budget living

Ask Em: When friends want to go out but you’re on a budget

[37/365] Empty your pockets[This is a part of a series called “Ask Em”, where I will answer any questions you send me (and also throw them out to our smart readers for their input). If you’ve got a question for the B&B community, send me an email at em [at] blondeandbalanced [dot] com and I (we) will do our best to answer it! (You can remain anonymous if you prefer.)]

Hi Em!

I love your frugality tips—my fiancé and I are working really hard to pay down our credit card debt so we can start married life together without that burden on us. (Let me tell you, planning a wedding without accumulating any more debt is a HUGE lesson in frugality!)

We’re doing really well, overall, about making smart money choices and being disciplined, because we know it’ll pay off in the long run. But the trouble comes when it comes to our friends. They’re mostly single and living the fun, single life: going out for drinks and dinner all the time, movies, shopping, etc. It’s really hard for me to say “no” when they invite me for a girls’ night because I want to see them, but the thought of $10 cocktails makes me cringe. The same thing goes for my fiancé—his buddies are always inviting him to sports bars to watch games and things like that.

How do you stay sociable without totally blowing your budget? We don’t even really have an “entertainment” budget for us, we’re so strict right now, so I don’t know what to do. Help, please!

~Frugal but Friendly


Dear Frugal:

I completely understand where you’re coming from. It’s something The Hubby and I had to figure out when we first got really serious about our budget (also right around the time we got engaged…really makes you start thinking seriously about your finances, doesn’t it?).

The good news is you can absolutely still hang out with your friends without having to spend a fortune. Just because they’re living a more expensive lifestyle, that doesn’t mean you have to do the same when you hang out with them. Be honest with them about the fact that you’re trying to start your new life off right, so you can’t do some of the same things you used to with them…but, you still want to hang out with them. Then you can suggest some other fun things to do that don’t have such a high price tag.

Here are some things we’ve found that work with our friends:

Girls Night In

Instead of girls night out, we go over to someone’s house and have a total old-school girl fest like we used to in high school…silly rom coms, doing each other’s nails, facials, you name it. It’s super-relaxing and (I think) actually a lot more bonding than trying to shout at each other over night club music.

The key to this, of course, is that the s.o.’s stay out of the picture for the night, but that’s usually a good time for them to have their guy time!

Game Nights In

The Hubby was also a big sports bar fan in his college and pre-me days, and he liked the camaraderie of a whole bar full of people cheering when their team scored. (Plus the two-for-one drink specials when they did.) But since he was there for a few hours, he never just got two-for-one-drinks. Him and his friends would start out with nachos or another app, get burgers halfway through, and sometimes get something else during the last bit of the game. (How do guys eat so much?) The total bill for one game could be pretty bad.

Now, we have all the guys over to our house for games (the one housewarming splurge I allowed The Hubby was a huge flat screen TV that was on deep discount). I make homemade nachos or chips and dip, they make a couple DiGiorno pizzas midway through the game, and everyone else takes turns bringing the beer for everyone. It’s so much less expensive than going out, and The Hubby actually found that he likes watching the games in the comfort of his own home more than being in a crowded bar. (He says it’s because he’s getting old.) 🙂

Deals Sites

I’ve talked before about how The Hubby and I love deals sites for our half-price date nights. They work great for going out with friends, too!

Sign up for all your local deals sites and you’ll get email alerts each day with new deals. I’ve gone out to fancy sushi restaurants with my girlfriends, enjoyed mini spa days, and sampled delicious new wine bars by snagging deals on these sites. And since my purchase gets me twice what I paid for it, it usually covers my “share” of whatever the bill is, so I can enjoy some higher-end outings for the same price I’d pay if we were just meeting for coffee instead.

What about you guys? What other ideas do you have for “Frugal” on how she can hang out with her friends without spending a ton of money?





photo credit: Matt Erasmus

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