Friends & Spending Influence

Last updated on November 16th, 2022 at 09:39 am

Are you laughing together about not spending money?

Friendships need to be cared for like any other precious resource in life. A recent article in USA Today provided a good argument for the fostering and care of friendships. The author cites the importance of ongoing friendships in that they can positively impact life and health:

Smarter friends make us smarter; more social friends make us more outgoing; healthy friends make us more health conscious. Who they are becomes part of us.

The article left me with two questions: a) what if we are highly influenced by others, and b) what if those others are constantly buying and discussing luxury material goods, whether or not they can afford them?

In other words, if we are overly concerned with and influenced by others, it would also follow that our spendthrift friends make us spend more, and luxury-focused, trendy friends would make us desire and buy luxury items more often? In many cases, those who relish buying high-status consumption items do so without the means: would we want to be influenced this way?

Feeling good about oneself is tied to standing in our immediate social groups: the “local ladder” effect and some of us are more influenced by our social group than others. So, while spending time with friends can positively impact wellness, comparing ourselves to others who are consistently spending beyond their (or our) means to do so could be damaging.

If your circle of friends tries to outdo themselves in terms of spending, and you compare yourself to them more than you should, you may find yourself unhappy. And broke.


Anderson, C., Kraus, M. W., Galinsky, A. D., & Keltner, D. (2012). The local-ladder effect social status and subjective well-being. Psychological Science, 23(7), 764-771.

Norton, M. I. (2013). All ranks are local: why humans are both (painfully) aware and (surprisingly) unaware of their lot in life. Psychological Inquiry, 24(2), 124-125.

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