Cutting Your Socializing Budget Without Cutting Out Your Friends
We all have those friends who always want to go dining out at the latest and greatest. They either are quite wealthy or just love spending money. These friends come in 2 flavors, those who are willing to compromise and those who are set in their ways.
I have one couple-friend who are actually quite frugal but spend lavishly on dining out. They just don’t do it too often so it makes sense for them. When I wanna see them it always ends up being somewhere expensive, because it’s the one time that month they are wanting to try a new fancy place.
Well, they may not realize that I have already gone out with a few friends and done a few fancy dinners that month and I don’t care to spend any more. They usually aren’t understanding of that despite being good friends. If I were to just order a small appetizer and no alcohol they would have a melt-down. I know, I’ve tried.
Herd mentality and higher spending. I have found that the larger the group gets and the more professionals in the group the more expensive the bill and the fancier the dining location. It’s this understated drive to come across as though they don’t care about money.
How I Overcome It
Usually I try to meet the pricey friends over coffee, usually 1:1 and pick the location myself. It’s not that I’m cheap but going for drinks at Hotel Bel-Air is a very expensive ordeal.
I usually will pick the place and time if I can be so forward. Happy hour is always smart. Or if I’m cornered about going somewhere fancy I will order off the menu, “A shot of tequila please.”
If I have to meet with a large group I will either take cash as to not spend more than I planned or I will meet them after dinner for drinks or dessert.
Thankfully being vegan makes it easy, most of the vegan dishes on the menu have price-tags proportional to flavor. Maybe you suddenly became Jewish and only eat kosher or perhaps you couldn’t find something halal on that infidelic menu.
How To Not Over-Do It
I have a friend who is excessively frugal. He has always been this way and his parents were even more so. The problem is that he has let this habit spill over onto his social life and I don’t see it as being healthy. He is bordering on being cheap.
There is nothing wrong with spending in order to socialize, let me give you my reasoning as to why. When you hang out with friends you are getting a new perspective on your life for free, that’s the benefit of having friends. They help you learn new things and they can become an amazing support structure if you give them the chance to be so.
The first few interactions with some friends can get costly, sure. Especially if these friends are professionals or are well off then it’s common for them to be on the spendy side. But good friends will take your preferences into consideration as well.
You can suggest to meet somewhere inexpensive or hang out at a park, go for a hike, take a stroll through a downtown with a couple of coffees in hand.
Definitely Don’t Be Cheap
There are plenty of dumb-asses who might call you cheap when you’re just being frugal. I have been called cheap before because I don’t own a car and I’ve been called cheap because I didn’t want to pay for a morning coffee rather than bringing my own to work.
Cheap is when you sacrifice a worthwhile experience in order to save money. It’s when you choose money over friends, family, satisfaction and proper custom. Taking your own food to a restaurant is not only unfair to the business owner but it also seals your fate as someone who can’t cut it in the real world unless they cut every corner.
Trying to buy a shitty car just because the price was low will leave you with a massive headache. Buying inexpensive clothing which have been mass-produced with dangerous chemicals might save you $10 now but will cost you thousands of dollars in health care costs later in life.
Even buying a house that’s cheaper might be a bad idea. Sure, you saved $200k but now you added 1 hour to your commute, ensured having to rely on your car to get to a grocery store and because of shadier neighbors you no longer feel a sense of security in your neighborhood.
Cheap vs. Frugal
Over the years I have come across a lot of clever ways to differentiate between these 2 adjectives. The one quote I really liked was by JP Lynn:
Frugality is getting more for less. Cheap is getting less for less.
I also came across this flow diagram made by Kerry Taylor at SquawkFox. which clicked with me.
When someone is cheap it’s quite obvious because the first thing that one usually notices about them is that they don’t care much about others. Cheap people often don’t have a lot of friends because they have repeatedly chosen a buck over interacting with others.
It’s important to be able to connect with others and despite how spendy the average American is, the human mind connects with another over shared experiences. You will be ostracised if you care more about money than positive human interactions. And you will go broke if you spend in order to achieve happiness.
Is Spending On Luxury Still Viable?
It’s no longer a viable option to spend for the sake of increased comfort. We no longer live in a world where money is backed by gold, where pensions are guaranteed, where foreign policy is fair and politicians have accountability.
Though many think of our country as the leader in the world we are losing that position by all measures except appearance.
In such a fragile system I think it’s very important to structure my own stability. In order to do so I feel the need to be frugal. I can still spend and live a comfortable life but a decent portion of my income needs to go to building my own infrastructure in hopes that the US will turn around its business model and prevent full bankruptcy.