Discussing finances is never a fun conversation.
Christmas is a perfect storm for those of us on a budget—you’re spending more than normal on gifts for everyone, not to mention that there are so many seasonal outings that only happen this time of year. Your bank account is probably looking pretty drained right now.
But what you should do when you really need to say “no” simply because you just can’t afford it right now? We’ve got the proper etiquette to take to ensure you’ll stick to your budget and keep your friends in the process.
Be Honest With Everyone (Yourself Included)
First, you need to admit to yourself that your financial situation is a little less than ideal right now. Take a good look at your budget and see how much money you have allotted for extra expenses right now. If your “fun money” is next to zero right now, you probably can’t afford to go out with friends.
And if you’re not budgeting at all? You’re going to want to start to help you keep track of your purchases and ensure you don’t overspend every month.
Suggest A Different Time Or Plan
Knowing when your budget resets for the month and planning accordingly can help you turn a “no” into an easy “yes.” See if your friends could push the outing back a week or so, giving you a little more wiggle room when it comes to spending money.
Changing the plans entirely can help, too. For instance, dinner tends to be the most expensive meal of the day, especially since you’ll be more likely tempted to buy apps, drinks, and a dessert along with your meal. Seeing if your friends would be fine with breakfast or coffee is an easy way to still hang out without spending a lot.
You’re going to have to put in the effort to make sure your friends know you’re not declining their plans because of something they did. Since you’re going to be telling all of your friends “no” for the foreseeable future, they won’t take it personally.
Plus, if they’re really your friends, they should be more than understanding when it comes to you being on a tighter budget. They’ll know it’s not forever and should still try and include you in plans, especially if they’re going to cost less. And if they don’t? Then those aren’t the kinds of friends you need, anyway.
A lot of people take an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to plans. They either do nothing or everything with no in-between. But that isn’t the best approach to take when you’re on a budget and still want to hang out with your friends.
Your friends want you there for your company, so don’t feel bad about tagging along without spending any money. No shame in that game.
When all else fails, you’re just going to have to simply decline the invitation. Your friends shouldn’t put pressure on you to provide a reason as to why you can’t attend. This isn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially for those of you who are people-pleasers, but you’ll have to start somewhere.
But if you really can’t (or don’t want to) say no, make sure you allocate money from a future month to cover the extra expenses you’ll be having this month. Getting into debt for a fun night out just isn’t worth it most of the time.
Really trying hard to stick to your budget this holiday season? Then you’re going to want to read through our $5 or less gift guide!