Peer Pressure Spending

A few weeks ago I went for dinner with some acquaintances and found myself in a bit of an awkward situation.

Not the conversation, that was fine. And the meal was great too. Things for me became uncomfortable when it came time to order dessert.

First of all, I didn’t want to spend any more money on dinner. And secondly, I was full. Dessert wasn’t a temptation for me.

However, everyone else ordered dessert. And when I passed I got…looks. I shifted with discomfort but didn’t say anything. Instead I refilled my water glass and looked at the painting on the wall.

After ordering the conversation resumed until the food came. Then it started all over again.

“Would anyone like to try my dessert?”

Eager forks dug into the treats littering the table and yet I resisted. I wasn’t trying to be unfriendly, I just didn’t want dessert.

The woman beside me tugged my arm and said, “Won’t you have some? To be social?”

As if I wasn’t feeling embarrassed enough already, now I was being peer pressured into eating dessert. Still I refused but this time it was out of stubbornness. What was happening?

I’ve thought of this experience many times in the past few weeks. It’s not like I think the group is thinking back of our dinner together and gossiping about that weird girl who wouldn’t share dessert. No, I realize they probably didn’t remember (or even notice).

The reason I’m fixing on this memory is because this is uncharacteristic of me. “Old Robyn” would have ordered dessert and tried everyone else’s even though she was over budget and stuffed. Because Old Robyn would give in to peer pressure in order to fit in and be liked.

I think my money personality is evolving.

Or maybe it’s my money boundaries.

When I’m by myself I’m great at sticking to my budget and making my dollar stretch. But when I’m out with friends…

“You should buy these jeans they look good on you.”


“Let’s get those fancy coffees—it’s so nice out!”


Yup. Twist my rubber arm. I rarely impulse purchase when shopping alone but if I’m with someone I’m much more spontaneous.

And before you say anything I’m fully aware I’m primed for being taken advantage of. Thankfully, my friends have been gracious over the years.

As I’ve slowly been learning to take responsibility for my financial future I’m realizing how my people-pleasing ways could get me in trouble. Big trouble. And the only way to plug it is to endure uncomfortable outings where I say “no” to dessert…where I don’t buy the jeans even though they look great on me…and where I remind myself I don’t even like lattes. I’m happy with Americanos.

This first experience was not easy but necessary. And the next time I find myself in a people-pleasing situation I suspect it will be that much easier to bypass the social pressure to spend and stick to my budget.

My hope is I can find a way to do this without seeming like I’m no fun. I’ve seen a few suggestions that sound good:

  • Suggesting different activities
  • Turn not spending money into a group challenge
  • Use coupons
  • Be honest about my budget
  • Budget for social spending

While I like all these ideas I am not convinced I’ve found the golden ticket yet. Any further thoughts?

avatarAuthor Bio ~ Robyn (26 Posts)

Robyn Roste is a writer and editor with a bachelor of journalism. Her passions (aside from writing) include knitting, jogging, and reading the CP Style Guide. She would like to think she's a decent tennis player and is currently attempting domestication after spending her 20s travelling. In April 2011 she became a wife.

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8 Responses to “Peer Pressure Spending”

  1. Accept that people will eventually conclude that you are just a bit different. The ones that are bother by that really weren’t your friends to begin with so it doesn’t matter what they think.

  2. I would make a clear distinction between good friends and acquaintances.

    Good friends over time will understand and maybe even be similar to you. Acquaintances will always be a bit of a trick because you are going against the societal norms.

  3. You had no reason to feel any discomfort because you chose not to have dessert. Your “friends” were being rude. No one needs to eat when they’re full or order something they don’t want just to be social. The social part is the enjoyment of the company of others not the eating of dessert. Be strong.

  4. As someone who is trying really hard to lose weight, I find friends & family pressuring me to eat at times that I’m not hungry, & when I do want to eat am sometimes judged of what I choose. Ordering water with my meal & not wanting dessert has got me “are you on a diet or something”
    I’m trying to be healthy & I don’t want to be judged. It sometimes makes me want to just eat at home so I avoid reactions, but I realized I need to grow up & not care what people think. I’m making changes to better myself, my health & my confidents :)

  5. avatar Victoria R Says:
    April 28, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Robyn, this is such an important topic, way to go tackling it. The pressure is on so often, sometimes even subconsciously from others, and it is tough to resist. I remember seeing a sign once that said: consume and conform. It said it all. Way to go you for staying true to your beliefs.

    • Thanks for the encouragement Victoria. It is funny I’ve only recently noticed this about myself, now that I’m becoming intentional about my financial health.

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