Sense & Centsibility Blog
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Can’t afford to hang out with your friends? [here’s what you can do]

If you watched the TV sitcom “Friends” back in the day like I did, you might remember an episode where it was Ross’ birthday and the group all pitches in to get a gift, cake and concert tickets. Each friend needed to chip in $62. Ross, Chandler and Monica don’t think twice about it, but they don’t realize that $62 is expensive for Phoebe, Joey and Rachel. At some point in our lives, we all have been or will be in the shoes of the friend who couldn’t afford that $62, because not everyone is in the same financial position. So what do you do if you can't afford to do everything your friends can? Keep reading for some tips.

Financial wellness tips for lower cost/free hangouts

Tell them the truth

Instead of ordering a side salad or eating only the breadsticks for dinner at a fancy restaurant (and then leaving hungry), talk to your friends beforehand. You don’t have to give them all the details of your financial situation. But if they’re truly your friends, you should be able to be honest and let them know that you’re not in a position at the moment to spend a lot of money on dining out, concert tickets, gifts, etc. 

Share your financial goals

Now that you’ve been honest with your friends, share your financial goals with them so that they can support you along the way. Whether it’s saving up for a trip, paying off credit cards or loans, or building up emergency savings, it can help to tell others about what you’re planning to accomplish. That way, you don’t have to feel bad about not going out and spending a bunch of money every time your friends do. Truly supportive friends will find ways to hang out without it being a financial drain on your budget.

Plan cheaper nights out…or in

A night together with friends doesn’t necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg. Instead of meeting them for dinner, eat at home first, then join them after dinner. While you will likely need to spend some money, it won’t be nearly as much if you skip the dinner. Even better, find cheaper things you can do and share the cost. Host a theme night at your place, and make dinner or appetizers and stream a movie. Plan a Sunday fun day at someone’s house/apartment to watch some football. Also, think about your area and what it has to offer. Are there free/low-cost touristy things to do that you’ve never done, such as movie nights in the park, museums or live music? Be creative!

Save up for big events

Sometimes get-togethers with your friends pop up at the last minute. Some of these are bigger events, such as concerts or extended trips, that can be eight or more months in the future, and you have to decide quickly whether to buy concert tickets or make a commitment to travel. Because it’s hard to know when the tickets will go on sale or when someone is going to suggest a trip to Las Vegas, create a savings fund specifically for fun things. That way, you’ll be prepared to buy tickets and won’t have to miss out. However, don’t neglect your emergency savings fund and other important expenses. Be sure financial priorities always come first.

Keep your eyes on the prize 

We might miss out on some fun stuff by prioritizing expenses. But if you’re working on paying off debt, think how good it’s going to feel to be debt-free. Or imagine the relief that you’ll feel by not taking on debt to pay for an emergency. Building emergency savings is crucial to avoiding reliance on credit should your car break down or another unexpected expense pops up. 

With a little communication, creativity and planning, you can still enjoy time with your friends while working on achieving your financial goals.

Contact us for support

Looking for support in creating a realistic budget or achieving your financial goals, such as building up savings, creating a plan for more affordable student loan payments, or paying off credit card and other debt? Our certified, nonjudgmental financial counselors can work with you. Call us at 888.577.2227 to schedule your FREE, confidential appointment, or get your support online.

Elaina Johannessen


Author Elaina Johannessen is a program director with LSS Financial Counseling.