Friday, 22 May 2009

Frugal Friendships

By Frugal Trenches

One of the first things I noticed when I began this downshifting, frugal life was that the vast majority of my friends were fellow professional 20 somethings with big entertainment budgets and in most cases not an ounce of frugality. My first few months on a more frugal budget I found it was very hard to socialize, not because there are not plenty of ways to socialize on a budget, but because my friend's idea of a night or afternoon out was not in my budget. It was quite a lonely experience and made me at times question whether I was on the right path. I then decided that I needed to get more creative, about 6 months on I have a very busy social life, often too busy and while it hasn't come easy with all of my friends I thought I'd share some of the best tips I have for having a good social life while on a budget.

Firstly I began a blog - while most of my fellow 20 something bloggers had bigger entertainment budgets than I did, for example mine is £25 a month compared to many of my 20 something friend bloggers £300-£400 entertainment budget, I did find other bloggers like myself of all ages who I could relate to, who supported me and whom I supported.

Next I looked at ways to incorporate things I love into the budget. I love to read and I wanted to learn to knit. I found out about local book clubs through my library and through those ladies started a knitting club! Now, book clubs if you buy the book can be expensive, the book we are reading this month sells for £13, but I'm pretty happy to use library books meaning the maximum cost for me each month is £1 if I have to order the book from another library in my county. Pretty frugal!

Then I tackled my friends who weren't so frugal. I found out about free activities that were local, I suggested meeting up for walks followed by a coffee out instead of dinner or a movie. I gave activity based gifts to friends so that we could spend time together in something more frugal then a night out. It wasn't always easy, some of my friends who in many ways need to be frugal are most likely to cancel or suggest alternative get togethers when it is something like a walk, or coffee or tea, getting together at a friends house etc. I'm patient, I try to remember everyone is different, I compromise. I wouldn't want my frugality to be a barrier to friendship but certainly use every creative bone in my body to try to find ways to make everyone happy.

Finally I decided one of the best social and frugal activities is volunteering. I have four part time voluntary roles, one requires me to volunteer one evening a week and the other three are once a month roles. In total it works out to about 8 hours a week. Through these roles I've met some great people, had a lot of fun & given back to the community.

It is possible to have a very active and fun social life on a budget. I'm always looking for new ideas so I'd love if you shared some of yours!