Friday, November 21, 2008

Balancing Act

It's difficult to balance being a 22-year-old on a budget while trying to sustain a good social life.

Especially being single and living with roommates who would rather spend a night at the bars than a night in watching a movie or having drinks at home.

Especially when most all of my friends earn higher incomes than me... and sometimes significantly more so.

I generally do not spend much money out at the bars (1-2 drinks per night/occasionally buying a drink for a friend) and go out either once per weekend or every other weekend. I let my friends know that I can't afford much and most of the time I will offer to drive in order to save money.

But then there's going out to restaurants, seeing movies, shopping with girlfriends and other fun things that can quickly add up! I allocate $50/month to Entertainment - which encompasses most of the aforementioned activities - and $50/month to Shopping, which usually doesn't get used so it gets saved for when I do purchase clothes/shoes.

I would love to be able to go out to the bars and spend $20-$30 per night drinking with friends, or go to a movie and then a bar, or a restaurant and a movie, et. al., every weekend - but I and my budget just can't do it... Well, I could - but I would have to forgo saving.

It's difficult. I make compromises, I give in at times and I put my foot down at others - but I definitely can't wait to have more disposable income.

How do you balance a budget with your social life?


Distar November 21, 2008 at 11:16 PM  

it is always a balancing act. Even when you are earning more, the bar is raised in terms of places your group of friends will want to go to eat (pricier restaurants) and drink (posher bars/lounges). so the ratio of what you spend on socializing to what you earn is always an issue... Especially NYC where everything is over priced and there is just so many things to do to tempt you ... for me life experiences matter above all, so I guess that is how i justify it. and i suppose being married helps somewhat because some nights it's really just fun to stay home and watch a movie or just drink a bottle of nice wine... i also love socializing at home so i started the trend somewhat btwn friends of doing dinner parties at home... invite 4-6 friends, some nice bottles of wines, some tapas... it's not cheap but when you rotate organizing it's still nicer than always meeting up at a bar/restaurant. and my friends are now catching on and reciprocating the invite. maybe try this strategy?

my point being though that the balancing act is always there.

Fabulously Broke November 22, 2008 at 9:09 AM  

I agree. It doesn't ever stop no matter how much you earn.

The key is to find things you can do on your own that make you happy (for me, it was blogging that helped me not spend as much) and getting those chores around the apartment done, or things that you normally put off

YOu feel so productive after a weekend, it's almost better than going out

Also, if you go out TOO much it doesn't become fun any more (for me anyway). Once in a while is a good limit, same with eating out or going to the movies. I couldn't do that every weekend. Once a month or once every 2 months is my limit. Esp since I travel a lot as a consultant and all I do is eat out :(

sara l November 23, 2008 at 11:13 AM  

Lately I've done a really bad job of this. I've been hanging out at home with my husband and father in law a lot. When I was doing a better job I set aside a certain amount per month and tried to redirect my friends to less expensive places.

In my city we have First Friday Art Walks, where galleries open in the evenings. It's a fun night that's free so I usually try to do that with friends.

Money Maus November 23, 2008 at 11:38 PM  

@distar - You're right, I am sure it will continue to be a balancing act! I like your dinner party idea :)

@FB - I am finding new hobbies! Like cooking and knitting (and blogging)

@sara - I have been trying to get my friends to go to cheaper places so that does help!

Anonymous November 24, 2008 at 3:55 PM  

The balancing act is difficult .... but you are doing SUCH a good job! I wish I had your clarity when I was in my early twenties!

Small Budget, Big Style Chick November 25, 2008 at 11:13 AM  

It is definitely a balancing act. I find that hanging out with friends at home is often more enjoyable and much cheaper than going to bars, clubs and restaurants. But you are doing a great job. I consciously have to force myself to monitor my spending though I make more money than I did when I started working two years ago. It is very easy to spend more as you make more if you aren't careful.

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