How to Deal with the Peer Pressure to Spend More Money

Teaching students about emotional spending & navigating peer pressure

Managing money can be hard enough when it is just oneself. When friends and peers get involved things can get even more complicated. Everyone will struggle at one point or another to balance pleasing their friends with being responsible with their money.

How can we help our students deal with situations that pull at both their friendships and at their wallets? Here are 5 tips that have worked for others. We can share and discuss these with our students. Practicing these while they are young could set your students up for a lifetime of healthy spending habits and better navigating peer pressure.

Tip #1 Limit Yourself to Cash on Hand

Many students don’t realize how essential it is to know how much money they have at any given point. Using cash can help some students, because they always know how much money you have to pay with. They can’t overspend their money with cash and it is easy to divide up funds so they have a little stashed away for a rainy day. Keep spending in check like Niecy, 15 from Michigan does: “The way I regulate the amount of money I spend when I’m with friends is by only taking what I should/ want to spend. For example, if I have $100 in my pocket and I don’t want to spend it all at once, I would take $50 with me to the mall to keep me from the temptation of spending more than needed.” 

Ask your students to consider a time they spent more than they should have and reflect on what they could have done differently. What were they feeling in that moment that caused them to overspend? Encourage them to come up with a plan and maybe a cash-only budget each time they go out.

High School Teachers: Download this lesson plan to dive in even deeper with students to budgeting.

Middle School Teachers: Have students log into EVERFI’s FutureSmart, lesson 2 on Smart Shopping, to practice not overspending.

Elementary School Teachers: Log in to set up your classes on Vault, to play through the games and quizzes in Lesson #3, Making Plans with Money.

Be that teacher, the one with the lasting impact

Set up your EVERFI account to help your students build smart spending habits.

Tip #2 Have a Game Plan

If you know you are going out to a movie with your friends, plan ahead for the potential money traps. Researching online for the cost of a movie ticket will help prevent any sticker shock. Odds are good you’ll want something sweet to eat during the movie. Instead of paying for overpriced (and sometimes even stale) popcorn, plan to bring in your own M & Ms from the corner store rather than coughing up the extra money at the concession stand. 

Ask your students about examples from their real lives where they could make spending game plans. Encourage them to think through how they might share with their friends how much they want to spend. How do they think their friends would react? While most friends are supportive, it may make students feel more comfortable with the idea of advocating for themselves.

Tip #3  Know Your Needs

Encourage students to ask themselves the following question with every purchase:

Do I really need it, or do I just really want it? 

It’s wise to know what is essential and what is just extra. “Treat Yo Self” culture can really put the pressure on you to make impulse buys. Making your needs the priority should always come first. This means knowing what you need now and what can wait till later.

Ryan, 14 from Massachusetts considers his wants vs his needs. “I try not to buy anything unless I ABSOLUTELY love it. There’s nothing wrong with not buying anything, or just saving your money. I’d rather have an extra $100 in my car savings envelope than a jacket that I’ll wear once and forget about.” Your friends will appreciate your savvy saving when you are giving them rides in your new car.

Ask your students to make a list of needs and a list of wants. Encourage students to think about a big want they may prefer to save for, over smaller wants.

High School Teachers: Have students log into EVERFI’s *NEW Financial Literacy digital lessons to dive into banking and budgeting for their wants and needs, in a modern era.

Middle School Teachers: Check out this lesson plan and student activity to extend the conversation.

Elementary School Teachers: Download this lesson plan to dive into more responsible money choices.

 Tip # 4 Keep Reality In Check

Social Media influences everything from the way we talk, the experiences we desire, to buying the latest and greatest promoted item. Being aware that what you see on the internet is definitely not what you see in reality keeps the pressure off. Trends are fun, and you can allow yourself to indulge from time to time. However it’s important to be able to resist social media pressure. Balancing your spending with ideas like “High/Low fashion”, which means buying one more expensive piece like a pair of designer jeans and pairing it with a basic affordable item like a white tee shirt from Target is just one way to get the best of both worlds, especially in the sales rack. 

Ask your students to evaluate and think critically about some example social media posts in which influencers may be promoting something like fashion or otherwise. Have your students think through the negatives and ask if they can trust the individual and to think through the poster’s motivation.

Middle & High School Teachers: Consider logging into EVERFI and letting students explore the lessons in Ignition Digital Wellness & Safety to think critically about the online community they surround themselves with.

Tip # 5 Keep Real Friends in Your Circle

Your students may already know it, but it helps to hear it again. Peer pressure is all about the people in your circle…both inner and outer. We can’t please everyone and we certainly don’t want to go unvalued by people who take our true worth for granted. True, loyal friends will respect your feelings and choices about how you spend your hard earned money. Putting some distance between you and the people who don’t really have your back when it comes to spending habits may seem harsh. Saying “No” and setting boundaries can be difficult. True friends will find a way of understanding and supporting your needs and decisions, and hopefully you will be able to do the same. 

Here’s to students making smart choices when it comes to their spending habits and the friendships they build.

Be that teacher, the one with the lasting impact

Set up your EVERFI account to help empower your students to build healthy spending habits.


Nicole Albion