When you’re on a budget or paying off debt, there are certain sacrifices you likely have to make. For me personally this means going out to eat less and being mindful of my spending when I’m with others.
When you’re with your friends it’s easy to spend more, because you want to be agreeable and go with the flow, or maybe even be generous — even if you can’t afford it.
I know I’ve been there. I’ve been in situations where I was invited to dinner at a restaurant that was way out of my price range. Quietly I’m freaking out, scanning the menu, looking for the cheapest item. This is not a fun position to be in.
Not only that, but I tend to spend more with friends because when I’m in the groove of having fun, it’s hard to say no. Another drink? Sure! Want to go somewhere else? Of course!
All of these scenarios with friends, while fun, have made me deeply uncomfortable because they aren’t choices I would make normally. I feel like my budget gets the “friend pass”, but secretly is causing me to commit a cardinal sin. While I think it’s totally worthwhile to spend money with and on friends, I believe there is a way to be the frugal friend without being rude.
From my previous experiences of feeling uncomfortable but learning to speak up, I’ve gleaned some ideas. If you want to be a frugal friend without being rude, here are some tips.
Initiate the Invitation
This one is easy, yet it took me so long to realize that this one powerful switch can change everything. The key to being a frugal friend is to initiate the invitation, with terms that align with your budget.
I tend to invite friends over for dinner at my place, or out for happy hour. I also enjoy going out for walks, hanging in the park, or going for coffee or tea. All friendships are different, but those are my frugal standbys and help show that I want to spend time with my friends, without spending a lot of money.
Be Honest and Upfront
I’ve found that if you’re honest with your friends about your financial situation, they can meet you where you are. It can also serve as a good opportunity to bond over finances and shared goals!
Now, some of my friends aren’t in debt like I am or don’t really care about budgeting. And that’s fine! In no way is being honest about your finances a judgement on theirs. It’s simply a way to set expectations and be clear with your friends what you can and cannot afford.
If you get invited to something that seems out of your price range, you can respond with, “That’s a bit out of my price range right now” or propose something else altogether.
Know When It’s Time to Say No
I learned the hard way that you can’t say yes to everything — and by not saying yes to everything means you have to say no sometimes. “No” is hard to say to friends, especially when you don’t want to hurt their feelings or come across as being rude. But saying no can save your sanity and your budget!
If something doesn’t feel right in your gut, say “No”. If you feel like you will be uncomfortable or regret making a certain decision, the word no is a good bet. Say no graciously and turn around and invite them to do something else at a later date.
Connect with Your Values
Friendship doesn’t have to cost money. I’m the first to admit that I love going out with friends, but what I really love is the hours of conversation. I can do that for a fraction of the cost when I get creative and host a potluck, or invite people over.
I also find going on walks with friends is a great way to stay active and catch up. If you’re feeling strapped for cash because of your friendships, begin to connect with your core values and what friendship really means. True friends are based on so much more than activities, so if you’re feeling strapped, connect on what really matters.
You can be a frugal friend without being rude! Just be sure to set expectations, take initiative, and do what feels right for you.
How do you practice being a frugal friend? How do you set boundaries without being rude?