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Frugal Friday–Socializing on a Budget

Frugal Friday

For this week’s Frugal Friday, I thought I’d put a few questions out there for response from my dear readers.  I would love to have a conversation about this with other like-minded individuals, but since there aren’t many real like-minded individuals in our social circle, I’m turning to you, my cyber-friends. 

Steady Eddie and I do not have a lot of close friends with whom we socialize regularly, but we are always looking to change this and enlarge our circle of friends.  In the past, when we have had occasion to go out with another couple for dinner, cost has really been no deterrent.  However, since beginning this journey of frugality, we have turned down one invitation from some dear friends to join them for dinner at a fancy, out-of-town, expensive restaurant.  Granted, this family is not on the same journey at all that we are undertaking.  To them, though, it must seem somewhat strange that we joined them last year at this same restaurant, and now, with no real explanation, we decline.  I am all for being hospitable, and in fact, we have both hosted this family in our home and have been guests in theirs.  Sometimes, though, among our acquaintances, nothing beats a dinner out.  We have not sworn off all eating out, but we usually spend our eating out allotment together as a family on family outings, etc.  So, after that ramble, I suppose these are my questions or points for discussion:

  • How do you explain your frugality to others (particularly those who do not share your vision) without seeming miserly or poverty-stricken?
  • How do you make up for your unwillingness to attend expensive functions in terms of socializing? 
  • Is there a way to work these unexpected social outings into an overall budget? 

I’m really not interested in necessarily converting others to our way of thinking, and indeed, I often feel in the minority in our church and general society in terms of being a one-income household, etc.  However, I do believe that we can still maintain some of our living standard (i.e. vacations, day trips, eating out, etc.) through planning.  I’m just not sure how to communicate this well to others.  Let the discussion begin!


7 Responses

  1. Ohhhhh this is a tough one. I’ve been embarrassed a few times, not knowing what to say, and saying something like, “That’s too expensive” or “We can’t afford that” and the other folks try to then PAY for us…not the point! I do hope some others have words of wisdom about this, because I sure don’t! But I know exactly where you’re coming from!

  2. The only thing I can think of is to say you are very sorry you can’t that evening, and perhaps not explain why unless they ask you – but suggest that they come over to your house for dinner the next week. If that happens a few times…they may pick up on it that you don’t want to go out to fancy restaurants. You could even ask them out sometime to a less expensive restaurant and maybe they will get that you prefer that now! If they are really good friends you could always tell them about your new frugal journey and just ask them to help you stick to it!

  3. What a great post. We went through something similar last year when we were getting out of debt. We did not try to convert anyone to our plan, but we did explain to our good friends what we were doing. We tried to come up with less expensive alternatives when we socialized. For example, there was one family that we routinely went out to dinner with, when we started our plan we stopped going out to dinner and did some of the following:
    Met at the beach and had a picnic dinner
    Went to the zoo (we both had annual passes) and had a picnic lunch
    Met at a park
    Found free deals in our area (Brusters Ice Cream has free ice cream for anyone who shows up in their pajamas one day a year)
    Put the kids down or let them watch a movie and the adults
    play games

    When we made our budget we always allocated some money towards going out for those unexpected situations. We did try to suggest cheaper alternatives like Panera, Starbucks, Jason’s Deli. We didn’t have anyone get upset with us over this, in fact most of the responses were something like, “that’s great, I wish we could do that” and a few families even started a debt free plan.
    Hope that helps a little…

  4. […] February 1, 2008 Filed under: Frugal living, My life — happyhousewife @ 9:18 am Hope is the Word has a great post about socializing on a budget. I thought this was one of the harder parts of our […]

  5. I like the previous suggestion of “suggesting” a cheaper place. I was also thinking, that if this dinner is a once a year, annual thing, then maybe there is a trim that could be made elsewhere for the month. I think it would also depend on how the bill is handled. Is it split evenly or does your family pay for only what they eat? Appetizers can be skipped, a dessert and coffee can be made at home (which always seems more cozy for chatting and stuff anyways), water can be drunk instead of soda or other drink. And the other family might not even notice your choices.

  6. I’m all for being up front and letting people in on what we are chosing to do and why we are doing it. I think feelings are less likely to get hurt if you just tell them what’s up. It’s easier to say right up front, that you are cutting back and going out to dinner is one of the areas that you chose to cut out, than it is to explain things later especially, if your friend’s feathers were ruffled because you didn’t go. You can follow up with, “Sorry we can’t join you, but we’d love to see you. How about coming for dinner (& set the date at that point-otherwise it won’t happen).”
    Good luck

  7. […] Hope is the Word has a great post about socializing on a budget. I thought this was one of the harder parts of our Path to Freedom. How did we reconcile our tightwad mentality with our social calendar? The most important thing we did was to be honest with friends and coworkers. This was easier to do with our friends, but I must commend my husband for taking a stand at work. There were a few occasions when he would eat his lunch at his desk and then go out to lunch with his coworkers and just get a water. That way he could still participate in the working lunches, he just didn’t eat. As for our friends, we told everyone we were trying to get out of debt. Not only did it help them to understand our new ways, many friends began to hold us accountable. They knew we weren’t going to spend $50 on one dinner so they didn’t suggest it. We learned creativity in planning our time with friends. Some of the things we started doing more regularly with friends were: […]

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