If you are anything like me you spend 100 % of your discretionary income aaaand then some (hello trusty credit card) on food and alcohol. Life is meant to be tasted, to be drunk to the very last drop, to be partied up until you are the last one there and the host is tapping their foot and looking at their watch. Meeting friends, going for post-work drinks with colleagues, celebrating birthdays and other milestones with family-there is always a reason to eat, drink and be merry.
The trouble is that social outings are extremely expensive. And for someone with an ambitious-or according to that negative guy in my head absolutely bonkers– plan to save $25,000 in one year, this social status quo is not sustainable.
Now wouldn’t it be nice if I could just morph into an antisocial robot for a full year? Saying no to all social outings, denying myself any fun and just watching that cash pile up in the bank account-perfect!
The problem with going cold turkey is that sooner or later you will lose your mind. In my mind this is similar to going on a diet. By completely denying yourself those fatty foods for so long, one fine day you will inevitably break down and binge eat double whoopers while crying your eyes out. Yeah I tried dieting once. I lasted two days until I reached for the yam fries and cream ale.
So what is the solution? How to balance having fun and keeping those social contacts alive while saving aggressively?
A couple of things have helped me this far…
In my early 20s I had a serious case of FOMO. I would go to any and every social outing even with the most random contacts or to the most dodgy neighbourhoods. More often than not these outings would involve heavy drinking.
Slowly but surely I passed the 25 year mark and became more picky…
Awesome bands that I had been wanting to see for a while? Check!
An evening with a dear friend discussing love, politics and everything in between? Check!
Random Wednesday out at a club pounding back tequila? Nahh.
Be selective. You don’t need to go to every social outing (there will be more I promise) and contrary to popular early 20s dogma it is OK to stay in on a Friday. Your liver will thank you and so will your wallet.
Suggest cheap alternatives
The default social outing is usually dinner and drinks- a very expensive pastime anywhere in the world and one bordering on bankruptcy in my current home base Stockholm. One way to get around this is to suggest meeting for coffee (again the liver will give thanks) or brunch.
Another way is to be on the up and up with free things to do in your city. There are usually a ton of options, some are actually loads of fun and may get you out of your comfort zone for some new experiences! You can even take the initiative to pack a picnic with yummy tapas, drinks and a blanket. Picnics work like a charm in the summer, in winter months this may be trickier but not impossible (picnic at indoor public spaces such as museums). That way you can enjoy your event and some bonding over food without breaking the bank.
While going out to drink and dance can seem tempting after surviving another week on the hamster wheel, keep in mind you can also do this at home. Remember those house parties that happened just before you were legally allowed into bars? They really were the best of times. So kick it old school by hosting a house party. I guarantee you will have loads of fun and wont miss a minute of the club scene.
For a more relaxed evening at home, potlucks are an enjoyable and collaborative social event. Add a theme to your potluck to make it more interesting; food in a specific colour, dishes from your culture, the 100 mile diet- let your imagination run wild!
Be a little pushy
Sometimes we are just sheep in the herd who cannot for the life of us make up our minds about where to eat nor what to do- so be the shepherd! Suggest fun, quirky and unique social activities that are cheap or free. You will soon become a tour guide for the frugal life and your friends will thank you for it.
There may be times you feel bored or restless when you are busy saving for your wandering life.
Learning how to navigate boredom without giving in to temporary hedonistic fixes will stimulate your growth as an individual. It will open up space for you to develop aspects of your personality you may not previously have spent time on. And remember, beer always tastes better when enjoyed on a Peruvian beach, atop a mountain in South Africa, ___________________________ (insert dream destination here).
Allowing yourself to sit in solitude can bring up some uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. If you feel strong enough I encourage you to sit with them, meditate on them and then set them free. Of course there are professionals to turn to when things become too much to handle on your own.
For the first few months of boredom I felt like I was on the edge of a precipice-just one step away from a plunge into depression. While difficult, I am eternally grateful for the chance to meditate on my life and shortcomings. Without this time of boredom and solitude I would have never realized that I was living a life filled with fear of the unknown, pressure to conform and succeed according to societal norms, and seething with negativity and regrets (more on the emotional side of a big life change in a later post…). Without this time of contemplation I would have never dared to embark on a new, less wandered path.
How do you balance your social life with saving for your dream life? I would love to hear what has worked for you, comment below!