If you’ve started your budgeting journey recently – congratulations! It feels good to know you’re on track to achieving your big financial goals, right? But what happens when you receive that invitation but don’t know how to tell your friends you’re on a budget?
Trust me, I’ve been there and it’s not a great feeling.
Before you share your budgeting journey with friends, you have to start by being honest with yourself:
– Why is it important that you stick to your budget?
– What end result do you hope to gain?
– What are you choosing to sacrifice to make it happen?
When you can answer these questions, you’ll feel more confident when it comes to discussing your budget with those around you. After all, this budget isn’t a bad thing – it’s just a tool that’s helping you get to where you want to be financially. That’s something to be celebrated!
Of course, you probably won’t hit your goals overnight, so it’s important to know how to respond when you’re invited out with friends. To help you do so, I’m sharing some of the strategies I’ve learned (and used) over the years that have made the conversation a little less daunting.
Note: I have a specific “recreation” fund as part of my larger family budget. The recreation fund allows for meet ups with friends, eating out, and other miscellaneous recreation-type activities.
Pay Your Own Way
If you have available funds in your budget for recreation or eating out, then you may choose to pay your own way when you go out with friends. If you and your friends agree to go this route, not only does it take the stress off of who gets the check, but you’ll only have to pay for the things you order. That means that if you only have $10 in your recreation fund, you can choose an appetizer or drink that falls within that price range.
This is a practice I’ve put in place with nearly all of my friends and it’s something that’s allowed us all to stick to our budgets and have fun at the same time.
Note: Splitting the check is not the same as paying your own way. When you split the check, it’s divided down the middle. That means that if your friend has two drinks and an expensive meal and you only have a salad, you’ll probably pay for part of her meal, too. Stick to paying for your own meals and your budget will thank you.
Offer An Alternative
If you receive an invitation your budget can’t accommodate, you might consider offering an alternative.
You might choose to:
– cook at home instead of eating out,
– purchase a bottle of wine from the store rather than the expense of buying it by the glass at a restaurant,
– go on a hike instead of visiting a museum,
…or whatever other activity comes to mind.
By doing so you are still able to build your friendship, while also keeping the budget, too.
Make a Future Plan
There’s something about getting to the end of the month and not having a lot of extra money in the recreation fund. Trust me, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it does mean that sometimes a meet up with a friend might need to wait.
If that’s the case, you can simply say that you’d love to get together and then give a date that works for you – both physically and financially.
I love this strategy because it allows me to stick to my budgeting goals for the month AND I’m also able to plan ahead for that expense as I look at next month’s budget. It takes the stress out of wondering where the money is coming from or potentially disappointing my friends.
That’s a win-win situation for me!
The final approach you can take is to just say no. This is definitely the hardest one, but sometimes it’s the most appropriate.
I remember when we first started budgeting. Of course, we had almost no money at the time to start with, but when people would invite us to do things, even the gas money to get there was a challenge. It felt stupid to say no to events and gatherings for that reason, but in order to keep our budget in place and get out of the hole we’d dug ourselves into – that was exactly what we had to do.
Sometimes saying no is the best choice, even if it feels disappointing in the moment.
Tell Your Friends You’re On a Budget
Navigating life on a budget can be challenging when you’re just getting started, but it’s really important to keep in mind what’s important to you. Of course, your friendships matter, but in my experience, if your friends don’t respect your boundaries and goals – financial or otherwise – then they probably aren’t really your friends at all.
So, take the time to know what’s important to you and then make healthy financial decisions as you spend time with your friends.
Tip: If you need extra help designing a budget that works for you, jump into the Lemon Blessings Membership. You’ll receive all the tools and resources you need to create a budget, as well as an inside look at my meal planning strategies and more. Find it HERE.
Cheering you on!