Financial Peer Pressure

by TTMK on March 2, 2015 · 4 comments

The following post is from staff writer Melissa Batai

I’ll be honest. I hated high school. I know some people love high school and say it was the best four years of their lives. Not me.

I hated the peer pressure and the expectations to conform. Early on, I knew my own personality and was confident with it, so I didn’t give in to peer pressure much. That made me a bit of an oddity.

When I went to college, I loved that most of the peer pressure seemed to be gone. If my friends asked me to join them in some activity (sometimes an illicit one), and I refused, they respected that. Our friendship wasn’t harmed. I was free to be who I was.

I naively thought that as I stepped into adulthood, peer pressure would cease.

Peer Pressure Ebbs When You Live Like Others Expect in Adulthood

For a while, it did. My husband and I married, and after a few years of scraping by, we became decidedly middle class. We bought a new minivan when our first child was born, and we faced steep monthly payments that strangled our budget. But no one knew that. What they saw on the outside was that we were living our prescribed “adulthood” role.

Our son wore adorable Gymboree outfits (which I bought on clearance or second hand, but again, no one knew that.) He went to a Montessori Japanese-immersion language school for preschool and kindergarten.

We were following our prescribed role, and we were financially bleeding to death.

Break The Norm, and Peer Pressure Rears Its Ugly Head

Three years ago, we said enough was enough and decided to quit living outside of our means. Since then, we’ve paid off half of our $58,000 debt while sometimes living on a smallish income.

We got weird, as Dave Ramsey says, because being “normal” made us broke.

And what do you know, the “weirder” we get, the more we find that peer pressure is alive and well in the adult world.

Our minivan that we bought when our son was little is now 10.5 years old. It has been paid off for 6 years, but it looks like it’s been through the wringer. It has 150,000 miles on it. One of the passenger side door handles half broke off and hangs askew. (Seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up!) The back door has rust around it thanks to many Chicago winters.

Here’s the really weird part of our lives. We only have one car because that’s all we can afford right now. Every morning, I drive my husband to the bus stop 15 minutes away. He takes a 45 minute bus ride to work, and I pick him up again every night. It’s not convenient, but it works for us financially.

Recently, my husband’s cousin has been good-naturedly teasing my husband about his lack of a ride. See his cousin, let’s call him Dave, has a salary four times as large as my husband’s. Dave just recently bought a BMW.

He ribs my husband about the inconvenience of not having a car, about riding the bus even though my husband has a professional job. My husband is like me and doesn’t give in easily to peer pressure. We’ve both resolved to live within our means no matter what sacrifices we have to make. We both know this is a season in our lives and that our standard of living will slowly increase as his salary increases every year.

But it is a good reminder that we’re living a bit countercultural, and whenever you do that, you will find that peer pressure, even in adulthood, is alive and well.

My Questions for You

Have you felt peer pressured as an adult?

If you live differently than mainstream America, do you find that people want you to conform and will pressure you to do so?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Chonce March 2, 2015 at 9:52 am

I think every adult feels financial peer pressure at one time or another. Right now I’m being pressured by others and my family to put my son in an expensive private school and while I love the school and its curriculum I’m just not ready to make that move right now. I need to work on getting out of debt and becoming more financially stable, plus my son is very young and I’m sure he won’t even remember kindergarten and first grade clearly when he gets older.

But luckily, I don’t give in to peer pressure easily and it’s becoming easier to feel like the ‘weirdo’ of the bunch. You’re absolutely right, being ‘normal’ does often involve spending mindlessly , putting up a front for the outside world, and drowning on the inside.


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom March 2, 2015 at 11:33 am

We live what I consider a normal life, but we do face some peer pressure. “When are you going back to work?” “Eventually you’ll want a bigger house” etc. Maybe they’re all right and our wants will change over time. But, we’ll make those changes if we want them on our own terms and our own timeline.


Little House March 3, 2015 at 8:23 am

We are also a one car family, but no one seems to give us any trouble about that. Our car is also 10-years old and I ride my bike to school most days, which sometimes gets brought up, but in a good way. Perhaps living in CA, counterculture is more accepted. The cost of living is outrageous here, so I think more people have to do crazy things to save money.


Jon @ Money Smart Guides March 4, 2015 at 8:44 am

I agree that at some point, every adult feels peer pressure from others. The ironic thing is, is that even though you are broke, you are far ahead of many other people that don’t look broke. They are just up to eyeballs in debt and are less than broke!


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