Heyo! I wanted to share with you guys this sweet little post that Leif from Five Year FIRE Escape, pitched to me 🙂 I laughed out loud a lot to this piece because I’ve been in these exact situations myself! I’m usually the most dollar-conscious one among friends and it’s always a little expensive when we’re out with a large group. I haven’t found many solutions to this problem…besides holding my breath and going with the flow…but Leif has! I’ll let him take over from here.
Let’s order these seventeen different apps and then also each get a full meal. Oh and how about another round of margaritas! Yes, we’ll split the bill.– Unfrugaled Friends
I like to think that I live within my means without any real sacrifices but my spendy friends and family definitely throw a wrench into my frugal lifestyle.
So over years of trial and error, I developed some special techniques that let me fly under the frugal radar, save lots of money, AND keep all my friends happy! Today, I want to share these with you!
Who am I??
I’m Leif of FiveYearFIREescape.com! I retired about a year ago and my wife Lina retired a few years before I did. Our family is mindful of spending but we don’t budget (blechhh).
We have a big, crazy goal to travel around the world with our family, and most random expenses just don’t compare to it, making saving money really easy for us.
We have two kids and I live in a very expensive city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada (it’s no Bay Area though). Living there makes retirement harder but my family made it with the best side hustle ever (although it’s considered cheating to most people), some impressive saving, simple investing and a lot of real estate.
And that’s essentially the lessons we like to share: Saving. Investing. Living.
Oh, I forgot the best part.
I’m obsessed with doing everything in a time-efficient way. I always felt pressed for time so all of my investments are geared towards minimal time investment, and my blog is a reflection of that. If it takes time, I will bash on it…
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So Back to Troublesome Friends:
It’s not a conspiracy set out against your thrifty goals. Going out for dinner and drinks is the status quo in most social circles.
You tell yourself that you’ll just get a glass of water and something cheap, but somehow you still end up gagging a little when the bill comes.
What went wrong?
Mathematically it is 800x harder to say no to things once your friends are already saying yes.
(True story: I was trying to be frugal and my friends all suddenly wanted bottle service. It was not a cheap night.)
Is it just me or is everything expensive now?!
So perhaps the obvious solution is to just dodge going out altogether. “Nah, I’d rather stay in tonight.“
But pull that trick too many times and you will be declared as lame! The worst of all the things to be!
The truth is, you should be able to have fun. You’re young, and finance isn’t about sitting at home.
And you shouldn’t have to find a whole new group of friends just because you decided to take the plunge into living with some kick-butt personal finance strategies. (Unless you never liked those guys anyway.)
So how do you get the best of both worlds?
Bring Your Friends into Your Goals
I used to have this one friend who had the same money-saving idea, but his excuse was always “No, I can’t afford it.” I mean it got to the point, but it was such a downer.
He eventually turned into a downer himself and basically disappeared.
My wife and I didn’t want to start bumming people out, so we came up with a way more inspiring alternative.
We NEVER say I can’t. We tell our friends about our goals. We get excited. We share pictures. We say why this is a big deal to us and get them onboard with OUR goals.
They’re our friends, after all, they should care. This message is positive, it keeps us in control, and people love it.
By the way, a big tip: share a goal that your friends and family can get excited about with you.
Jumping to saying you want $3,000,000 by the time you’re 40 so you can quit working won’t get much buy-in.
But saying that you’re saving up for a Hawaii vacation (or a house, Beyonce concert, motorcycle, or whatever) will get you some serious street cred.
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3 Go-To Phrases To Stay Frugal
We use this phrase:
Not today. We’re saving up for a wicked ______. How about we get together at our place? We’ll cook a stir-fry!
Let’s break this down.
1. Say no. After you say no, stick to your guns
Don’t succumb to peer pressure. If they’re your friends, they’ll understand. If you give in once, it’ll be that much harder next time. By the way, this doesn’t mean NO forever. We’ll get to this later.
