Sad man in cafe

A Costly Coffee And Catch Up

“Dear Penny,
A friend insists on us meeting at Starbucks but it’s costing me a fortune. I don’t know how to tell her that I can’t really afford to be spending money like that. It’s embarrassing.”
Keiran P, Kent

Hi Keiran, thanks for your letter,

It’s great having ‘friend-time’ and meeting up for a regular ‘chin-wag’. Who doesn’t love doing that? But if we don’t have the money, we need to avoid peer pressure. The secret here is finding the right balance between ‘having a life’ and not making your money worries any worse than they need to be.

Money guru Martin Lewis has some great tips for just this sort of situation. Little expenses and treats can add up to big money over a year. To demotivate us, this simple online tool spells out the impact. See it here.

Simply enter items like cigarettes, daily sandwiches, newspapers and it tells us how much we spend in a year. Maybe show your friend, SD, how much you’re shelling out on coffees.

The tool also tells us how long we worked to pay for these things. Printing out the results and sticking it to the wall or fridge will be a constant reminder.

Dealing with peer pressure can be challenging. Try my top tips:

  • Only take cash out with us. This might limit the temptation to overspend on plastic
  • Find a money buddy – a close friend or family member we can trust – to watch out for us and keep us on track
  • Have an ‘exit strategy’. If going out with friends who tend to pressure us to overspend, ask someone to message at an agreed time telling us to come home
  • If we can’t afford to buy a round, we shouldn’t take part. We won’t then feel pressured by peers
  • Offer to host the get together at your place. Tempt friends with home baking, especially now the ‘bake-off’ season is in full swing

To save money on coffees out, think offers and deals:

  • Coffee chains often offer a free coffee if we install their app on our phone
  • Get paid in free drinks and food vouchers for doing reviews or ‘secret shoppers’
  • Go ‘local’ to support a local community café, church or foodbank drop-in instead of the big expensive coffee chains.

Wow, I surprised myself with all those ideas. I hope some of my suggestions help. And good luck with your coffee date.

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