How to Have the “This Isn’t In My Budget” Talk with Friends

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As we dive into the New Year, it’s time to take a (serious) look at our 2019 financial goals. Even though the holiday rush is over, there are still plenty of tempting (and expensive) winter excursions that could jeopardize your “New Year, New Me” motivation. A lot of times our friends, as much we love them, can be the crux of it. Whether it’s a weekend ski trip or just a nice dinner outing, it’s easy to fall back into bad money habits. But if you’re really looking to get serious about your money, an important step is navigating these proposed hangouts and having real conversations with your friends about money.

It can be hard to tell your friends that certain activities aren’t within your budget, especially when you don’t want to miss out on all the fun! But spending money and spending time with friends does not need to be mutually exclusive. There are a number of ways you can get the best of both worlds, but it all starts with one conversation — #RealMoneyTalk.

Remember That They’re Your Friends

As hard as it can be to have the #RealMoneyTalk conversation, you (hopefully) picked your friends for a reason! Friendships can take many forms, but for some, it’s likely that you share in-depth information with them about your relationships, family, work life, and more. Keep that in perspective! If they’re your true friends, they should be open to hearing about your financial situation and will listen to you when you’re not in the best place to splurge. You might even find that being honest invites others to come forward about their own financial situation. It’s likely that if you’re feeling pressure to spend, your friends are too!

Use the Form of Communication that Works Best for You

Some people find that a phone call or a text is easier than having a conversation about finances in person (and vice versa!). You know yourself best; when having the #RealMoneyTalk with friends, communicate the way that’s most suitable for you! If you’re comfortable with the way you’re relaying information about your money, it’s likely you’ll feel better about the conversation overall. So whether you want to have a formal in-person conversation with your BFF about your finances, or send a casual text to a co-worker that certain things just aren’t within your budget, go with the method that puts you most at ease.

Have the Confidence to Say “No.”

It’s hard to say “no,” especially when you don’t want to. But it also can give you the confidence you need to sit out events that you know will push your budget. Instead of feeling like saying “no” to friends is a weakness, see it as a strength. You are wise enough to know what makes the most financial sense for you. “No” is a powerful tool; Use it!

Let’s be real: sometimes the circumstances aren’t fitting for a #RealMoneyTalk. Whether it’s a new friend or someone you just don’t feel totally comfortable talking about finances with, here are some alternate ways to take charge of your finances and avoid missing plans or hurt feelings.

Be the Planner

If you’re the one that makes the plans and takes initiative, you can be in control of how costly the activity is. For instance, instead of going out to dinner, which can rack up costs through appetizers, drinks, and dessert, try organizing a potluck. That way, you’re only spending on one dish, but you’re enjoying just as many options as you would if you went out to eat. By divvying up the costs, you’ll fill your budget needs and your appetite!

Prioritize the Most Fun Activities

If we took part in every seasonal activity with friends, we’d all be broke. Try making a list of all the upcoming events that you have on your calendar, and prioritizing the ones that you want to do the most. When you want to stick to your budget, sometimes you have to pick and choose. By identifying a few key events that you know you’ll want to attend, you’ll feel better about sitting out on other activities with friends.

Set Up an Emergency Buffer

Try to always have an emergency buffer in case you end up spending a bit more than expected on outings with friends. This buffer will create a sense of financial safety for you. So if things take a turn, and you end up splurging for the bottomless mimosa brunch, you’re not left in a panic when the bill comes.

Accept Your Lifestyle Choices

Money doesn’t grow on trees — and chances are, your friends know that! Be honest and comfortable with your lifestyle choices. It’s a sign of true #adulting when you can pick and choose the activities you do while staying in good financial health. It demonstrates strength, intelligence, will-power, and downright financial prowess!


Although it may seem scary to have these conversations with your friends, don’t panic. The first step is breaking down the barrier and being open and honest with your closest allies. Tell us, how are you having the #RealMoneyTalk convo with your friends?