“We’re totally financially fine…until you add other people to the mix,” is what my husband and I always say. Maybe you can relate to that. You have your budget on point. You have your food budget, which allows for a few restaurant outings, along with your entertainment budget, utilities, rent, car payments, etc. And as for now, so long as you stick to it, you’re actually doing pretty well saving. But it all goes to hell the moment other people enter the picture and ask you to do, well, basically anything. It’s very rare that two friends or two couples are on the exact same spending plan. And financial pressure to keep up with the Jones’ is a real thing, as one Credit Karma survey found that 40 percent of millennials overspend to keep up with friends.
It happens all of the time. You ask a friend if she wants to come over for dinner, and she suggests you go to a restaurant instead. Suddenly, your budget just went up for the night. You invite another couple on a trip, but they aren’t pleased with the hotel you found –they want the slightly more expensive one. It can often feel that the wealthier friends’ budgets set the pace for everyone else. Nobody likes to speak up and say, “I can’t afford that…” and we can’t expect our richer friends to be aware of our monetary constraints. That’s what makes it so stressful when these social obligations come up.
It all starts with the mail. If you open the mail, you’re bound to find bills. Your day can be going very well until you bring in the damn mail, and find bills. Some bills come disguised as something else, but they’re still technically bills, and these are baby announcement. A baby announcement is a friend’s way of saying, “I have made a little human who will require about two million dollars between now and death to make it through this life and I’d love it if you’d help me start funding it.” A baby announcement is a request for a gift. And the thing with baby announcements is that, you just have no idea when they will end. What if all of your friends have four children? And you’re giving $50 a kid? You’re shelling out $200 for every friend pod, and you have like eight friends in that group, so…$1,600 on this?!