Trying to maintain a social life while still paying the bills? That’s easier said than done.
Bar tabs, brunches, vacations and birthday celebrations don’t pay down student loans or help you save for a down payment on a home. If you’re not a careful budgeter, your social spending can even put you behind on rent.
But that doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself.
Derek Peth, a financial executive who’s most known for stints on “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise,” suggests the opposite. Becoming more financially intimate — sharing your financial situation with your friends or significant other — can strengthen your relationships while protecting your budget.
Peth, a senior vice president at the online lender Laurel Road, told The Penny Hoarder it’s time to remove the taboo around talking about money.
“Your finances are a part of who you are,” he said.
The people you love should be accepting of that, even if it prohibits you from going out and spending money as often as they’d like.
Talking about your financial situation, however, doesn’t mean you have to dish out the explicit details of how much you make or how much debt you have to an acquaintance or someone you just started dating.
Instead, Peth suggests sharing your goals and limits.
“You can say something like, ‘I’ve got a lot in student loans. I’m really trying to focus on that and my goals right now, and I’m kind of limited on what I can do. Here’s my limits,’” he said. “You don’t necessarily [have to] put numbers behind it, but at least start having the conversation.”
While you’re being more open about your money situation, make sure to share your financial wins too. Paying off $10,000 of your student debt is worthy of the type of celebration you’d have if a friend was turning 30, Peth said.
“Achieving something like paying off a large amount of debt and then celebrating it in a fun way is something that we should do more of,” he said.
When you don’t have as much disposable income as your friends, it can be disappointing to say no to an invite.
“FOMO is a real thing,” Peth said.
True friends should accept the occasional “no thanks, I can’t make it” reply. If someone is constantly trying to push you outside your financial comfort zone or can’t accept your explanations as to why you can’t afford going out every weekend, Peth said it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship.
“You don’t want to be begrudgingly doing something and you also don’t want to — if you’re real friends — be guilt-tripping someone into doing something either,” he said.
To avoid some of these situations, Peth advises taking the lead and being the one to plan the outing. You can come up with something enjoyable that doesn’t involve spending a bunch of money, like a backyard barbecue or a picnic where everyone chips in and brings a dish.
Living in New York, Peth said some of his favorite things to do are hanging with friends on a rooftop or in Central Park, which are very low-cost.
When it comes to dating, Peth suggests taking a note from the Bachelor franchise — with adjustments to fit your budget, of course.
“There are multiple layers to their big dates,” he said. “Although they’re crazy expensive, you can start out somewhere that’s got nice drinks, grab one there, walk to another place that’s maybe lower cost to get tacos together and just laugh and chat, and then go through a final walk through some park.”
Adding layers to a date involves a little more effort than just making reservations at a restaurant. Peth said it shows you value spending time with that person, and the change of scenery helps break up some first-date awkwardness.
“The first time you’re meeting somebody, mix it up a little bit,” he said.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.