How To Keep A Budget Without Losing Your Friends
Budgeting is smart – it empowers you to make better decisions about your money, and ensures you’ve got a decent safety net. Basically, we’re big fans.
But budgeting can have a bad reputation – for some people it brings to mind spreadsheets and penny pinching and being a pain to be around. We’ve all had that friend… and we don’t want to be that friend.
So here are a few things not to do when you’re trying to stick to a tight budget and stick with your friends.
Don’t constantly remind everyone that you’re on a budget
We all have that one friend who is always trialing crazy new diets. Perhaps they’re on some sort of cleanse where they consume nothing but juice for two weeks straight. It’s not the fact that that they’re on the diet (no judging here, you do you), it’s that they like to remind you of this each time they decline your dinner invitation. Kind of annoying, hey?
Well it’s just as annoying constantly hearing about a friends’ budget. Being on a budget is hard, so it can be easy to whine to your friends without realising how often you’re doing it.
But do you know what’s harder than trying to maintain a strict budget? Constantly listening to your friend talk about how hard it is to maintain a strict budget. Do everyone a favour and save the unsolicited budget talk for at home.
Don’t whine that you’re poor or broke
How many times have you heard yourself say “oh, I can’t come I’m just too poor at the moment”, or “I really want to come but I’m so broke”? This can get really irritating to hear, especially if your friends know you’re not actually broke at all. Being on a budget doesn’t mean you’re poor or broke. It means you’re being conscious of what you do with your money, which is not the same thing as having no money.
Earning money and choosing to save some of it is a privilege that people who are truly broke don’t have. So next time you turn down a night on the town because it’s not within your budget, try saying “oh, I better not as I’m trying really hard to save at the moment”, instead.
I’m sure your friends will appreciate your honesty, and you might even inspire them to get crackin’ on their own budget.
Don’t be a leech
This one applies pretty much all the time, not just when you’re on a budget. Just because you’re saving your pennies, doesn’t mean other people should shout you coffees/dinner/flamenco dancers.
It’s OK for your friends to shout you things if it comes back around. But don’t be that person who smoke-bombs from the bar when it’s your round. That’s a really quick way to lose friends (or at least to stop getting invited to Friday-night drinks).
Be proactive when making plans
Don’t sit back and wait for your friends to invite you out, and then complain that you can’t go because it’s not within your budget. Instead, get on the front foot and be extra pro-active about making plans (in a non-stalker kind of way, of course). That way you can suggest things that are cheap and fun, like a picnic in the park or DIY taco night at your place.
Being on a budget means being extra organised, and this goes for your social life, too.
When you do get invited to things, try not to fall into the habit of saying a blanket ‘no’ each time. You don’t need to go cold-turkey on your social life just because you’re on a budget. You can still attend things, it just requires a bit of self-control.
Your colleagues are going for after-work dinner and drinks? No problem, just have a drink out and eat dinner at home later. Your friends want to try that fancy new brunch place? Easy – eat your oats before you leave home and enjoy a coffee with your friends.
You don’t need to say no to everything because of your budget, it’s just about making some changes.
Make counter offers when you can’t attend something
Being on a budget means you’ll need to make sacrifices, and there will be social events you’ll have to miss. And if you don’t find yourself having to decline things now and then, chances are you need to tighten your budget a bit.
When you need to decline a social event with your friends because it’s too expensive, try to immediately follow up with a counter-offer.
Suggest a coffee or a home-cooked dinner at your place the following week, and make sure to lock in a time and place.
Don’t just decline and do the whole “but we should definitely catch up soon” extravaganza, because you both know it won’t happen. You’ll have something to look forward to and your friends will appreciate you making the effort.
Alison is a banking and investment journo by day and freelance writer in her spare time. She enjoys helping others manage their finances instead of dealing with her own.