“I just bought a new car!” “Congratulations!”
“Oh my gosh, that sweater is so cute! Is it new?”
“I decided to fly first class, because I deserve it.”
Spending money is pretty natural to share with people. We congratulate each other on big purchases, and sometimes even ask people why they haven’t bought a house yet, or replaced their car, or gotten a couch that’s not from Craigslist.
We don’t tend to share our salaries, debt levels, or saving successes. Which is a bummer, because that’s what I want to congratulate my friends on.
Luckily for me, over the course of the last year or so, my friends have come to recognize that I am obsessed with budgeting. I’ve recently had some awesome conversations:
“I just paid off one of my student loans!”
“I reset my 401(k) contribution to 20 percent!”
“My net worth is officially zero!”
Those are the kinds of things I want to congratulate people on. It takes planning and effort and attention to cut expenses and make headway on your financial goals. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to sign on the dotted line for a new car loan (or – yikes – lease).
Plus, sharing these successes normalizes them, and normalizes savings. For some weird reason, we live in a culture where purchases are something to be celebrated, but talking about your savings rate is bragging.
Telling people who have extensive student loans that you actually have money in the bank might even make them think that you should always pick up the bill.
In almost every other area of our lives, we’re comfortable sharing our wins with our friends. A great date, a promotion, a new personal best if you’re a runner, cooking a fancy meal. With money, though, you’re not supposed to say “I can’t afford it” – and if you do, you better actually not be able to afford it. The idea of saying “I’m not going to go out to dinner this weekend because I want to hit my 50% savings goal, want to come over instead?” is insane.
In my little circle, I’m working on changing that. I always look for cheap/free things to do, and I try to share a little bit about steps I take to save more without seeming judgmental. And when my friends share their wins, I give them a double-high-five and then blog about it.