This is a special post from John from My Family Finances and is part of the Yakezie blog swap. This week, we are all discussing the topic: How to Save Money without Giving up Your Social Life. You can read my post on the same topic at John’s blog.
There are plenty of things that will end your social life. Bad breath, body odor and hitting the clubs in a Storm Trooper uniform come to mind. Saving money and watching your budget should not be on the list. This is a post for all those that have drained their bank account hanging out with friends or those that have taken down their Facebook page to save a dime.
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why your social activities seem to be in direct conflict with your finances? Why does a simple round of golf with a cart, a few beers at the clubhouse, a hot dog and the $10 you lost on a bet while putting on the 18th hole drain your wallet? Social activities are the perfect storm for overspending. We feel that having a good time means putting the budget aside for one night every week. Since that’s most people’s outlook, it’s hard to be the one person in your social circle adding up the receipts as they go.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Having a good time can be accomplished without spending great wads of cash. It’s all a matter of understanding how fun and your wallet can co-exist at the same time.
Herd Mentality Will Take Your Finances Over a Cliff
Do you know what herd mentality is? It’s how a group of sheep will blindly follow a single leader off of a cliff. There is a tendency for a group of people to spend as much as the biggest spender. It’s only natural to spend big when everyone else is spending big, but dropping $20’s like they were confetti is rarely demanded by your friends at social outings.
Take control over your personal spending. Set a budget ahead of time to keep from falling into the herd mentality. Seek ways of spending less when hanging out. Maybe it means buying the special when ordering drinks. It could mean ordering soup at dinner instead of the all-you-can-eat shrimp. You should participate, but you don’t need to spend as much as the biggest spender.
It’s common for groups to go along with the person who has the strongest opinion on the social agenda. For some reason it tends to be the guy with the biggest hole in his wallet. It’s ok to offer alternative suggestions to expensive activities. This doesn’t mean ditching your friends on a night out, but you might be surprised how many people in a group might prefer a cheaper option should anyone be willing to offer it.
Work with your friends to set plans ahead of time. It gives you the opportunity to plan your spending. It could mean the opportunity at grabbing a coupon, groupon or filling up on snacks ahead of a trip to the restaurant. The more you know about what you are doing, the more chance you have to save before heading out for the night.
Don’t Spoil It!
Managing your money isn’t about being cheap. It’s about making smart decisions through responsible planning. Once you get into penny pinching, it’s easy to start substituting frugality as an alternative to a social life. However, your friends are not a line item on your budget to be minimized. That’s one certain way to drain the fun and friendship out of your life.
Instead, make your social life a disciplined financial priority. That may mean cutting something else so that you splurge when hanging out. That’s ok. What’s the point of managing money if you aren’t going to spend it on the things you want to do?
You may be spending more than you’d like on a social life, but that’s not a problem so long as it’s part of your financial planning. Conversely, spending doesn’t always equal fun, but some events can’t be replicated without the use of money.
Commit to having a good time, but don’t empty your wallet when you step out the door either.
Image by hammershaug / flickr