Feeling stingy stinks, but getting behind on your personal finances for the sake of appearances isn’t worth it. You may feel that you get pressured into going over your budget in order to keep up with everyone else in your neighborhood or social circle. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to spend less and save more – without making too many sacrifices or looking cheap.
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1. Establish Some Cost-Cutting Habits
There are all sorts of ways to cut costs behind the scenes and still live a full and exciting life. For example, you can try cooking more and eating out less. Keeping a kitchen stocked with fresh groceries and sampling new recipes might reduce the temptation to go to a restaurant. At the very least, you can pack a lunch to bring to work.
You can also ditch your expensive gym membership for a more affordable option, start running outside or just exercise at home. It’s possible to burn calories almost anywhere at any time if you’re dedicated enough. Another good move might be letting go of the habits that are hurting your wallet, like smoking or choosing expensive coffee over some of the cheaper brands.
Implementing all of these changes at the same time might not be easy. But some discipline and self-control can help you free up money for social engagements and other activities you value.
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2. Participate Sparingly
No matter how much you try, you can’t do everything. If your budget is suffering, it’s probably a good idea to reevaluate your choices and make some adjustments. That doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun whatsoever. After all, you can participate in an activity without fully committing to it.
For example, you don’t have to participate in an all-you-can-eat buffet. Instead, you can order what you want to eat or drink discreetly and pay for what you can afford. If that’s not enough, you can try sitting out on some activities.
3. Take Charge
Someone has to be the leader in a group. If you find that hanging back is causing you to spend more, you can start speaking up. If you’re the one to suggest your family or friend group’s activities, you can recommend cheap activities that’ll allow different people to spend the amounts they’re most comfortable with.
You can also offer to help divide the bill when it’s time to pay up. Sometimes splitting the bill evenly ends up being unfair to those who ordered in accordance to what they can afford. Instead, you can propose that everyone only pay what they actually owe. If someone isn’t happy with your suggestion, explaining your reasoning might convince them to get on board.
There’s a difference between being cheap and being frugal. Your friends and family will likely respect your need to spend less if you can strike the right balance between the two.
This article originally appeared on SmartAsset.com.