Who Influences You?

Are you influenced by what other people say and do, or do you make your own choices?  Everyone wants to believe that they are independent thinkers and not influenced by what others say.  But the reality is that we’re constantly being told what to do by friends, family, and co-workers.  Even television and the news media shape the way we see the world and guide our choices.  We know our peers influence our decisions, but how strong is that influence really?

The Wall Street Journal ran an article recently where an interviewee stated, “Back in the day, I’d have friends who had nice cars, who’d buy things, and I somehow got tempted to buy those things.”  I wrote about the Joneses being a bad influence.  According to motivational speaker Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  There really is a lot of truth to this saying.  The people you surround yourself absolutely give you a reference point to your own life choices.  And that reference point influences what kind of lifestyle you lead and what house you live in, among other things.

So you’re telling me to dump all of my friends?

No, but I would agree with Michael Dell’s philosophy that you don’t always want to be the smartest person in the room.  But don’t take that literally.  What I mean is other people’s personalities and lifestyles tend to “rub off” on those they socialize with.  Hanging out with a bunch of doctors obviously won’t turn you into a doctor.  But hanging out with free spenders will definitely influence you to spend more freely and jeopardize your budget.  When you observe the decisions others make, those decisions suddenly appear more reasonable to you, for better or for worse.

“If they can buy a new car, I can do it too!”

On the other hand, hanging out with people who are interested in saving and investing will provide you with new ideas and strategies for ways you can improve your own financial situation.

“If they cook dinner at home most nights and pack their lunch for work to save money, I can do it too!”

This blade cuts both ways.

If you’re reading MyCPALife right now, you’re already on your way to improving your financial situation.  That’s because someone with an interest in personal finance will naturally start taking steps to improve their financial situation.  If your social circle isn’t interested in personal finance, online communities are a low-barrier way to immerse yourself in the thoughts and ideas of those who are.

What are you doing this week to save money?  Tell me about it in the comments!