Tell Them To Support Your Financial Wishes

This article is by Adam from Money Relationship. Subscribe to his site to get updates about his journey out of $150,000 in debt.

We all have those friends that always want to head out on the town and spend. Whether it’s taking large vacations or wanting to eat out every week, they just seem to be made out of money. So, how do you tell someone who likes to spend that you are on a strict budget?

My wife and I have friends that like to spend and it’s hard to tell them no when they ask us to tag along. We don’t want to alienate them to the point that they don’t want to see us again. So, I thought it would be beneficial to think of a few ways to handle the situation if it should every arise again. Here are some strategies that I thought might be useful:

Learn to Say “No”

You might think that saying no is an easy concept but it’s not. When that person is standing right in front of you and you are thinking of ruining their plans, it’s hard to just say no.

It’s probably not best to just say “no” and then leave it at that. Try saying something like, “I’d love to do that, but right now we are really trying to watch our spending.” If they don’t understand that then maybe it’s time to find some new friends.

Tell Them Your Financial Goals

If they are still giving you a rough time after you said no, maybe it’s time to tell them your financial goals. If you are trying to get out of debt or saving for a down payment on a home, tell them. It may actually even inspire them to create their own financial goals.

You don’t want to get too personal with your goals though. In other words, don’t tell them that you are $150,000 in debt and just can’t afford to do anything for the next 7 years. That just might scare them off a bit.

Invite Them Over and Control the Situation

This is a strategy my wife and I use. When all else fails, invite the couple over to your place. If you are in your own domain, you can control the expenses a lot better. Cooking a meal for your guests can be a lot cheaper than eating out. Since your guests originally wanted to spend money on going out, have them bring over the drinks. Even those are cheaper when bought at the store vs. a restaurant.

Go to Places or Do Things For Free

Another great solution is to do things with your friends that are free. My wife and I live really close to Washington DC and there are a ton of things to do there for free. Whenever we have relatives or visiting friends in the area, we recommend heading into the city. There are a ton a free museums and monuments to check out. You can pack a picnic lunch and take mass transit.

Here are a few more things you can do with friends for free:

  • Hiking and biking
  • Picnics
  • Volunteering
  • Game night
  • Pick up a team sport
  • Much more!

How do you handle situations where you friends want you to spend but you don’t have the money?


  1. We all have friends that fit different parts or purposes of our lives.
    For example, I have 4 close friends who have retired and so obviously don’t have the money to eat out just to socialize. We still get together at our respective homes and enjoy each other company.
    On the same token, I have other friends that involve a dinner date once a month.

    So, I think it’s great to have that diversity in friendships. You simply won’t be the “go out and eat” friends.

  2. I used to find myself in the position quite often. My friends always want to spend money and I usually don’t. Now that my closest friends are in the process of or have recently gotten divorced and they are now tight on money. I’ve tried to be honest with my friends. If they don’t like honesty then they shouldn’t be my friends. If I don’t have money then I say “I don’t have money right now.” I have even said that “I’m trying to be fiscally responsible, so I can’t …” or “I’m saving money for my daughter’s Catholic school tuition and I can’t spend any money until it is paid for.”

    I had one friend who continued to pressure me to spend money after I said that I had none to spend and after I suggested an alternate method to do the same activity for a significantly cheaper price which would allow me to participate. I said that if she wasn’t willing to do the activity cheaper then she could go without me. Now that that friend is getting divorced and is broke, she is a little more receptive to ways to make things cheaper. She even suggests brown bagging lunch when we get together instead of buying something at a restaurant.

  3. You know, I had a friend my first few years of college who was ALWAYS on a budget. She couldn’t go out and spend money, so often times we would buy frozen pizza and make it at her home. Or I would offer to pay for her lunch and would say, “You can pay for mine when you get stuff under control.” I never thought twice about it.

    Now that I’m on a tight budget I often ask my friends to have cheap fun instead of going out. One of my friends has Netflix so I’ll go to her place and watch a movie. Or we’ll go to the grocery store to get cheap food to cook at my place and play some videogames.

    Friends who really care about you are only asking to go out because they enjoy time spent around you. If that’s the case, I’ve never felt bad about telling those friends, “Hey, I still want to get together, but I’m on a budget. Can we eat in instead of out?”

  4. I just flat tell them, that’s More Money than I care to spend. If you want to do something less expensive, let me know. ….

    I don’t feel the need to explain my reasons, so I don’t. – I can afford to spend the money – I just don’t feel that it is what I care to do with my hard earned money. I have other financial priorities. If they are truly my friends, they already know this anyway 🙂

  5. On going out to eat with friends, I’ll buy a bowl of soup, telling anyone that asks that I either had a late lunch (which I make sure that I do on those days) or had a snack before going out (and really do have the snack before you go out with them!). My having a cheap snack, you’ll be less hungry and tempted by food.

    Soup is always pretty cheap (order water too of course). You can also ask for the lunch sized portions (a little cheaper than the dinner size portions, but soup is the best answer).

    As for travelling like going skiing, there is always something going on that day, and if there isn’t plan something cheap for that day in advance! You will occassionally have to go, but your friendship might be worth it.

    You can also save up for those trip budgetting (yuck), after you get out of debt…

  6. I talk. A lot. Everybody who has talked to me more than a few times knows I’m cheap and my husband and I have plans for early retirement. No, I don’t just blurt it out all the time, but future plans usually come up in friendly conversation.

    Anyway, since our friends are broke and my husband and I are cheap, we hang out more than anything else. We have board game potlucks at our place so we can cover the main course and our guests aren’t on the line for more than $5 of sides.

    We also have Redbox movie nights or watch DVD’s together that we already own. By having inexpensive evenings in most of the time, nobody feels guilty when we splurge and go out every other month or so.

  7. Although I’m watching my spending too, I always diversify. In a month, I can be with friends that are heavy spenders. But not to the point where you get financially exhausted. There are times that I say “no” but the next time they tell me to come along wherever we’ll be going, I try to tag along, simply because I always enjoy their company too. My frugality doesn’t mean that I won’t buy something for “wants”, occasionally, I do.

  8. that’s a good article, you sometimes the problem is that people sometimes pressurize their friends and force them to do something against their financial goals. guess someone needs to think consciously before following them