Socializing on a Budget

Earlier this week, I setup a Formspring account for both of my blogs and, while I have only received one question so far, it’s one I have promised to answer before…

How do you retain your social life/stay sane from you hardcore budgeting? I have student loans and try to put money in savings every pay check, but it’s not always what I wish I put away. How do you stay frugal and social?

First of all, you should know that, while yes, I hang out with my friends a lot, I don’t do a lot of the typical social things that some twenty-something’s do. I don’t go out for dinner or drinks and it’s rare that I even go to a movie. Instead, I go for coffee or a drive to the beach, and more recently, my friends and I have started going for walks, runs, and hikes together.

But something I have been doing with my friends for years is watching our favourite shows together. For example, one of my girlfriend’s and I love the show Supernatural. (I know, we are dorks… but the guys are hot!) Every Friday night, she comes over to watch a new episode. Sometimes we’ll split a $10 bottle of wine, and sometimes I just make tea, but we always end up chatting for a couple hours, as well as watching the show. To me, that’s a great Friday night.

During the summer, I have a reason to socialize with my Big Brother friends up to 3x/week! But we always get together on Thursday’s (eviction night) to watch, catch up, gossip, etc. Again, sometimes we’ll have a few drinks, other times we’ll just split a bag of candy… (I know, bad!) I used to have Bachelor/ette Monday’s with another girlfriend, and Hills nights back when it was on… it sounds silly to say that I plan my social life around television but, the fact is, we all watch the shows, so why wouldn’t we watch them together?

The other thing my friends and I do is get together for a couple BBQ’s each month where we all bring whatever we want to eat/drink. We don’t make the hosts supply anything (except maybe ketchup/mustard ) and some of us drink and some of us don’t. If it’s nice out, we’ll setup a volleyball net, and rain or shine, we are lucky that the hosts have a hottub. Again, if I can say I spent my Saturday night eating dinner and hottubbing with friends, I’ve got nothing to complain about.

Do you remember how I got into debt? I was living a lifestyle I couldn’t afford. I went out for dinner and/or drinks 1-2 times/week and basically just pretended that my credit cards were cash. If you read my blog before, you might remember that my weekly spending reports included anywhere from $40-120/week on take-out/alcohol. I can’t afford that! At least not if I want to pay off my debt… now, you might see me buy pizza ($15) once/month and, if I drink, I opt for a $10 bottle of white wine. I don’t restrict myself from all fun! But I just enjoy different things now.

When I was completely maxed out, something finally switched in my brain. I don’t feel bad telling friends I can’t afford a night out and, honestly, I don’t feel like I’m missing out by not going. I’ve done my fair share of partying… what’s important now is spending quality time with my friends and family, watching my friends’ kids grow up, and just enjoying every day that I have.

Hope that answers your question.