It can be awkward when our friends want to attend a big event or book reservations at a restaurant we cannot easily afford, and we are unsure of what to do and how to respond. Having to say no can isolate us from social interactions and make us feel bad about ourselves and our finances, so it's important to use money-saving hacks that will allow us to partake in the festivities and not feel such financial pressure.
As a certified health coach, I work with people on alleviating financial burdens by getting their priorities in check, staying organized, and managing their stress, calendar and appointments. While I always recommend speaking with a financial advisor for the greater issues at hand, I do find that together we make great strides towards figuring out how best to save money in other areas so that a social life can be enjoyed with ease. Building and maintaining relationship is essential to wellbeing, and so I always encourage my clients to put in the effort and show their network how much they value their affection and company.
Here are eleven ways to save money and free yourself from financial guilt, while still creating a social life for yourself to boost health and happiness.
1. Take Charge Of Reservations
While you don't want to take over every plan, taking charge every once in a while or simply saying, "I heard XYZ restaurant is supposed to be great! Would anyone want to go?" can help steer the plans in the direction of a cheaper venue. If they pick an expensive restaurant, go with it if it you can, and give thanks to whomever booked the reservation. Say how much you appreciate their putting the event together and that you'd like to help plan the next.
2. Look For Deals & Coupons
Checking out sites like Groupon and Eatdrinkdeals.com can be a great way to save money on food, travel, grooming products, cleaning products, and fitness venues, among others. If you can cut the costs in these other areas of your life, those that don't involve your social circle, you'll be better able to go with the flow with your network's plans.
3. Attend Festivals, Frugally
Your friends might be urging you to buy tickets to music and dining festivals, which are especially abundant in spring and summer. Unfortunately, while these events can be fun, they can also be extremely expensive. Use money-saving tips when at the music festivals to lower the costs during the actual event.
4. Try BYOB Restaurants
While food can be pricey, it's usually the alcohol that can bust a budget. Suggest a BYOB restaurant and have everyone bring wine and beer to share instead. While some restaurants may have a corkage fee, it won't be much, and it will definitely save money from the absence of overly-priced glasses and bottles.
5. Look For Free Events
Live musical performances in the park? Street fairs offering food samples? Check your local area for upcoming free events. Most cities offer calendars that mark their events, and there are plenty of sites and organizations that post free festivities that the public can enjoy. Suggest attending one of these for your next social outing.
6. Shop Wisely
Limiting processed foods and cooking more fresh, whole foods in the kitchen can definitely cut food costs during the week, and such cuts can go towards a greater social life. Buying in bulk from stores, such as Costco and Target, is a great idea, as well as looking at the grains, legumes, nuts and granola sections from speciality stores, such as Whole Foods, to create your own trail mixes, nut blends and dinner sides.
7. Walk More
If you have some time to kill before social plans, take a walk to the venue. Transportation can add up overtime, so use your legs as much as possible in order to save money. If you can't walk there in time (or the distance is impossible to tackle), opt for a train, bus or subway over a taxi or ride service. If using a ride service is the only option, try a shared ride, offered on Uber and lyft, for instance.
8. Invite Friends Over For A Potluck
Instead of going out, suggest a potluck or barbecue (the latter being an excellent option for spring and summer festivities!). These types of parties can be really fun and are a great way to save money. Ask everyone to share a great recipe of theirs or have a contest for who brought the best dessert.
9. Bring Your Own Grooming Products
If you girlfriends want to go out for manicures and pedicures, bring your own color and ask for a "change of polish." Usually the cost will be cheaper then! If you don't have your own polish, skipping the mani and getting a quick change can still make a considerable difference in the cost.
10. Share Meals
When out with friends, either for lunch, drinks and apps or dinner, go "tapas" style and share dishes to cut down on costs. Often an entree is over-sized anyway, so by splitting one with a friend, along with an appetizer and side, you'll probably be able to save a few extra bucks. Plus, tapas is a great way to try smaller portions of different flavors!
11. Have A Drink Before Dinner
Inviting friends over for a drink before dinner will probably decrease the amount of drinks ordered at mealtime. Often a bottle of wine can cost the same, or even less, than a single glass at a restaurant, so by offering a drink beforehand, you can save major cash. Furthermore, drinking in a relaxed atmosphere before dinner is a great way to set the mood for what's yet to come.
By sticking with a budget, allocating a certain amount of money for social engagements, staying organized, and cutting costs in other areas, you'll be able to hang out with your friends, co-workers and family members without financial strains. If it becomes too tough, it's okay to back out every so often, but don't make it a habit. A tight social network does wonders for health and happiness!
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