Financial peer pressure
My name is Connor Newton and I’m a sophomore at ASU with a major in filmmaking practices and a minor in history. I’m also a member of Sun Devil Roundnet (which is definitely worth checking out if you haven’t heard of it). During my first year at ASU, I commuted to class daily from Phoenix while living at home. Other first-year students were always asking me why I had decided not to live on campus.
I chose to live at home to save money, but I didn’t want to discuss my financial situation with every person I met. This constant questioning felt like a kind of peer pressure to fit in. It was financial peer pressure, and even though it was probably unintentional, it was still hard to deal with.
I’ve noticed that a lot of pressure I’ve felt in college to spend money comes from this sort of unintentional misunderstanding. As college students, it can be hard to combat this pressure, especially as more and more financial responsibility falls on (some of) us instead of our parents. Everyone’s situation is different and while some people are financially secure, others are more budget-conscious and need to make sure they have money for rent and tuition, while hoping they have enough left over for the occasional dinner out with friends.
Over the past year, I’ve found a few ways that help to alleviate some of the financial peer pressure I’ve felt.
Seek supportive peers
When making friends in college, sometimes you end up befriending the people living on the same floor as you, or the people you meet in a club. While these are great ways to meet new people, seeking out friends who truly care about and support you can significantly reduce any type of peer pressure, financial or not. These types of friends are the ones most likely to understand your financial situation, no matter what it is.
Know what you can afford
Taking responsibility for your own finances can be intimidating, but knowing how much and how often you can spend is key (check out ASU’s budgeting worksheet for students to build your own budget). Wondering, “wait, maybe I can actually afford this,” just gives the pressure more power over your mind. Creating a budget for yourself is a good way to combat this. With a plan in place, it becomes much easier to say “no, I can’t go to San Diego this weekend” because you know it’s not in your budget, or “I can definitely check out that new restaurant next weekend” when you know you’ll have more cash on hand.
Recognize you are unique
Sometimes people suggest an expensive place to eat, or, in my case, a place to live and don't take into consideration the fact that you might be in a very different financial spot than them. Remembering that you have a unique situation is vital whenever a conversation like this comes up. Comparing yourself to others affects your mind negatively; stay true to your own values.
The bottom line is to really just be confident in yourself. Some people may not approve of or understand your financial decisions, but that’s okay. Sticking to your decisions and having faith in yourself is the most important piece in coping with financial peer pressure.
Story by Connor Newton, Sun Devil Storyteller