Whether our time spent catching up with friends involves weekend brunches, after-work drinks, nights out, or all of the above, maintaining a social life can be expensive. In fact, it can sometimes even feel downright impossible to spend time with loved ones without spending at least a little cash.


As a recent college graduate on a tight budget, I’ve experienced firsthand just how difficult it can be to find the perfect balance between having fun with others while also saving for the future. When friends invite me to test out the latest $25 fitness class or new restaurant with them, for example, it can feel as though I have to choose between socializing and sticking to a budget.

The more I’ve sought to reconcile the two, however, the more I’ve learned that finding cheaper alternatives for spending time with friends is in fact both doable and rewarding. Just a few weeks ago, I met up with a friend at the local park and we went rollerblading together. It was such a fun (and free!) experience, and it reminded me that when we strive to honor both our budgets and our friendships, we become more intentional about each. If we start occasionally trading expensive activities for homemade dinners or hikes, for instance, our socializing becomes more about the other person and the time we’re spending together, rather than the event or thing we’re doing together.

… when we strive to honor both our budgets and our friendships, we become more intentional about each.

We’ve all heard countless times that the best things in life are free, but so often we forget. In a culture that emphasizes more, sometimes a tighter budget can remind us to appreciate the simpler things and to cherish what we have rather than stressing over what we don’t.

How has budgeting affected your social life? What compromises or solutions have you found to balance saving money and spending time with friends?

Image via Chelsie Autumn Photography


  1. A few years out of university and having recently started my own business, I find that this subject comes up a lot. I always thought that by now I’d have money to do all the things that I’d like to do and go on all the brunches that would take my fancy. But the truth is that regardless of when your student days were over, finances are going to be a constant part of your life – sometimes you’ll be fine and sometimes you’ll want to bang your head against the wall; you can choose to let them rule your life, or choose to learn to deal with them, budget appropriately and discipline yourself. Always easier said than done but so worth it… Thanks for this article!

  2. Living on a budget has encouraged me to hostess & cook for friends instead of going out to dinner. I’m always amazed at how much more you can get for your money at a grocery store compared to a restaurant! And its so fun to be able to “treat” your friends to a free and home-cooked meal for the less than the price of drinks, entrees, dessert and a tip. 🙂

  3. I found this article to be very timely as I have recently started my own personal challenge of using only $100 per month for 4 months. I’m hoping that this will help me to stop purchasing silly items, or stop going out to eat so much. I also am wanting to assess the fun that I already own or how I can get creative with my time. I’m looking forward to going back to my “grad school days” when I lived on a budget. Here’s to getting my priorities in line and to get my creative juices flowing!

  4. I find that my real friends are always open and understanding when I tell them I don’t have enough money to do something. They in turn will respond the same. We often always make an effort to find activities together that are free or that we can go all in on. True friends won’t judge you for your financial situation.

  5. Living in and around a city, these works are perfectly apt. The impetus to DO as opposed to BE is so strong that finances can so easily seem constrained. The creativity that comes with avant garde outings quickly results in some of the most beautiful memories. Budgeting can, in this case, be synonymous with intentionality.


  6. This problem seems to be more prevelant in my life these days, and you’re right there are so many good free options, you just need to remember them. I feel like I need to take out my crayons and a long sheet of paper and make a list like I used to do when I was a kid. Then I’ll even feel accomplished as I cross things off.

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