This is a guest post from Neal Frankle, a Certified Financial Planner and the blogger at The Wealth Pilgrim. Neal is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. His first post explored the benefits of starting a side business. For background on Neal’s personal story, check out his recent article about how he went from homeless to homeowner.

Have you ever sat down at a restaurant, reviewed the menu, wanted to leave but stayed anyway? Did you stay because you didn’t want anybody to think you were a cheap tight-wad?

Did you ever go shopping with a friend and bought clothes that were too expensive? Did you do this because you didn’t want your friends to think less of you?

Did you buy the wrong car because you felt pressure to make an impression on the friend who went shopping with you?

Do you avoid going shopping or dining with other people specifically because you hate being in these situations?

If so you aren’t alone. I struggle with these problems too.

Several years ago I went clothes shopping with some buddies and found myself in that situation exactly. I wanted to upgrade my wardrobe, and since these guys were pretty smart dressers, I asked them to take me out for a shopping man-date.

They are great guys so of course they were only too happy to help me out. They took me to all the stores that they shop at and we found some really neat items. I tried the suits on. I have to admit it…..I liked the way I looked in them. I tried on one particular Zegna suit that was especially snappy. I felt like a million bucks in it. But then when I saw the price tag, I just about had an aneurism.

I was scared and frustrated. I wanted to run for the nearest Ross Dress for Less I could find but when I saw my buddies giving me the thumbs up, I felt trapped. I worked up the best fake smile I could, unleashed my credit card, and took the suit home.

As it turns out, I’m glad I bought the suit and I still love it to this day. But the point is, I was definitely out of my comfort zone. And rather than say anything, I spent money I didn’t want to spend because I didn’t want my buddies to think less of me.

That suit cost me a lot of money and self-esteem. I felt weak because I didn’t have the grit to tell my friends I didn’t want to spend that much money. What could I have done differently?

  • I could have been honest with my friends when I first asked for their help. I should have communicated what my comfort level was before we went shopping. When I think about the money these guys make and the professions they are in (both are actors) I should have realized that we define “expensive” differently. (Actually, these guys don’t really have a definition of expensive). I should have thought about the kind of money they spend on clothes and I should have told them what my limits were.
  • I should have been honest with myself. Part of the reason I wanted these guys to take me shopping was to show them what a big spender I was. I didn’t realize this at the time, but thinking back, it’s very clear to me what my real motives were. Had I spent a few moments to think about it, I would have understood this immediately and possibly done it differently.

Trying to impress somebody is a lie. It’s inauthentic and it’s dumb. Why should I try so hard to get other people to like a person that isn’t really me? It makes no sense.

I believe that if I take these steps in the future, I won’t find myself in this kind of awkward and dishonest situation again. But even if I blow it and wind up back in that clothing store (or equivalent thereof), the solution is still the same — honesty.

I think it’s better to admit that I made a little mistake quickly than continue to lie and make a bigger one.

I’m a bit of a people pleaser by nature. The process I described above is sometimes difficult for me. I’m getting better at it even though I haven’t mastered it yet.

Do you struggle with this issue? Do you spend money differently when you are around certain people? How have you dealt with this?

Photo by Danielle Blue.

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