Peer pressure is often thought of as something that only affects young people, especially teenagers. Though peer pressure impacts people of all ages, and in various aspects of their lives. Peer pressure often has a big influence on a large portion of our society's purchasing decisions. People often feel the need to keep up with the most modern technical gadgets, and to keep up with the images that we are exposed to every day in the media. This, in turn, impacts how we spend our hard-earned dollars.
TUTORIAL: Microeconomic: Factors Of Consumer Decision - Making

Cigarettes
Given all the health concerns associated with smoking, it's hard to believe that this habit is still as popular as it is. Teenagers often feel huge peer pressure to smoke cigarettes. Whether it be due to a feeling of invincibility, associated with their young age, a lack of caring for the consequences, an attempt to create a specific image or simply an act of rebellion, many teens pick up this habit. Tobacco companies rely on this. Smoking is a tough habit to kick, so many of these teens will likely smoke for many years to come. Peer pressure, with regard to smoking, can also have a reciprocal effect, as many people also quit as a result of peer pressure.

Smartphones
High-tech gadgets seem to change and evolve at a never-ending pace. Almost everyone in our society feels the pressure to keep up with these changes. The desire to own smartphones keeps everyone continuously plugged-in and attached to our email, Facebook, instant messenger and an endless barrage of applications. A basic cell phone hardly seems good enough these days, even though some studies suggest that many people don't actually use a lot of the added features of their smartphones. Regardless, many people are so attached to these devices that people were completely outraged when BlackBerry experienced system outages in October 2011, despite the fact that their basic cell phone services were still operational. And, as this technology continues to evolve, people continue to buy and replace their smartphones with the latest devices that offer new services and have greater capabilities. It has been suggested that the smartphone could possibly render alarm clocks and point-and-shoot digital cameras obsolete, as people use the alarm clock functions on their phones more frequently and the cameras in these devices continue to improve. This technology doesn't appear to be going anywhere. In many ways it makes communication easier, but with that comes an expectation that people are plugged-in and available at all times.

Alcohol
Much like cigarettes, alcohol is another habit that many people pick up as teenagers. Teens, who are eager to fit in with the "popular crowd," will often drink as a means to fit in, or alternatively, as an act of rebellion against their parents or society. However, peer pressure, with regard to alcohol, is not only limited to teenagers. Many young adults feel immense pressure to go out to bars and clubs to drink, once they're of legal drinking age. This continues further into adulthood when people feel the pressure to engage in a social drink. Perhaps it's pressure to join the work crew for a Friday afternoon beer, or a tendency to order another drink at dinner just because your friend does. This habit is a very social one, and isn't generally problematic for most people, though for some people this social habit can be a segway into a serious addiction.

Apple Stuff
Apple products are absolutely everywhere these days. Whether it's iPods, iPads, iPhones or MacBooks, it's almost impossible to escape these trendy tech gadgets. What is it about Apple products that has people lining up for hours when they're first released? Besides their user-friendly appeal, and the immense need for many people to keep up with evolving trends and technology, Apple has cleverly surrounded their products with a certain cachet. Apple products are just cool. Every new launch offers users new capabilities, causing the most loyal of fans to rush out and replace their, now old, technology with the latest offering, so they can remain on the cutting edge of technology with the latest and greatest Apple gadget. Another purchasing trend, that Apple has identified, is the tendency of their customers to purchase one Apple device, and then to go on to purchase other Apple devices. This peer pressure is then being translated into brand loyalty, a great trend for Apple. Apple has also managed to appeal to a broad cross section of society, with everyone from young kids all the way up to senior citizens purchasing Apple products. (For additional reading, check out: How Should Apple Spend Its Money.)

Cars
Whether it's that first beaten-up car that teens save up for once they get their driver's license or a hot sports car purchased by someone middle-aged, cars have a way of inspiring a sense of freedom in most people. Many feel a desire to purchase a car that in some way defines them. Whether that be an environmentalist who buys a hybrid or a wealthy business person who purchases an expensive luxury car, society impacts almost everyone's vehicle purchasing decisions to some extent. A vehicle is such a large purchase that many people want to put quite a bit of thought into it. Marketing, public opinion and status often play into these decisions to a large degree. Many people feel an impulse to "keep up with the Joneses," and purchase cars that help them fit into their social circles or to pump up their egos. This is certainly not only limited to young people. For most teenagers and young adults, simply owning a car might be enough of a status symbol. It's also important for people to consider how purchasing a car will impact their overall financial situation. Expensive cars often come with big payments and higher insurance rates.

The Bottom Line
Peer pressure affects aspects of everyone's life, from childhood to old age. Whether it be through our clothing choices, food purchases, where we live, where we shop, where we go to eat or what we spend our entertainment dollars on, we are constantly impacted by those around us and by society at large. The important thing is to consider how these purchases impact you and your financial situation. Buying a luxury car is probably not a smart idea for most people in their 20s who are just starting out. Purchasing the latest and greatest tech gadget might not be the wisest decision when the technology seems to evolve at such a rapid pace. Constantly giving in to peer pressure could lead to debt. Consider each purchase before you make it, and the reasons behind the expenditure. If you're only doing it to fit in or to look cool in front of your friends, perhaps you need to step back and rethink whether you need it at all. (For additional reading, check out: The No. 1 Budgeting Tip For Young People.)

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