Financial Planning, Millennials

Peer Pressure

“Without 40, Oli, there’d be no me. Imagine if I never met the broksies.”

-Drake, ‘God’s Plan’

Drake credits much of his success to his friends, especially Noah “40” Shebib and Oliver “Oli” El-Khatib; both have played critical roles in Drake’s rise to become one of the most popular artists right now—Noah on the music side of things and Oliver on the branding side. Without them, we may not have Drake (some may be ok with that, but in our house, Drake gets a lot of airtime). Whether intentional or just plain luck, Drake was fortunate to surround himself with friends who saw his vision, were motivated to work with him and were willing to push him to become the star he is today. Had he surrounded himself with friends with ulterior motives, there might be a different story…

“I lived a very good lifestyle where I took care of not only myself…and I brought friends along on the journey as well. I ran with a group of friends, seven or eight of us that grew up in the same neighborhood. I kind of took them on this journey throughout the NBA and made sure they enjoyed the fruits of my labor too.”

-Antoine Walker, former NBA All-Star

During his NBA career, it is estimated Antoine Walker earned over $108 million. Despite his earnings, Walker ended up filing bankruptcy within two years of his retirement from the game. Overspending, poor investment decisions, and financially supporting family and friends led to his bankruptcy.  As a self-described ATM to over 30 people, Walker’s misguided generosity of giving out cash, often with nothing in return, to support the lavish lifestyles of his friends’ was detrimental to his finances. Where Drake’s friends helped to build him up, Antoine Walker’s helped to break him down.

Very few of us will ever be in the position to support 30 people’s lifestyles like Walker, but that does not mean we are immune to finding our friendships wreaking havoc on our finances.

Five Closest Friends

It is said we are the average of our five closest friends; this can be a blessing (Drake) or a curse (Antoine Walker). If financial responsibility is important to you, but it is not for your friends, it may be important to re-evaluate your top five. Maintaining the discipline to stick to a budget, avoiding the temptation to keep up with the Joneses, and progressing in your financial planning is difficult enough without the constant peer pressure of friends living a different lifestyle.

So, what should you do if you find yourself in a situation where your friends’ lifestyles no longer match yours, or if you feel held back from reaching your financial goals because of your friends?

Take ownership

First and foremost, you have to look at yourself. You may feel pressured by your friends to overspend, but at the end of the day, YOU are in control of swiping your card, not your friends. It is perfectly acceptable to say “No” or “Not this time” if you are invited to something that does not fall within your spending goals.

If you are not able to admit your role in your personal financial situation, then you will never make progress toward your goals.

Tell Your Friends

Your friends probably have no idea of your goals. For whatever reason in our culture finances are taboo and we definitely don’t discuss them with our friends, aside from maybe complaining about them. You don’t have to disclose all of your personal details, but let your friends know that you are going to start passing on some of the opportunities to hang out in order to save/pay down debt/invest to start making progress toward your goals. You might be surprised by the response you receive; there may be some in your circle battling the same problem and will be relieved to have someone on their side.

Encourage Them To Do The Same

Undoubtedly, you’ve been at a party longer than you’d like and were anxious to leave, but you didn’t want to be the first person to leave. Finally, someone decides to leave and in a matter of minutes the house clears out. All it took was one person to muster up the courage to leave and signal it was ok to call it a night…no one wants to be first. After you’ve told your friends about your financially motivated decision, invite them to join you. Peer pressure can work both ways; instead of it leading everyone to spend all of their money, it can lead to everyone saving money. Nights at the club can be replaced by hanging at someone’s house, or the next girls-only getaway can turn into a competition to see who can book the accommodations for the lowest price.

Re-evaluate Your Crew

It’s ok if your friends don’t want to participate, but if they are not supportive of your decision, it may be time to re-evaluate who you hang with. If you are constantly catching heat or being made to feel guilty for being selective with your dollars you will be more likely to cave to the pressure. Sometimes, you have to remove the peer pressure.

It’s not exactly the same thing, but it’s close…I can’t keep candy in the house because I know I’ll eat it…eat it all in a day. I know my weakness, so I eliminate it by just not having it around. If you are serious about your financial plan and sticking to your budget, you may have to eliminate the temptation.

The next time you’re with your friends, bring up the idea of trying to save more, pay down debt, invest, or whatever is your motivation for getting your finances in order and see what they have to say. You might be surprised by the responses, or you might realize it’s time to look for friends with similar priorities.

I know it sucks to think about seeing close friends a little less (I’m not suggesting you totally write them off), but if you’re serious about building wealth it may be a necessary step.

You’ll find strength in numbers–you just need to find the right people to make up those numbers.

A quick ending note: I’m happy to report Antoine Walker worked through his financial struggles and is now helping young athletes avoid the traps that caused him so much trouble.

Read More

USA Today: Once Bankrupt, Ex-Celtics Star Antoine Walker Now Teaching Dangers Of NBA Wealth

Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog should be considered advice, or recommendations. If you have questions pertaining to your individual situation you should consult your financial advisor. For all of the disclaimers, please see my disclaimer page.

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