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Peer Pressure Cuts Both Ways – Use it to Your Advantage

Peer Pressure Cuts Both Ways – Use it to Your Advantage

This is a story of how my husband and I recently almost talked ourselves into a buying a new vehicle a few months ago – possibly to keep up with the Joneses on some unconscious level – and how positive peer pressure snapped us out of it.

One of our vehicles is a 2006 Sienna, aka “The Beast.” It’s tan. It has dings. It has over 300,000 kms on it. Four kids and thirteen years of heavy use has left the interior with a lot to be desired. Despite it’s age, and battle scars, however, it has been completely reliable, and it’s still going strong.

Where things nearly went wrong.

A few months ago, we started not trusting our faithful vehicle. It needed some expensive repairs, and we started to wonder if this was the beginning of the van turning into a bottomless money pit. We came up with all kinds of reasons why we should get rid of the van, but if we were being really honest, the most truthful reason was that we wanted a nicer-looking ride.

On some level, I think we were trying to keep up with the Joneses. Initially, the conversation was about getting an older vehicle (but still newer than The Beast), but it quickly escalated to discussions of getting a vehicle that was only one or two years old. Within the space of an evening, we had made an agreement that we would go and look at some vehicles over the weekend.

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Positive peer pressure to the rescue.

One of the most helpful things that I have done for myself is to surround myself with people who are mindful with their money. The same peer pressure that causes us try to keep up appearances and fit in can work for us to help us lower our consumption. The key is to find the right community. For me, that has meant certain online communities. The people in those communities are intentional with their spending, and hanging out there helps me harness the power of positive peer pressure.

Thankfully for us, the day after my husband and I had made the agreement to go look at vehicles, there was a thread online in which people were posting (bragging, actually) about their older vehicles, and showing pictures of their odometers. It was a perspective shift that came at just the right time.

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Back on track.

Later that evening, my husband and I had a very different kind of discussion. It was conversation about what we would be choosing not to do if we went out and bought a new vehicle. Right now, there are things that are more important to us than a new set of wheels. Granted, that may change in the not too distant future, but for now, it’s not a priority. When we considered what we’d be giving up in order to replace The Beast, suddenly, driving it just a little while longer seemed just fine. Good, even.

I often talk to my clients about connecting their spending with their values. This is what it can look like in practice. It’s about being aware of our choices and realizing how making a choice to do one thing often means choosing not to do something else. It’s about giving ourselves the gift of time to reflect, and evaluating what’s really important.

[Related: A Money Conversation Part 2: Getting It In Writing]


Natasha Knox is the founder of Pax Financial Planning and Education Inc. She helps people think, feel, and act better with their money.

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