In the year 2000, a mere three months in to Y2K (mostly unscathed), an event occurred that would have unforeseeable but long-lasting effects on certain segments of the population: N*SYNC’sNo Strings Attachedcame out, featuring the oft-overlooked but unforgettable bop, “Just Got Paid,” which was in fact a cover of Johnny Kemp’s 1987 hit of the same name.
All of which is to say that the lyrics—“Thank God it’s Friday night and I juuuust got paid (money, money, money!)”—have been helping shape the millennial populace’s point of view on the way we spend money on the weekends for decades now.
But while it’s certainly true that weekends are an opportunity to relax, spend time with friends, and do whatever it is that gives you reprieve from the daily grind, it can also be something of a financial Slip ‘N Slide (i.e. if you’re not careful, you can come out the other side of it with a sore hip, a missing wallet, and bits of lawn in inexplicable places.)
Arecent studyconducted by Credit Karma showed that nearly 40 percent of young people spend moneythey don’t havein order to keep up with their peers; broken down further, 60 percent overspend on eating out, and more than 20 percent overspend on partying or other nightlife activities. In other words, it appears we all really took that “party hoppin’, feelin’ right” bit of the song to heart.
“The conundrum is that a lot of our socialization happens around activities that cost money,” says Erin Lowry, author of the forthcomingBroke Millennial Takes On Investing. “It’s so easy to default to ‘Do you want to grab drinks or dinner?’ and you’re probably spending an extra $100 to $200 pretty easily.”
Indeed. We spoke with six women about what they spent money on this weekend, and it comes as no surprise that they all wish they could’ve reigned it in a little bit.
Jenna, 31, writer in Los Angeles, CA
I think under $100 would be a good goal.
Friday: Drinks with a friend ($33.55)Saturday: Mani-pedi ($72); movie ($13); drink ($12)Sunday: Brunch ($22); books ($70.78)
Drinks or meals out, and shopping—clothes and home items are the biggest temptations. It also tends to be the time for self-care like nails, massages, facials, hair appointments, exercise classes, etc.
I want to enjoy my time socializing with friends, so it’s easy to justify spending money in that way. It’s easy to conflate spending money with pleasure or happiness or even freedom, and I think many people associate the weekend with indulging in that way.
Having friends over to cook, drink wine and watch movies rather than going out. Spending the day outside on a hike, reading at the park or beach instead of browsing shops and markets.
Merany, 27, kindergarten teacher in Oakland, CA
I don’t have a set number, really. I track my monthly budget pretty closely but know that some weekends might be more expensive, others less so. I’d like to be more mindful with what I’m spending.
Friday: Beer at local brewery ($7); dinner out ($30); iTunes movie rental ($3.99)Saturday: Breakfast out ($22); Korean spa entry fee ($30); Chipotle burrito bowl and drink ($12);cappuccino ($4.50); dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant ($15)Sunday: Got nails done ($30)
Definitely spending time with friends. My dad always said you can tell what’s important to a person by what they spend their money on and what they spend their time on, so if it’s just for me, I tend not to spend very much. But when it comes to quality time with my husband, friends, or family, I’m much more willing to drop a credit card down.
I was raised by an accountant and I’m fairly frugal in most parts of my life. The one thing I do struggle with is shopping with friends. I often feel subtly pressured to buy something. And if they buy something and I don’t, I feel like I’m not participating.
Get an espresso machine! My husband bought one a few years ago and I rolled my eyes so hard at the $500. It felt so excessive and I’m cheap. But I quickly changed my tune as he started bringing me professional quality cappuccinos every day. We rarely have coffee out anymore but still get to feel indulgent each morning as we sip our lattes.
Nicole, 31, self-employed tutor in San Diego, CA
Less than $50
Flight to San Francisco ($250); coffee and bagel at airport ($7); wine bar ($126); NYT crossword puzzles for plane ($4); sandwich at airport ($16); groceries ($28)
Frankly, FOMO. The easiest way to get together with friends is meeting up at bars/breweries or restaurants.
I try to be reasonable about it, but I also spend a lot of time working, so I let myself enjoy my time off.
Having people over for a meal instead of going out; picnics if the weather is good; game or movie nights with friends. Basically, just taking the time to plan more creative ways to get quality time with friends instead of defaulting to “Wanna hit happy hour?”
Kayla, 27, sales rep in Los Angeles, CA
Saturday: Coffee shop ($10.68); manicure ($45); car wash ($10); lunch out ($37.94); pub tab ($59.72)Sunday: Bagel shop ($28.75); gas ($39.92); new earrings at H&M ($14); new shoes at Aldo ($105.06); lunch and beers with friends ($43.47); groceries for NYE dinner ($54.75)
Eating and drinking out! I’m not the best with cooking at home. I only manage cooking over the weekdays so I will have leftovers for lunch at work. So during the weekends, I go a little overboard with eating out for every meal.
