How to be a Good Friend on a Budget

Friend On a BudgetWhen you’re a busy parent, or honestly any busy adult, it can be hard to balance the things you need to do with the things you want to do. One of the things that can take a hit as you get busy is your friendships. You want your friends to know you value them, but everyone’s schedule is so hectic it’s hard to schedule getting together.

If you’re living on a tight budget and trying to be more frugal, the few nights out you do get with your friends can become awkward. First, it’s choosing a place to go. You want to suggest something that’s less expensive, but you don’t want to damper anyone else’s evening. Then there are all the expenses that seem to come with going out with friends. For some reason, when you’re laughing, happy, and a little bit tipsy, it can be so much easier to spend money. One more dessert! One more lounge! One more round! It all adds up.

The thing is, it can be extremely awkward to talk about money with your friends. And, since everyone has their own way of approaching their spending habits, you want to be very careful about how you discuss being on a budget. Thankfully, there are a few subtle, polite things you can do that won’t put any of your friendships in jeopardy. And, by following these tips, you can still stay on budget.

Here are a few ideas on how to be a good friend on a budget.

1. Be the Planner

This might be hard if you’re shy, but if you’re the one who initiates the get-togethers with your friends, you get to decide what you want to invite them to do. You can pick the activities that work within your budget, make the plans, and then invite your friends. That’s the thing with friendships. It’s easy to fall into the ‘going out to dinner and then for drinks’ routine, but really, all they want to do is spend time with you.

You could invite your friends over for a dinner at home. Or even send the kids and spouse out for the evening and have an at home spa evening. Evening grabbing a coffee and going for a walk can be fun and different. You have complete creative power over these events. And the best part is, you get to be a great, creative friend, all while sticking to your budget.

2. Check out a Local Artist

Most cities now days have art galleries that offer free nights. And even more open their galleries to the public when presenting a new artist and his or her work. If you and your friends want to do something a little classy, dress up and go visit an art opening. Not only will you get to discuss art and check out the local talent, you’ll also learn more about your friends and their tastes. Plus, many gallery openings offer free drinks and hors d’oeuvres, which cuts back on your food costs.

3. Visit a Museum

Just like art galleries, many museums have days where you can attend for free. And several have events in the evenings when they receive a new collection. This will give you and your friends a chance to learn a little history and see a part of your town that you might not always consider. Plus, a little culture never hurt anyone.

4. Start a Book Club

If you and your friends are all fans of reading, why not read through a book together? You can take turns having everyone over to different houses to drink coffee, tea, munch on biscuits and discuss your book. For those in your group who are more into movies than books, pick a book that has been made into a movie. Once everyone’s done reading, go see the movie together or host a movie night at your home. It’s a great way to bond over something together and you’ll only be paying for a book and movie ticket.

5. Go to a Poetry Reading

Another option for a creative group of friends, you can find several poetry readings at local bookstores. It’s a great opportunity for you and your friends to cozy up on a couch with a hot beverage and listen to the local talent. Sometimes, bookstores will even host authors, so you can hear an excerpt from a book and meet the author. Just be prepared for a few giggles. Amateur poetry nights can be a bit…interesting.

6. See a Play

Many community centers and colleges put on plays for the surrounding communities at no cost or very low costs. For the dramatics in your group, a night out watching your favorite play be reenacted is a great way to spend time together. Just keep your eyes on your local newspapers or community websites. You’re sure to find several options that you can mention to your friends.

7. Be Honest

While it can be difficult to talk about money with your friends, if you find the opportunity or you feel it needs to be mentioned, be honest with your friends and tell them you’re on a budget. Many people try to present their best self to their friends and that sometimes includes hiding financial woes. If you’re open about your own limitations, you might be surprised that your other friends have also been struggling with the same issues.

As you discuss your finances with your friends, make sure it’s clear that you’re not saying it to stop seeing them, but you’ll need to be careful about what you guys do together. Then, if they mention doing something in the future that is out of your budget, just tell them. Not in a hostile or bitter way, just honestly.

8. Say no

This is a hard one, especially for those of us who are social butterflies. However, if you’re serious about staying on a budget, sometimes you’ll have to decline your friends’ offers to hang out. You don’t have to say it in a rude way, just gently let them know that, at the moment, you can’t meet them at that particular place or do that specific activity.

Saying no can seem hard, but if you go out with your friends and do something that’s out of your budget, you’ll be anxious the entire time or regretful afterwards. That will only taint the good times you have with your friends. So say ‘no’ upfront and begin thinking of something to do next time that’s within your budget.

9. Remember the True Meaning of Friendship

If you’re afraid of losing your friends because you can’t do certain things with them or that you’ll offend them by talking about money, it might be time to get back to the basics. Why do you enjoy being with your friends? Is it because you like eating and drinking together? Or is it because you can talk to them for hours and it only feels like it’s been a few minutes? Focus in on what the true meaning of their friendship is for you. Once you get refocused, you’ll soon feel less guilty for not spending as much to go out with them. And, hopefully, they’ll be more willing to do things within your budget.

While it can be difficult to be a friend on a budget, it’s completely possible. You just have to be honest, open, and willing to try and plan new things. Being on a budget and more frugal doesn’t make you a bad friend, it makes you responsible. And you’re friends will respect you for staying true to yourself!

What is the Verdict?

MoneySavingPigHave you got any 'top tips' that you use to save money when you catch up with your friends?  Or do you think you will be putting some of the above into action?  We love feedback so please use the comment section below.

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