Peer Pressure - resist it, ignore it
Let's look at peer pressure for what it is, and examine what it can do to foil our approach to frugal living. Then let's see how we might resist it or ignore it.
Pressure from our peers is everywhere. It's the personal and social equivalent of politics. It happens anytime you have more than one person to deal with.
I liken peer pressure to a "club." You know, the clubhouse type of club. It seems that everyone wants you to join their "club."
But why? Because if you join my club, I'll feel better about being part of it. It's just that simple. Being part of a club makes all the members feel better about themselves.
Take a look at all the "clubs" out there. From cars to clothes to shoes to the little stuffed animals that hang off of your backpack. It's all about being part of a "club." Don't forget the hunting clubs, car clubs, social clubs and golf clubs as well.
Some are formal clubs with membership requirements and dues. Others are informal and devoid of structure, but they still have dues to pay.
The dues are often in the form of the latest style or fashion. Whether it's the jeans ripped at the knees, the pet rock, the wheel covers that spin when your car isn't moving, the hat backwards, the spoiler on your passenger car, or the large "check mark" on the clothes you wear. It's all part of the dues you pay to be part of the club.
Countless billions of dollars are spent each year on things that are related to peer pressure instead of what it is we really need and want.
I am reminded of a line from I Hope You're Happy Now by Elvis Costello, "I hope you're happy now, because you'll sure put pay to that."
Be Aware and Be Prepared to Resist
A frugal person resists peer pressure. Keeping a strong resistance to peer pressure will help you stay focused on personal goals that are important to you. And, that's what matters, what's important to you, not what's important to others.
Pressure to spend money exerted by peers can be hard to take, especially if we are inexperienced or have trouble with our self-esteem. We are all susceptible to peer pressure to some extent and for different reasons.
Peers often give us strange looks when we march to a different drummer. A true friend might watch with great interest, but he/she won’t care.
Henry David Thoreau reminds us: "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."
From my perspective, the keys to resisting peer pressure are:
- Be comfortable with who you are - you're a unique person that should be imitated by others, not one that should spend time imitating others.
- Have specific goals in mind that guide your decision-making processes. Your goals need to be focused on things that really matter most to you. The latest trends in style and fashion might not be very high on your list, but living comfortably with financial security might be. You need to have a long view, and act in a manner that will make it happen.
- Realize that others live their own life and it doesn't necessarily affect you. It only affects you if you allow it. When you see the wage earner driving a new pickup truck with all the fancy accessories on it, just remember that what you see is probably all he has to show.
- Use a bit of mental toughness to ignore the pressure exerted by peers. See the value in your lifestyle and ignore others. Many of them are going nowhere fast, and unless that's your chosen path in life, I'd steer clear of it altogether.
- Remove yourself from environments where peer pressure abounds. You know the places and circumstances. It's where someone is likely to say, "Hey Eddie, when are you going to get rid of that clunker and get yourself a decent set of wheels."
Whatever you do, be certain to consider the source of advice when someone is trying to convince you to buy or do something. Consider their motivations. Consider where they're at in life and whether that's where you might be if you started following their advice.
Keep to your own game plan and be successful in spite of all the "wonderful" advice you might get from various "ne'er do wells" out there. Like the song Horace Wimp from ELO reminds us, "Be a man, take a stand, and you will have a great life plan."
Done with Peer Pressure, back to Are You Frugal