I work really hard during the week, spending about eight hours a day in an office, and I basically just go to work and go home. So I make sure to go out and have experiences and fun during the weekends.
Staying close to home. I go out of town a lot on the weekends, visiting friends or going on weekend trips, so staying close to home is how I save.
Janel, 27, feature film animator in Vancouver, BC
Not sure, exactly, but just less.
Dinner out ($26); sushi dinner with drinks ($70); movie tickets ($26); brunch ($31)
Definitely drinking! Specifically drinking out. Having a drink or two at dinner can really add up, and my boyfriend and I love to drink cocktails so it can get especially expensive.
Well, it’s the weekend! So why not let loose a little and go out for dinner and drinks, see a movie, etc. I always have grand visions that I’ll stay in and cook a bunch of food for the week but that pretty much never happens. It’s so much easier to run around the corner to my favorite sushi place at the end of the day.
Definitely cooking at home instead of going out. Planning ahead so that you have your fridge and pantry stocked to make at least a couple meals at home on the weekend, and maybe a few hangover-friendly foods (hello, frozen hash browns), can definitely help your wallet.
Sara, 33, in between jobs/dog-sitter in Los Angeles, CA
As someone in between jobs right now, I allow about a $50 budget.
$60 (but I went out with friends who treated me to meals)
Friday: Ingredients to cook dinner for friends ($20)All weekend: Ubers ($40)
Brunch, happy hours. Anything that seems like I’m getting a “deal” and allows me to be with my friends for an extended period of time.
Being unemployed has been a huge learning, growing, and ego-checking experience. I’ve had to learn to say “no” and also to allow people to treat me, which is actually been one of the hardest parts of maintaining a social life while unemployed. I never want to “owe” anyone anything, and I’ve never been unemployed before. My friends are a testament to the idea that what goes around comes around, paying it forward, and almost every other phrase that sounds cliche until you actually experience it. So I don’t splurge anymore. I hate spending large quantities of money at any time, but I always end up spending in a lot of smaller quantities. Seeing four separate charges for $25 seems better than one charge of $100.
Best practices for *not* overspending the weekends.
Here’s where I’ve honed a new skill set: If people want to go out, I ask if maybe they would like to have wine at my house or theirs before. I can make it out of Ralph’s for under $70 on [their buy six bottles at 30 percent off deal] and that will last at least four to five good group hangs rather than racking up a big bar tab every time people want to hang out.
Lowry acknowledges that one of the driving factors of weekend spending is the desire to spend quality time with friends, but attempting to keep financial stride with those around you isn’t always a possibility.
“We can very easily get into the Keeping Up With the Jones’ mentality. Especially when you’re a few years out of college and your friends are earning different salaries. You may not be playing the same game, financially,” she says.
Whatever the situation may be, here are a few tricks to help reign in that weekend spending:
According to the Credit Karma survey, two-thirds of young people experience buyer’s remorse after spending more in a social situation than they’d penciled in. The first step in remedying that problem? Understanding what you actuallywantto be spending money on.
“If you love to go out,” Lowry says, “go out. But that might mean you need to tighten up in other areas. Maybe that means less on clothes or you’re living in an apartment that’s a little cheaper.” She stresses the importance of being honest with yourself, and then committing to what you truly value over what is right in front of you.
Alia Dudum, millennial money expert atLending Club, adds that while the social media era has certainly made us ever more in-tune to things we want and has heightened our sense of constant FOMO, the make-or-break point is how we choose to process those wants.
“Take advantage of the things that are available to you,” she says, whether that’s taking your work discount at a gym over trying out the trendiest new class or having friends over for a night in rather than going out.
Before any meaningful change can take hold in your financial approach, first things first: You gotta get really real. “Money is so taboo and we’re not talking bout it openly,” says Dudum—an insight that has been shown to beespecially detrimental for women. Feeling isolated when it comes to financial stress is more common than we realize, she adds, and the more you talk about it with your friends, the better it is for everyone.
Lowry acknowledges that attempting to button up your budget with no allowance for fun is a non-starter, and there are seemingly small tricks you can implement that add up in a big way, such as opening a checking account with an institution that is entirely different from your checking account so it’s out of sight, out of mind, or even something as simple as renaming your savings accounts to remind you exactly what you’re saving for, like “Grad School” or “Honeymoon Fund.”
“That way, you remember exactly why you’re saving that money,” she says, “so when you’re tempted, it’s an immediate reminder of what you’re taking money away from.”
But most importantly, she adds, is keeping in mind that we’re all programmed differently when it comes to how we value money.
“Just because a certain method works for someone else doesn’t mean it’ll work for you,” she says. “Take your own psychology of money into account and don’t get discouraged.”