorsainvil.
Can you be a positive influence?
Sometimes, you might see a friend who says their financial goals are X, but their behaviors aren’t in line with that. “When I see friends who share financial goals with me but are doing the opposite [of attaining those] I point it out to them in an un-offensive way – in a constructive way – in a ‘I’m your friend and I want you to succeed’ way,” Dorsainvil says. “And if they take offense to it, then I just stop.”
Unsolicited help doesn’t go far
It can be hard to see a friend making financial choices that can negatively impact their future. However, Dorsainvil states, when it comes to trying to help some friends make better money choices, “Something I learned a long time ago is that I can’t help you unless you want to help yourself or you want to receive help and it’s especially true when it comes to finances.”
Money habits run deep
“There are so many things that impact us from a financial standpoint, whether it’s how we’ve grown up and seen how our parents or family member spent money. How we grew up with money and how we value money [are connected],” says Dorsainvil. She gives grace to friends who aren’t financially responsible because she knows there is some money history that is probably controlling the way that they actually see money and spend money
Old habits die hard
Often, people hold clear beliefs that they think justify financial behavior. The habit is no accident, which can make it harder to un-learn. “I have some family members who think debt is okay…not mortgage debt, but consumer debt,” says Dorsainvil. “They believe ‘When I die I can’t take it with me’ or ‘When I die, this debt is not mine.’ That’s not healthy and is not a good financial habit to have and it’s going to take some time to break that habit.”
A brief break from over-spenders
“If you are in a season in your life where you are trying to financially get on a good path, maybe for some time, you have to part ways with those friends and even family members who don’t have a positive relationship with money,” says Dorsainvil. This can be particularly important when saving money for a down payment on a home or trying to pay off debt in a timely manner.
Also learn to say no
Dorsainvil tells many of her clients “Don’t be afraid of saying no… Like to friends who want to do brunch all the time. If you have a goal of wanting to pay off student loan debt or consumer debt, you need to say no to some brunches so you can focus on paying off debt.”
And say why
“We want to keep up with the Joneses. We don’t want it to seem like, when we say no, it’s because we don’t have the money. The reality is you’re saying no so you can continue to save your money. You can say ‘No, I’m limiting myself to one outing a month and this is why.’ Hopefully, if this is a friend who supports you, they will understand why and won’t try to steer you away from your financial goals.”
Take pride in your goals
“Be proud saying no,” says Dorsainvil. “Be proud of your reason behind saying no. Take ‘I can’t afford that’ out of your language. Because you can afford it – you’re just choosing to direct your money a different way.” Removing the “I can’t afford it” language and adding in, “I’m re-directing my money over here” removes some of the shame around saying no, and makes it easier to say no.
Find those with similar goals
“Form a support system of women who are on the same financial journey. It will keep you accountable,” advises Dorsainvil. “Then you have a team of women banning together and saying ‘Hey we are going to do x, y, z… We are going to pay off our debt. We are going to save. Connect with people who have similar financial goals. When you have friends who are spending, when you want to be investing your money or paying off debt, it’s going to be harder to stick to your plan.”