I’ve gone six months without buying a single non-essential item (part of my $pending Fast), and I’m not going to lie, sometimes it’s tough. But over these last few months, I’ve realized why. Not spending makes me feel like I’m not participating. I miss hanging out with my friends at happy hours and dinners. I miss going to the movies or to the mall without worrying about my bank account. And sure – while you can always go on a walk with your friend – going to a rockin’ spin class or sauna just feels more fun.
These *frugal* days you’ll find me less likely to suggest heading out for dinner with friends and more likely to suggest cooking dinner with a bottle of wine at home instead, but that doesn’t mean I’m not having fun. Making time for friends when you’re just starting out in your career is tough, but when you add limited funds to the mix? It’s even harder. So, what’s a frugal socialite to do? Get creative.
Here are some ideas to help making hanging out with friends a little nicer for your wallet:
- Nix the cabs/ubers/lyfts. Seriously. Either start walking or, carpool, or offer to DD, but you’ve got to stop spending money on having other people drive you around. Obviously this is the responsible choice if no one in your party is good to drive, but if you’re being a true frugal socialite, you’d just offer to DD so you can have a night of fun fo’ free. Plus, walking more and/or drinking less is healthier anyways.
- Handy Tip: For the ladies in high heels: just give up that tiny party purse and bring one that you can stash your flats in once you get to the event…this way you save your feet AND your wallet (& you’re less likely to trip on uneven sidewalks!).
- Limit your happy hour. This kind of goes without saying, but you really need to put a leash on the alcohol spending. I limit myself to 1 beverage per happy hour event. That’s it. I don’t start a tab, I pay in cash if I can, and I nurse that baby like it’s actually my first-born. My aggressive debt repayment plan doesn’t have room for me to be drinking happy hour cocktails like they’re nothing (discounted does NOT mean free), but my need for social-fun-time also needs to be met. Thus, compromise is the answer. You get to hang with your friends/coworkers/whomever, but you also get to save money and have the ability to drive yourself home afterwards (win-win!). While you’re at it, skip the happy hour apps too unless you’re splitting them with someone.
- Handy Tip: If you’re concerned about peer pressure from your less frugal friends and you’ve already hit your drink quota, ask the bartender for a ginger ale with a lime wedge. It looks like a grown-up cocktail….but isn’t. 😛
- Have dinner…at home. I love me a good meal out (just ask my boyfriend). That being said, it’s next to impossible these days to go to a restaurant and spend less than $20 per person., which makes it kind of a dealbreaker for me and my sad budget. So what’s a frugal socialite to do when they own a kitchen and don’t have money to eat out? Potluck! Or…make a cheap meal for your friends and have them BYOB. With either option you get to eat, drink, and be merry – all while keeping your bank account happy! The added bonus is that most of your friends are secret grandparents and would rather chill at an apartment than hang at a crowded bar, so you might find some people are more willing to hang out with you at your frugal den of fun than they otherwise might be. Bonus: you can actually hear the television if you were getting together to watch an event.
- Handy Tip: Have some board games or cards and extra glasses (your plastic college mugs totally count) on hand so you’re always ready for friends to bring the fun to you.
- Say “Yes” to free. I don’t know about you, but my city has a million free events. There’s free rooftop yoga, free concerts, free parades, free pet festivals, free parks. Once you embrace the frugal fun lifestyle, you’ll find there’s plenty to do – it just might take you a teensy bit out of your comfort zone. For instance, free yoga sounds crazy intimidating, but hey…it’s yoga, it’s free, and it’s something for you and your friends to do. Similarly, heading to free events with your local undergrad’s alumni chapter sounds kind of like you might not know anyone there, so why not invite a friend and check it out? It’ll be way more fun than you think (probably), and if it’s not? Well, at least you didn’t spend any money. Free events give you something to do, might expand your horizons, and at a minimum, are going to be a very fun story to tell later. Don’t forget to take pics for Instagram/Snapchat either – free events look just as cute in that Nashville filter as paid ones.
- Handy Tip: Reach out to your friends! My guess is you aren’t the only one repaying student loans or a credit card. Your friends may never tell you, but they’ll probably LOVE not spending much money just as much as you do. It never hurts to send a simple text and find out.
- Become a host. No, I don’t mean get a job at a restaurant or start selling tupperware (though that might bring in some extra income). But, if you’re already starting to have more hangouts at your friend’s apartments, why not start your own club? Organize a monthly book club, supper club, or poker night, have it rotate between friends’ houses, and BYOB/potluck for the food. This way, you can replace your expensive Girls’ Night activities with something fun that doesn’t decimate your savings. Plus, if you’re ever not-poor and feeling fancy, you can upgrade all of these events. Book club can become fancy-wine-and-cheese-night, supper club can morph into full-on dinner parties, and poker night…you can just up the ante. 😛
- Handy Tip: Make sure you cater your club to your friends’ interests. Some of my friends would love a book club, but not all of them. By planning different events, you can have social outings with everyone. Also, pick a date monthly that always stays the same (like the 2nd Tuesday), that way people can mark it on their calendars for eternity & always be available.
No, I’m not living the champagne-sipping, city fashionista life of my dreams…yet. But that doesn’t mean I have to be a hermit either. There are ways to blend fun and frugal – you just might need to work a little harder to do it. Trust me though, once you get the hang of it, you won’t envy those chicks that spent $150 at the rooftop bar that you saw on Facebook. Sure, they look glitzy, but I get to make an extra payment on my credit card…can you say glamorous?
Don’t forget Dave’s famous saying, “Live like no one else now so later you can live like no one else.” You’re being frugal for a reason, and your friends should understand that. One day, I won’t need to spend 1/3 of my income on debt, and that’s worth a little (or a lot) of PBR sacrificing now.
P.S. What do you frugal socialites do for fun without breaking the bank?
Finally, big news here at Dames in Debt!
Starting next week, I’ll be running a 6-part series about paying off my credit card using Payoff. They’re a pretty cool company that refinances credit card debt. The series will focus on the concept of refinancing debt, whether or not it’s a good idea for you, and my personal experience doing it. Get excited!