How to avoid beer pressure and not lose your friends

Whether you’re going Sober for October, or just trying to save some cash, it’s time to say no to this round.

I’m saving for a wedding right now so I’ve cut back on social spend and prioritised putting money into savings. The whole point of Be Clever With Your Cash is that I know you can still have fun and spend money while you save. But it has to be on your terms and you have to stay in control of your spending. Which is why “beer pressure” is a problem.

For many people, getting rounds and splitting the bill are part convenience and part social. But there’s also a large element of people not wanting to seem tight or annoy their friends. And it means people won’t speak up.

A survey by the Money Advice Service showed that 67% of people expect to spend more on a round than they’d get back. A third said that they feel they lose out and pay for more than they’ve eaten, while 59% were ‘uncomfortable’ to ask to only pay for what they ordered. The survey estimated we spend £341 extra on average because we’re are worried we’ll look tight!

So how do you avoid ‘beer pressure’ without losing your friends? Here are my top tips:

1. Tell your friends why

The most important thing to do is to tell people that you’re on a budget. So if a certain restaurant or club is too pricey for you, just say so and see if everyone is happy to go elsewhere. Before people order their meal, just let the others know you’re going to just pay for your own meal as you’ve a limit on what you can spend.

If you need help planning a budget, my template and tools should help.

2. Don’t just say you can’t afford it

By saying “I’m saving for…”, people won’t think you were lying when they see you splash the cash elsewhere.

I could spend more money going out, but then I’d be saving less for the wedding. It doesn’t even have to be something big. It’s your money so it’s up to you how you prioritise your spending.

3. Treat others as you want to be treated

Don’t be selective and think it’s ok to split the bill when your meal cost more than the average.

And definitely don’t accept drinks as part of a round if you’ve no intention of buying them a drink back later!

4. Avoid large rounds

In the pub I’ll avoid rounds larger than 3 or 4 people so I can keep tabs on my tab. Any more and it’s difficult to keep to budget.

If someone offers you a drink as part of a round and you can’t afford to buy a round back for the rest of the group, just say thanks but you’re ok at the moment. If you’ve explained to friends why, they won’t think you’re being tight or rude.

5. Know what your meal costs

It can annoy some people, but if you figure out exactly what you’ll owe (don’t forget the tip) before they split the bill, your friends can just deduct it from the total and work it out for everyone else.

Use your judgement. If you’ve all had roughly the same, the difference between you is probably only pennies. It’s probably more hassle than it’s worth.

6. Stick up for others

I’ve often been at a meal where someone hasn’t eaten much or isn’t drinking – maybe they’re driving, unwell or pregnant (or just non drinkers), but people have forgotten this when splitting the bill. If this happens, point it out to everyone so they’re not paying for your pints.

You might also be able to get the drinks on a separate bill, making it much easier to split them for less people.

7. Don’t be tempted to up your order

You might think it’s easier just to change your food order or drink to a pricier option if someone else orders big, in order to get your money’s worth and split the bill. But really you’re just spending money you have planned to use elsewhere.

So, if everyone is getting a starter, don’t just get one too if you don’t need or want it. If you can afford it, great, push the boat out. If not, you’re better off following the steps above.

3 thoughts on “How to avoid beer pressure and not lose your friends

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