Befriend Your Budget: Stick to your budget without sticking it to your social life
As the single one of my friend group, I know how hard it can be living the #strongindependentwoman lifestyle while all of my friends are living it up as double-income households. Relationship status aside, it can be tough managing your social life when you’re on a budget. Even if you make good money, you may have it earmarked for other financial goals, such as knocking out those pesky student loans or saving for a big vacation and don’t want to blow it on social activities. So, how do you balance your budget without becoming a hermit and alienating your friends? Fear not, we’ve got a few tips to help you out.
Be the first to suggest an activity, not the last.
It’s common to fall back on the norm of dining out at restaurants when it seems like there’s nothing else to do. If you take it upon yourself to suggest alternatives, you can decide on an activity that fits your budget. Living in a city like Atlanta, there’s always something going on that’s either cheap or free, so don’t be afraid to try something new. Once you offer up a few new and fun ideas, you’ll become the go-to planner for your squad, and you won’t feel as much pressure to overspend.
Get comfortable with saying “no.”
You don’t have to decline every invite, but you should get used to saying “no” when an outing is out of your budget, such as a weekend-long music festival or a spur-of-the-moment road trip. You don’t always have to say “no” outright; offer up a more wallet-friendly alternative if you can. If you do have to pass on an outing with friends, be honest about why you can’t make it – true friends will be understanding about your financial situation.
Focus on your long-term goals.
Paying off your student loans, buying a house, or saving for retirement might not be as glamorous or fun as backpacking through Europe with your friends, but that doesn’t make it any less important. How much does the cost of eating out with your friends every week set you back in terms of reaching your larger goals? Sure, 50 bucks here or there may not seem like a big deal at the moment, but your small “splurges” add up over time. We’ve all heard the example that a $5 cup of coffee at work each day will cost you $100 a month – the same concept applies when spending money just to hang out with your friends. Think about where those dollars could be better put to use and focus on that to keep your #FOMO in check.