Ever heard of the quote “you are the average of the five people you surround yourself with”? Simply, the people that you spend most of your time with will determine your personal success. Your financial habits and lifestyle choices are influenced by your social circle, whether they are partners, friends or family.
Here’s a quick exercise – think about who the 5 people you spend most of your time with, now think of what their spending habits are, their lifestyle costs, their debt and their income levels (if you know it). Do their spending habits sound similar to yours?
Ever since starting this blog I started to drill down into all my spending and the lifestyle patterns and habits that went along with that.
Previously unquestioned and unmonitored spending habits are usually the cause of the social culture you put yourself in. Without realising it, last year I racked up a $10,000 bill on entertainment expenses which was a direct cost of the social circle I placed myself in.
When these spending habits are central to friendships or relationships, these expensive habits go unnoticed and unquestioned in order to fit in.
Going out every weekend with the girls, buying bottles of champagne, prosecco and cocktails, heading out to dinner with friends at new and expensive restaurants; buying take-away dinners at home because Mr. Piggybanks and I were too tired and lazy to cook at home; buying take-away lunches at work because I forgot to buy groceries or couldn’t be bothered packing lunch was all hard-earned money that could have gone to investments, a house deposit or savings.
Becoming financially independent for me has been an eye-opening 180 in lifestyle and so I found that to achieve FI I needed to 1) have support from Mr. Piggybanks and 2) have support from friends (I’m not adding family in here as they are the frugalist of all frugalers and always was shocked at my frivolous spending). This support meant it would have to translate to:
- Going out to less expensive restaurants or dining out less
- Going out to do free things
- Drinking less
- Being proud of ways to have fun and spend less money
- Not feel deprived or punished by spending less
- Having no shame or embarrassment in frugality and seeing the positives in having a less costly lifestyle
It took months to get Mr. Piggybanks on board to understanding and appreciating the importance of saving. While he’s not 100% convinced of the FIRE methodology which some early retirees have used, having him see small lifestyle changes turn into large savings has had my own wallet, liver and arteries jumping for joy. And it turns out, only after a couple of months he’s already out-frugalling me!
On the other hand, having friends who are on a different (frugality) page means different lifestyles and outlooks on life. While I want to save and cut down on costs, they dine out together, drink together and in general have a spendy friendship together. And I’m ok being excluded from this even if I’m distancing myself from these friendships because we’re on different financial and frugality wave-lengths.
The path to FI means a lifestyle and spending habit change in the name of a better future. Being on the same page means a smooth and stress-free transition; no support means an uphill battle. Pick your social circles carefully.
xx Miss Piggy
Illustration by Blair Breitenstein