More Money, Less Problems

Keep friends and stay frugal

BY LEIGH NORMAN, STAFF WRITER

Fourth Estate/Billy Ferguson

“Let’s split it evenly!”

Chills go down your spine. You look around the table. One friend ordered an appetizer, drinks and a steak. Another selected the shrimp and dessert. In front of you: the ransacked free bread basket.

But these are your best friends, and you love them. So, you put down your credit card. Sometimes, friends and frugality are incompatible. They may come from a wealthier background, have a larger disposable income or just like to spend. Outings with them always come at a price. To avoid being awkward, you buy something — even if you don’t truly want it. A coffee, a shirt, a ticket. Anything to not sit at the table with nothing. How can you overcome this difference? Today, we’re going over tips to save your wallet and your friendship.

Be Flexible: Suggest more affordable options. You and your friends can still hang out without breaking the bank. Check out a thrift store and try on vintage silks. Find the fun in walking around town or in nature. Cook dinner together at someone’s house. There are plenty of ways to have fun frugally!

Be Selective: Turn down a few hangouts. Say yes to the Walmart run, but skip the Coastal Flats brunch. Try not to reject too many invitations, though. If you start to reject everything, you’re going to have plenty of money, but no friends.

Be Blunt: Tell them what you need. Before you all go to a restaurant, agree to get separate checks. This prevents awkwardness when the check comes out. Even if your friends don’t agree, stay strong. Simply say you’re getting your own check and that’s the end of the conversation. Know the occasion, though. If it’s someone’s birthday and your group always covers the birthday tab, don’t push back. Make these events the exception rather than the rule. 

Be Honest: It may be embarrassing, but necessary. Your friend may not know you’re trying to save money. All they see is you turning them down. You don’t need to give them bank statements, but you do need to explain you’re being frugal. Stress that you want to hang out, just at a lower price point. If they’re a good friend, they’ll understand.

You are more than your wallet. Your friends know this. Fun (and friends) can be frugal.

You’re back at the table. It’s a smaller restaurant this time. You and your friends found it on your last excursion around Old Town. Plates cover the table. Appetizers, entrees, desserts — and the free tortilla chip basket. The bags from the consignment boutique surround your scuffed Reeboks and their new Uggs. The waitress comes by. Since you all agreed to separate checks earlier, there are no chills down your spine as you put down your credit card.