Spend Time With Friends Shouldn’t Have To Be Expensive

100_4865_3 I think we’ve all felt a little social pressure to spend money. Whether it’s "Hey, let’s grab some drinks after work!" or an weekend ski trip around when your bills are due, there are times when you want to be with your friends but can’t necessarily afford what they are doing. The options are clear: go home and sulk, create something free to do together, or compromise.

Free Event: The Get Stuff Done "Party"
In college, friends and I used to have homework parties, which are along the same line. Everyone would bring their work over to a room and just hang out. Sometimes you’d throw a movie in or have snacks but overall, it was just a way to get things done, have a few conversations, and not spend a dime.

Last night, a friend came over and we had a project night. First, we made a pizza (I always keep pizza dough in the fridge) and put all kinds of nutrious and yummy things on it like beans, veggies and garlic (total cost less than $5). After we took out our respective projects. She made a cork board; I lugged out the sewing machine. Music was played and selzer water was drunk. (Alcohol and sewing don’t mix if you want a straight stitch!) Overall, I fixed eight pieces of clothing and Jessica started and finished her corkboard. We could have gone out for drinks and had really fun conversation to but when it’s a friend, location is not critical for having fun. Plus it’s fun to have a finished product at the end of a social event.

Going With The Flow, But Comprimising
If you aren’t into crafts or homework get-togethers, there are other options to spend time and not money with friends. Another friend and I went out to lunch a few weeks ago but since I couldn’t afford a whole lunch, I just got a soda. What I really wanted to do was see her, not break my dining out budget so I didn’t. And Ashley’s a good enough friend that she didn’t say anything about my lone diet soda order.

When I go shopping, I usually let the other people do the trying on or I try on the most ridiculous thing in the store. Dinner out may mean I get a salad or soup instead of a $15 entree. There are small modifications you can make without seeming like a stick in the mud.

You Can Also Just Be Honest
Whatever the case, being honest about being on a budget shouldn’t hurt your friendships. Telling a friend you’re on a clothing budget or suggesting cooking dinner together to save money isn’t a big deal. If anything, your admission could inspire friends to rein in their spending.

I think if people were more honest with each other, people would probably be in much less debt than they are. It can take guts to admit you can’t keep up with the Joneses but remember, you’re telling this to a friend. And you should have the kind of friend who will love hanging out with you at a five star restaurant or in your kitchen.

Photo: Jessica projects with the best of them.

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