Your friends are important to you; they keep you sane, drive you nuts, and are your biggest social media supporters. You also like to have fun together. Depending on what your crew is into, you might find yourself facing quickly depleting funds after a night (or weekend) of fun. You might be asking…"Isn't there a way to spend still-exciting quality time with my friends, without dropping a huge chunk of change?" There is a way to still have fun and spend wisely, with a little bit of strategy.
The good news is you can balance fun friend time and meeting your financial goals, without sacrificing either. It just takes some smart planning, before the fun begins.
Everyone's budget and spending habits look different. Some friends might have more wiggle room for a spendy night out, and others may not. When your friends hit you up, you don’t have to say "no" to everything in order to save money; but you also don't have to bust your budget. Instead ask yourself, what's a must spend item, and where can I save without sacrificing on fun or saying "no thanks" altogether? It's all about being aware and intentional about when and how you're spending.
Next time you’re in planning mode, here’s a few things to keep in mind so you can keep the fun flowing while keeping your budget in check. Chances are your friends won’t mind saving a few bucks by spending money wisely either.
- Don’t let extra fees add up.
Ticket fees. Talk about something no one wants to spend money on. It might seem like a small amount, but eventually adds up, so avoid them if you can. Try this – if you’re headed to a show and have time in advance, offer to swing by the box office to pick up tickets to avoid fees for yourself, and your crew. (Just make sure your buds pay you back for that ticket!)
- Don’t get stuck paying more than you owe.
We’ve all been there: the check comes, its split evenly 6 ways, and suddenly you’re somehow paying the equivalent of 3 entrees instead of paying for the one you had. “Wait, how’d that happen?” Nip it in the bud from the get-go and ask the group to agree on separate checks before you order, or ask the waiter up front for your own bill.
- Be the Party Planner.
Planners often get first say on suggesting what to do, and where (which often translates to how much it costs). If you’re on a budget, and want to help out your friends who are too, take the lead making a budget friendly agenda. Perhaps a pre-dinner gathering at someone’s place for apps and drinks – in order to cut down on the cost of the dinner bill to come. Or, choosing a place with a weekly special, or an activity found on an online deal site (even better, f-r-e-e-).
- Strategize for Smart Spending.
Depending on your friend group, potluck or game night may not be everyone’s idea for a fun, cheap friend’s night. When traveling or hanging out with friends, don’t be shy about bringing up smart solutions with less cost. Or, choose what part of the activity lineup you want to participate in, and what parts you’d rather sit out to save some. Chances are you won’t be the only one who appreciates saving some dollars while still having fun.
Being conscious of your spending doesn’t always have to mean blanket cuts. Balance is the name of the game. It may take some planning in advance and even selling some new ideas to your friends (especially if the ideas are out of the ordinary). But making small changes today can go a long way in striking a balance of spending and ‘free-ish’ fun that works for you. If you’re able to cut back on splurging now, even if you don’t have to, you can start moving that extra money toward the financial goals you have.