Today, I’d like to start a new series on the blog! One that highlights easy strategies for BALLIN’ ON A BUDGET. Each month, I’m going to propose something for all of us to ditch in order to free up some line items on our budgets with values that can go to more practical expenditures like paying down on debt and saving for special occasions. Whether you’re actively pinching pennies or simply want to re-direct some of those pennies to better serve you, this series is for you! So, let’s get started…
We all have a few of those friends who spend to their heart’s content and, whether deliberately or not, encourage us to do the same. One major elimination you can make in your journey towards getting financially fit is to ditch the constantly “makin’ it rain” friends. Now I know this sounds harsh but it doesn’t mean you have to cut all friendships out of your life or that you have to forego a social life. It just means you need to examine your “little black book” with a fine tooth comb. Identify those social connections who are contagiously bad with money. Whether their expendable income is from their parent’s pocket book or their own doesn’t matter. Reflect on the last few times you socialized with them. Did it involve driving long distances or splitting expensive cab fare? Were you found in the midst of a never-ending rotation of buying rounds of cocktails made with top-shelf liquor? Check out your bank statement from the night. How much did that dinner bill ACTUALLY come to? Now, consider whether you can flip this friendship on it’s head, financially speaking, OR if you need to cut them out completely.
After analyzing your friendships and their corresponding relationship to your finances, what’s next? Here are four easy steps you can take over the next four weeks to help you take financial control of your social life…
Week 1. Make a list of everything you enjoy doing or would like to try that costs little to no money. Don’t worry if the list is super long…I’ll wait…..get it all down! Now, keep this list handy as a reference when looking for social outings or activities with friends, family, and neighbors. When choosing to meet up with a friend it can be easy to default to costly adventures, like dinner and drinks or catching a flick at a movie theater, that are seriously lacking in creativity. Most would gladly exchange these go-to’s for a free concert on the square or a game of scrabble at your kitchen table…you just have to be brave enough to make the suggestion. Establishing your list is the first step!
Week 2. Choose to have “the money” conversation. Conversing about money is a taboo. But shying away from the topic can hinder the ability to have realistic discussions with the folks who would gladly get in your corner and help you achieve your goals. Now, I certainly think these conversations have a time and a place. I don’t think you should be having them with any Joe Shmoe and I don’t think you should shout intimate financial details from the rooftops like how much you earn or how much debt you’re working on paying off. But I DO think there’s extreme value in speaking your goals out loud. Why are you trying to live your life with a ballin’ on a budget mindset? Is it to pay off your student loans? Is it to finally take that trip to Paris? Is it to save enough to establish an emergency fund? This week, tell a close friend your current short-term financial goal. At the least, you’ll have someone who understands why you don’t want to run around town makin’ it rain anymore. At the most, you’ll have someone to hold you accountable. And you never know, maybe they’re working towards a similar goal! You’ll never know unless you share.
Week 3. Commit to a recurring ritual with a friend or friends. If socializing is of importance to you but you’re also actively watching your wallet, it helps to think ahead. In my experience, the EASIEST way to do this is set up a ritual on YOUR terms. It can be so tempting to fit in a catch-up with a friend over a restaurant meal or a night out at a bar but if you carve out time for them in other ways, you’ll find the need for these money-draining experiences diminishes. This step is completely adaptable based on how much time you have available and your preferences. The important thing is figuring out what’s going to bring you and your friends happiness with out spending a ton of money. This is the week to figure it out and lock them in! Your ritual can be as simple as gathering a few pals one night a week to watch a movie or as elaborate as planning a monthly pot-luck picnic at the local park (complete with field games!). Maybe you and a pal want to be running buddies on Tuesday and Thursday mornings? Maybe you extend an open invitation for anyone to stop by your house for Mario Kart on Saturday afternoons? Maybe you gather your best and brightest lady-friends once a month to talk about a book or knit or practice French. You don’t need to lay down a bunch of cash to bring joy to your life and make lasting memories with your friends.
Week 4. Say no! While it’s awesome to be armed with an arsenal of low-cost socializing ideas, there are still times when we just CAN’T be in control. You’ll no doubt still receive invitations for more expensive outings and events. So, start strategizing your action plan. How can you turn down these opportunities with grace? Now, I get it. FOMO (fear of missing out) starts to creep in. You get the feeling that if you say “no” one itty-bitty, little time you’ll never get asked to do anything EVER again!!! I think the best way to combat this is with honesty. Tell whomever extended the invite what circumstances are causing you to pass on this particular opportunity. Would you have to pay for a sitter? Do you have a looming deadline? Did you just move making money a little tight for the month? Let them know. And then find a way to let them know you still value your friendship–whether that be inviting them to the next occurrence of your recurring ritual (see above!) or sending a card or scheduling a phone date to hear all about what happened during the event you couldn’t attend. For this final week, your mantra is, “I can’t do it all. I can’t pay for it all. And that’s OK.”
Week 1 –
Week 2 –
Week 3 –
Week 4 –
Do you have your own tips or resources for taking financial control of your social life? Is this an area of your “spending diet” that you struggle with? Do you think following these weekly steps could help? Let’s chat in the comments below!
And tune in next month when we tackle THE COFFEE SHOP HABIT!