2. Remind your friends of a thing you’re saving up for
It helps if you’ve talked about this before, and don’t spring this up as a last-minute plan change. But it’s up to you.
And don’t fall for the argument that one dinner certainly couldn’t hurt your goals. It’s not about the one dinner, it’s about being in control of how you spend your money. (Besides, like I said, this isn’t a NO forever.)
3. Offer a cheap or free alternative
It could be a hike, a simple coffee, wandering Ikea with no intention to buy anything (be strong!), or dinner at your place. Get creative, there are tons of things you can do for free.
I wish I was as convincing as Rick’s heist bot.
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Prepare To Get Major Respect!
Our go-to phrase is magical in that it’s so casual and easy and yet it demands respect.
First of all, you’re saying no and being strong about it. That’s badass. People love badasses.
Then you’re sharing your goals and everyone respects people with a vision for their life.
“You’re saving up for Argentina? That sucks!”
Can you hear someone saying that?
No, of course not!
It’ll be more like “Wow, you’re amazing! When are you going? I want to do something like that too but I keep going out to expensive dinners!”
Lastly, you’re offering an alternative. Your spendy friends will probably give you a sigh of relief to hear that they can spend ten bucks and bring a bottle of wine instead of fifty at the bar.
Everyone wants to save money, they just haven’t thought about how to get out of these tricky social situations or developed the backbone to follow through.
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So That’s It? No More Outings?
The thing to remember is that you don’t have to say no every single time. And you don’t have to say yes every single time either. The important part is that you made a conscious choice. Your dreams vs today’s outing and you are in control.
I actually love to go out with my friends for beers, take my wife out for dinner, and I even go clubbing sometimes. But here’s how I keep it frugal:
1. Make it an event.
When we do come out, we *assist* our friends in making a big deal about it. It’s like our scarcity is a bonus feature. And we treat it like a special occasion for us as well, not some same-ol’ dinner.
2. Avoid drinks!
I know, I know, but drinks are what really adds up at the end of the night. You can be the DD for the night if you want to avoid the peer pressure, or you can also…
I swear, I’m not some dumb frat jock, but this is the one lesson from college that’s stuck with me. Drinking at a bar is expensive. Drinking at a house is cheap. If you do want to consume copious amounts of alcohol do it at home. Invite everyone and make it a party (don’t drive obviously…do I need to say that??)
We have skipped going out plenty of times because our pre-drinking party got too feisty. It made for a better night anyways
“Alcohol may be man’s worst enemy, but the Bible says love your enemy.” – Frank Sinatra
We Kicked It Up a Notch
Most recently, we used our go-to phrase to minimize gift-giving over Christmas for our family affairs.
For context, we’ve been trying to do this for years – not just for the cost-savings, but because we really don’t need or want extra stuff.
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Nor do we want to rack our brains coming up with fun but useless gadgets to give as gifts. Our family never accepted the gentle nudges about our minimalist ambitions, but this year was different.
We used the magic phrases:
1 – “We’re really focused on planning our upcoming 4-month eurotrip.“
2 – “We realized that it doesn’t make sense to get gifts we won’t use for months AND we really want to save up so that we don’t have to worry about finances while we are away.“
3 – “How about we all just get something small for the kids but no big gift exchange?”
It worked! (To an extent.) I think our family will ‘forget’ next year, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
When you invite your friends and family into your dreams and goals, when you share your why it becomes easier to get everyone onboard with YOUR dream.
What about you, have your friends ever made it hard to stick to your frugal goals and what have you done about it? Tell me below! Or visit me at FiveYearFIREescape.com, Twitter, or Facebook. I’d love to hear your story.
The Thrifty Hustler says
I can relate. Although most of the times, when I offer a cheaper alternative, we always end up not going there. So I end up not meeting my friends over lunch or dinner and instead meet them an hour or two later after meals and have some coffee somewhere else.