There are times when I just sit back and relish just how lucky I am.
14 hour workdays are not one of them, but frugal friends certainly are! I will be the first to admit that I am a fairly private person in real life. I enjoy a handful of close friends that, with my currently busy work schedule, easily fills my need for social interaction by meeting up once every fortnight to once a month or so.
Yup, my life is a veritable roller-coaster of social life. Don’t you know it.
But when we meet, there is no doubt that my friends enjoy frugal solutions and activities as much as we do. If you have frugal friends, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t, maybe you’ll come away with a few ideas to what you could suggest the next time you and your friends hang out!
Do I seem overly grateful for my friends? Perhaps I am, but I don’t think a spot of gratitude, when placed on people you trust, has the potential to do much harm.
I was an odd child. I did not enjoy the screaming-and-running-around games that other children my age did. I preferred to sit atop of trees, often with a book or some sort of crafty project in my hands.
I didn’t have many friends. Most of the children confused me and had enormously different interests. I was rarely bullied, only excluded. Most of the time I did not mind, on account of their preference for screaming-and-running-around games, as mentioned above.
So when I moved for university and for the first, real time found people who gelled with me? With who I shared interests, mannerisms and hobbies with? People who would rather drink tea and work on craft projects on a weekend instead of going out to drink and dance?
I was thrilled. Beyond thrilled. As we speak about so many times in the personal finance sphere: I had found my tribe. Having lived over 20 years of my life without a single close, mutually understanding relationship, I can honestly say it was life changing.
That is why I am so grateful for my friends.
But what do you do with those frugal friends once you’ve found them? Or how do you try to re-calibrate existing friendships to more frugal habits?
An easy activity to start with. We try to have board game nights at least once a month.
Usually, people come straight off work, so sharing a meal is a good way to start the night. Home-cooked, of course.
I think I am becoming more hermit-like every year. I would much rather enjoy a home-cooked meal and the quiet of someone’s house, as opposed to a noisy, crowded restaurant. Plus, we are all foodies, so this works out well for us.
You could also eat before you arrive/host, but the main point for us is spending time together, so we try to get as much of it as we can.
Once fed and happy, we often end up chatting for a bit before actually breaking out the games. The games are just an excuse to socialise after all, but a good one at that.
If you don’t like board games, you could substitute this for inviting someone over for a home-cooked meal and chatting afterwards, or watching a movie. Or crafting if that is more your style, or anything you like. Just move the socialisation from expensive restaurants, cafe’s and movie theatres into the comfort of your own home. Voila, frugalised time with friends.
In older houses around these parts, especially farm houses, all kitchens had a small table.
This was not the dining room table. That was much bigger to seat the entire family and in its own room. No, this was the “neighbour gossip” table.
Imagine you’re a busy farm wife back in the 70s and 80s. Your friend comes over for a chat, but you have a bunch of things you need to do. Do you turn her away? Of course not.
You invite her into your kitchen, give her a cup of coffee (or tea) and something to bite in, and then you carry on with your tasks as the two of you enjoy a friendly chat over things big and small. Occasionally you have time to sit down with her and catch a bite to eat and five minutes of rest as well.
Our hyper-efficient society has lost a lot of these things. We want everything to be so glossy and ready when people arrive. Just like my grandmother who would wash the house before the lady came to help her clean, because what would she think?
There are times when I will drop by a friends house just to hang out. Perhaps she needs to get some groceries for dinner? I’ll tag along and get some fresh air along the way. Cooking supper? Of course I’ll help where I can.
Try as I may, I do my best to make sure I am no strain on their day, that they still gets done what they planned to do. If you’ve never done this sort of thing before, I encourage you to give it a go. Though you might want to talk to your friends about it, if you are uncomfortable being less than picture perfect around each other.
Was there ever a more frugal alternative? Walks can be done anywhere at almost any time.
We are lucky in that we live close to forests and streams, and we do walk just for the sake of walking.
This doubles as learning experiences too, as we’re always curious about the names and origins of other plants we find on our way.
As walk can also be a welcome relief from the cubicle at work. Bring a college and stroll around the block instead of picking up a snack from the vending machine and gossiping in the cafeteria/break room. You might be surprised at how much more refreshed you feel after getting your blood pumping.
This is one of my favourite kinds of frugal socialising. Just drop on by, pop a kettle on, and snuggle yourselves into a couch or armchair with your craft or project of choice.
What I especially like about this is that it doesn’t really matter what you do. Crocheting a new blanket? Knitting a sweater? Darning a pair of socks or embroidering napkins for gifting?
It doesn’t matter. You have something to do with your hands, something I always enjoy when talking and enjoying the company of my friends.
We have even been known to plan whole weekends around this concept. Where we rent a cabin in the woods (splitting the bill, of course) and drive down just to hang out and work on various projects. On Saturdays we’ll share a glorious, home-cooked meal, several hours in the making, and then home again.
If you’ve never done it, it is a fabulous way to reset your system and get away from whatever might be stressing you at work.
When we are financially independent, I aim to have a lot more days like those.
What sort of frugal activities do you enjoy to share with your friends? Hiking mountains? Movie nights? Camping? Book clubs at the library? Gardening? Please share in the comments below!