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How to Balance Frugality with a Social Life

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Your friends all want to do expensive things — hit the bars, take a beach trip — but you’re broke. You don’t want to be an antisocial hermit, but you can’t afford to spend $15 on a margarita. How can you maintain a social life when you don’t have any cash? Here are a few tips.

# 1: Join a club or group. Convert solitary activities into social events. If you like to read, why not join the local book club? If you’re interested in running, why not join a runner’s group? This helps you meet new friends and maintain a social life that’s not dependent on hitting the bars and dining at restaurants. Websites like Meetup.com can help you make local connections based on similar interests.

#2: Volunteer. Not only is volunteering good for your wallet, it’s also a great thing to do for your community. If you love animals, then offer your time and skills at an animal shelter. You’ll make new friends who care about the world, and even though you’re broke, you’ll appreciate how much you do have.

#3: Host a BYOB party. Host a party for your close friends, and tell each person to pitch in with snacks and alcohol. By throwing a potluck party, you can turn your home into the center of your social life without spending a dime!

#4: Try outdoor activities. Summer is prime time to get outside and enjoy the environment. Go for a bike ride, try hiking, or pack a picnic to a local park. Most cities in the US have beautiful parks that you can enjoy for free. You can toss a frisbee, kick around a soccer ball or just spend hours people-watching.

#5: Host a movie or TV marathon. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime provide low-cost alternatives to cable. If you subscribe to any of these services, invite your friends over to watch your favorite TV show or movie trilogy.  It’s virtually free, and a great way to connect with friends. Did someone say “Game of Thrones” marathon?

#6: Hit happy hour. What should you do if your friends insist on going to a bar? Suggest that you go only for happy hour, when drinks and appetizers are discounted, sometimes by as much as half-price. Alternately, split an appetizer with friends, or go to bars that feature Groupon, Amazon Local or Scoutmob deals.

#7: Shoot billiards. If your friends want to hit the bars until 3 a.m., suggest a location that has no cover charge and features pool tables. This will allow your friends to spend as much money as they want on alcohol, while you spend only a few quarters playing pool. Even though you won’t be drinking, you’ll get to spend time with your friends.

#8: Take a fitness class. Do you go to the gym? Does it offer free fitness classes? If you answered ‘yes’ to both questions, invite your friends to join you at a fitness class, or make an effort to befriend someone new at your gym. You would be surprised how many friends you can make just by working out.

Kennedi writes about fitness and beauty on a budget at Face & Fitness. 

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AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

20 Comments

  1. It’s hard to go wrong with outdoor activities. You can always save a bundle and have fun with friends/family.

    • @Derek — Outdoor activities are fun, especially in warm weather!

    • I agree! I recently leaned about a new running group that meets weekly at my local World of Beer. Free and very social!

    • @Derek- Good point about outdoor activities. I especially like the point about Happy Hour! Excellent at to save!!

  2. Kennedi, you forgot roller blading, basketball, volleyball (one of my favorites just because I like it – not really that good though), tennis (enjoy playing this with my wife a couple times a year), canoeing, fishing, swimming at a lake or pool, swinging, and I can’t remmember the last time I saw a merry-go-round.

    • @Chris — Swinging on a swingset is fun at any age! I’m much “too old” to swing on a swingset, but I still do it! Basketball is also a great sport, and cheap or free.

  3. I love having a social life, but it sure can get expensive. I try to do some activities that cost money, and then balance it with some of the more frugal ones that you’ve mentioned above.

    • @Daisy — Balance is the key!

    • @Daisy- Good point! I try to do the same and I always try to come up with a free idea along with with other ideas when meeting with friends.

  4. Great ideas! We’ve done many of these things and often have fun doing them. I find that the outdoors ones are best as we get to have fun and be active at the same time.

    • @John – Outdoor activities are great. You get fresh air, sunshine, and its free or cheap!

  5. Many people think that they have to give up their social life when they’re broke or trying to save money. Although expensive dinner outings may be out, you’ve provided some nice FREE and low-cost alternatives. Nice post 😉

  6. Love doing the BYOB parties. We usually end up getting together with friends we haven’t seen in a while and drinking way more than we should have.

    • We’ve done wine and grilled cheese parties. We supplied the bread, everyone else brought a chunk of cheese (their pic) and wine if they were drinking.

      Plenty of food for everyone at the cost of only a couple bucks!

      • @Alex — That sounds delicious! I would totally come to one of those!

  7. Excellent ideas! I think keeping to different budgets can often be a source of friction amongst friends. I’ve found that planning to the cheapest budget level is the best strategy for everyone.

  8. Nothing beats outdoor activities when you want to be frugal and still have fun. There are lots of ways to spend a wonderful time outdoor with friends without the need to spend a lot.

    • Summer is a great season for outdoor events. It’s harder in the winter … sledding is only fun for so long. Fortunately, winter is a great time for movies and at-home food!

  9. All great ideas! We do a lot of these too. You can have your social life without breaking the bank. It’s been a while since I’ve been, but used to love going to the minor pro league hockey games. For $5-10, you get to watch the next NHLers for a fraction of the cost, and often better than some of the pro games.

    • @Anthony – You know, I think I remember hearing about baseball tickets that were only $5 (in some terrible seats, I’m sure, but still … ) I’ve never tried that, but that’s also a great frugal idea.


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