But it is awkward to be the one person who cannot afford to do X (or unwilling to get into debt to do X). Some people will feel the need to give you a lecture about How You Only Live Once or they will offer to pay (and not realize that this is going to be more than a one-time thing for you) or if you're unemployed/in dire straights, lecture you about The Right Way You Should Be Doing Things. People like that lecture you because--well, who cares why? They're being tiresome. You could have done everything wrong to get into the position you're in, but at the end of the day the laws of physics win out. If you don't have it, you can't spend it and good on you for taking steps to either fix or mitigate the problem. (And if you are running up debt, that's just going to invite another lecture down the road, so save your ears from bleeding and jettison that tiresome jerk.)
Most people don't want to hurt or alienate their friends, however, so being upfront is helpful. And you will help your own state of mind if you learn about and think of alternatives you can suggest or you can take the initiative to arrange. (Granted, there are people who just refuse to listen and will bulldoze ahead, and in that case, you have every right to get verbally Medieval on them. People who refuse to listen are not people I want in my life.)
Things to say if you don't have the money--or are trying to save money--and your friends want to do something expensive:
- I can't right now, that's out of my price range.
- Do you want to come over to my place for dinner instead? I'll make dinner and you bring the salad/dessert/wine.
- Let's go for a walk instead.
- I hear they're showing free flicks at the city park, want to do that?
- I'd rather not go shopping, but I can meet you for coffee later.
Things to not do if you don't have the money or are trying to save money:
- Not actually be honest about what you're doing.
You will either a) make them more comfortable with saying no to things they can't afford or b) separate the wheat from the chaff among your friends. Because let's face it, if your friends are going to slag you off for wanting to get out of debt or save money or not spend money you do not have, they aren't worth having. I'd advise you to find a more compatible set of friends.