One of the first things to go in serious debt elimination or cash saving budgets is entertainment. When you’re used to an active social life, this can become the most challenging part of the whole process. After all, just because you’re on a spending diet (or fast) doesn’t mean your friends are. They are used to you doing things with them—things that, more often than not, cost money—and they aren’t going to stop inviting you to fancy dinners just because you’ve announced your allegiance to Dave Ramsey.
So how do you maintain you’re social life while strapped for cash? Balancing a budget while keeping your social life alive is not only possible, it can be fun. Your budgeting days offer the opportunity to switch up the social routine by adding creative activities to the mix. Here are four hacks to stay social without spending an arm and a leg.
For the Drinkers
Host a beer tasting party. Not as stuffy or expensive as a wine tasting party, and slightly classier than bring-your-own-PBR Scrabble night, a DIY beer tasting party will thrill your social group. Invite beer-loving friends to bring a six-pack of a unique brew and hold blind tastings throughout the night with homemade score cards. Vote on first, second and third place.
For the educational-minded, have participants explain the history and science behind their beers. If you’re lucky, one of your friends will bring something fancy like Guinness’s new Nitro IPA—a smooth, creamy pale ale made with Guinness yeast—and teach you all about nitrogenated beers.
For the Foodies
Throw a recipe swap party. Improve your foodie game, save some cash and hang out with your friends in a fresh way all at the same time. It’s the same idea as a potluck except you choose a theme for the dishes and everyone walks away with a bunch of new recipes. Themes could be anything from appetizers to culturally inspired dishes. Along with their dish, each friend brings a stack of recipe cards to hand out. As the penny-pinching host, your goal is to keep your dish as simple as possible by making something from ingredients you already have, or mostly have, in the house.
For the Fashionistas
Organize a clothing trade. If fashion’s your jam, organize a clothing swap with your chic friends. Send out an Evite a month in advance, being sure to note a precise amount of items each person should bring to ensure quality, fair selections. Depending on how insane your friends are about free clothes, you might need to implement some additional rules such as a lottery system detailing the order in which people “shop” for clothes. This event is a two-birds-one-stone situation: an innovative way to spend time with friends and a fresh new wardrobe—for free.
For Anyone, Anytime:
Propose anything nature-oriented. If you’re worried about telling the whole world that you’re broke—don’t. Simply become the friend who has taken a sudden interest in Mother Nature. Most outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and biking are free or extremely affordable. Even getting together with a friend to walk the dogs through the park or a nature reserve can set the stage for quality time at the best price.