The Joys of Frugal Friends!

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!

My history of friendships

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?

Board game night

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.

Share chores

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.

Go for a walk/foraging

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.

But if we can, why not combine it with other activities? Picking spruce shoots in spring, meadowsweet flowers, or picking various fruits and berries for preserving.

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.

Tea and crafts

Roar enjoys a quiet night of crocheting

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.

Over to you

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!

8 Comments on “The Joys of Frugal Friends!

  1. Some of my favorite activities are going for picnics, hiking and having an afternoon bake/cooking exchange with a friend. The last one is especially nice on a winter afternoon.

    I don’t enjoy dancing at clubs but I discovered swing dancing (lindy hop, charleston and blues). It’s mostly active dancing, little drink and super fun. Also, it can be as frugal or expensive as you want.

    The spruce syrup sounds delicious! I’ll have to look that up for a spring project this year!

    • Those are some great suggestions! I really like that kind of dancing. Mr. E. and I have been talking about taking classes, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

      Spruce shoot syrup is amazing! I didn’t understand syrup on pancakes until I tasted it, so good!

  2. I love the idea of a getaway weekend to work on craft projects…or catch up on reading perhaps!

    My friends and I do most of the things on your list. We also sometimes do volunteer projects in the area – for example, there’s a woman’s shelter nearby that needs volunteers to staff its kitchen for meals. A group of people (6 or more) can sign up together and we do this every couple of months. Aside from the obvious reasons for volunteering, I find that working together in the kitchen is also a fun bonding activity.

    Since you were speaking of old-fashioned socializing, I’ll mention one of my favourite things, which is to trade labour and skills to help each other out on projects. I used to farm full-time, and one of my best friends is a former farming coworker, so both of us are good with outdoor/horticulture work and enjoy physical labour. This spring/summer I have a plan to put in some flowers and garden boxes around my house, and my friend has gleefully jumped on board the project. Obviously I have to be careful not to impose too much on him, but for us it’s legitimately fun to go over to someone’s house and muck around in the garden for an afternoon. When he needs help, I’m there to do the same. My grandmother talks a lot about this sort of thing happening when she was a kid – everyone counted on your neighbours and friends to help with big projects, and things like a big harvest day or a building project would be turned into a picnic or a festival, and do double duty as a social event.

    Other fun frugal things we’ve done include writing groups (where you get together and everyone writes their own projects, and shares what they’re working on if they choose, and sometimes we do little exercises like writing prompts), sports in local parks (frisbee works with as few as two people and is fun and easy), and free concerts, which are common in our area in the summer.

    • That sounds pretty awesome! I agree that working in a kitchen together can be a fun bonding activity. Especially when there is a good kitchen dynamic.

      I have a friend who grew up on a farm, and her stories are fantastic. It’s a ton of hard work, but you become such a jack of all trades. I almost forgot the trading labour and skills. We do it, but not very often. Perhaps once every other month recently. Gardening is so much more enjoyable when you’re doing it with a friend or two. At least it helps me overcome the couch potato syndrome. I can’t wait until we have our own house with a large garden to play with!

      It sounds like you’ve got the frugal activities down pat! We’re still developing ours. I think I’ll have to try to find a frisbee again! 🙂

  3. Sharing farm chores! The idea of having that kind of close knit community has always seriously appealed to me, which is probably why I’ve focused so much on creating it within our neighborhood, and it has been so great. As far as going out to noisy spots, ever since I went half deaf in one ear a year ago, it is so hard to hear people in loud restaurants and bars, so it’s really helped me like them less and less. And my favorite is always hosting parties in my house, but that’s never changed 🙂

    • You and me both! I can’t wait for us to find that forever home closer to nature.

      Every time I visit a restaurant, especially a crowded/noisy one, I just find I like it less and less. So much more enjoyable to host or be hosted in the quiet and spaciousness of someone else’s home with couches nearby and no bathroom queue!

  4. I love this! One of my favourite frugal activities is going hiking in a beautiful place. Honestly it’s mostly an activity my partner and I do alone because most of my friends are less fond of sweating, but occasionally I’ll meet up with someone who loves to spot the birds and lizards as we climb a mountain! <3

    • I agree, hiking is a great way to get fresh air, glorious views and nary a penny spent! Always well worth the effort! 😀

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