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How to Save Money Without Sacrificing Your Social Life

How to Save Money Without Sacrificing Your Social Life

It is a tale as old as time; we want to grow up, master the art of adulting and have an impressive bank account that we can turn to for everything from the mortgage to a night out without ever fearing it will be empty. But this is never as realistic of a goal as we hope.

I will never forget the first time I told my mom I wanted to move out after college and get my own place. She was incredibly supportive, but she sat me down and told me I needed to come up with my budget. “Write down what you make versus what you will be spending.”

I thought this would be an easy enough project. After all, my friends would be coming over to see my place, instantly saving me money on eating out and going on expensive adventures. But even with the unrealistic expectation of expenditures, writing down rent/mortgage, electricity and utilities, etc. it quickly became clear that I would have absolutely no money whatsoever. So I was going to have to learn to save before I was able to move out. But how was I supposed to do that? I didn’t want to give up my social life, but I also didn’t want to give up my wallet!

Don’t Panic! Here’s How You Can Keep Your Money and Your Friends.

1. Don’t order an entrée

I always wind up with leftovers when I go out, so this tip helped me save money and stop wasting food! When you go out with friends, choose appetizers or desserts as meals to cut 20-50% off the cost of your outing. This can also be fun if you’re friends do it, too. It makes eating anywhere feel like a tapas restaurant![1]

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Just be aware of the kind of restaurant you’re visiting. While most establishments are happy to take your money, some do have a minimum spending amount and even charge fees for sharing. This info can always be found on a menu or in advance via their website.

2. Drink your own booze

If you plan on going to a bar, drink at home before heading out. If you still want a drink when you get to your destination, opt for only one since bars always up the prices of alcohol. But please don’t drink and drive. This one does take some time to get used to though, as you have to practice a lot of self control. You will be tempted to order more than one drink, especially if you’re at a specialty bar. But remember what your financial goals are when that temptation strikes.

3. Break the Rules

Listen, I’m not trying to get you kicked out of your local movie theatre, but have you seen the prices on popcorn and candy?! Bring your own snacks and buy tickets online from discount sites like Swaybacks or Gift Card Granny. Additionally, some theaters offer reward programs which can add up to discounted tickets.

If you don’t want to get caught bringing in food, opt for a DIY movie night at home with your friends.

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4. Attend a concert for free (as a volunteer)

Almost any event you want to go to will need additional help. Instead of hopping online to their website for a ticket, navigate to the “Volunteers” section of the site or submit a query via the “Contact Us” option. If you need help convincing your friends, remind them that there’s a good chance of meeting the band if you’re helping set up for their show. Sure, you will have to do some manual labor and you’ll probably leave pretty sweaty, but you would’ve been anyway if you were jumping up and down with the band!

5. Shop Secondhand

While this used to be a taboo idea, it’s become a fabulous option in recent years. With stores like ThredUp and Plato’s Closet, you can get cash for your own clothes and then buy other people’s consigned pieces. I’ve found it’s a great way to trade in your out-of-season pieces for trendier options without spending big. Plus it means you have an ever-changing closet which can give the illusion of constant shopping sprees!

Keep in mind that you won’t want to use this option for designer items you have strong feelings for. While it’s a great way to get a little extra spending money, you won’t get what you “think” they’re worth.

6. Keep your closet basic

If you fill your closet with basic pieces (think layering tops and well-tailored jeans), you can have endless outfit options just by switching accessories. If you get caught up with your friends shopping plans, opt for jewelry pieces you want to invest in rather than wardrobe upgrades.

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Recently I went through my closet and separated all of my pieces into outfits. If a couple things could work in numerous ways, I sectioned those items together. This has made shopping easier and cheaper since I don’t inadvertently duplicate items I have, and it’s also helped me speed up my getting-ready-routine in the mornings. Bonus!

7. Stick to a palette

This tip goes hand-in-hand with number 6. If you keep a consistent color palette, you can rest assured knowing all of your items (even new purchases) will coordinate. For instance, pick a color range like black, white and grey and know that you’ll easily pair outfits. Don’t think this means you need to have a cartoon character wardrobe in which you have 7 of the same pants, but just keep it neutral enough that you won’t wind up with that really expensive blouse that requires entirely new pants and shoes.

8. Give thoughtful gifts, not expensive ones

While thoughtful and expensive can sometimes go hand-in-hand, it’s important to stick to gifts your loved ones will cherish rather than fancy gifts they will use once and be done with. I have started shopping for holiday gifts year-round to balance out my budget. This way if I do want to get a couple bigger ticket items, it’s less overwhelming when the holidays arrive.

I like to use this rule of thumb when shopping for others: is it clutter and will they find use for it? I was once gifted a gorgeous crystal picture frame. It was very expensive and lovely, but I had no use for such a nice piece. It became clutter and I ultimately donated it.

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9. Use (discounted) gift cards!

If you plan your outings in advance, often times you can get discounted gift cards that work just like cash from Gift Card Granny or Plastic Jungle. And hey, your friends don’t even have to know you gave the gift card to yourself! Pro-tip: you can also use this as a gift idea for your friends!

10. Create your own social events

If you have a certain skill that your friends always say they’re jealous of, like cooking or decorating, use it to your advantage. Host a day of teaching your friends how to be great at that thing and you won’t have spent a dime! It’s a free way to have a busy social calendar and also be known as the helpful friend.

Like anything in life, saving money is easiest when done with support. Let your friends know what your goals are and ask them to encourage you when you want to make poor spending choices. Looking out for your financial health is nothing to be embarrassed about!

Reference

More by this author

Heather Poole

Technical writer

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Last Updated on October 15, 2018

How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

How to Calm Down When You Are Overwhelmed: 7 Quick Ways to Try

Do you sometimes feel that you add items to your to-do list faster than you tick them off? Do you spend most of your day worrying about your lack of time?

The truth is, no matter how much we love our job, or how productive we believe we are under stress, there comes a moment when the pressure rises above boiling point. The sheer number of urgent tasks multiplies in a geometric progression. New possibilities no longer sound inspiring, they sound overwhelming and equal more work.

If that’s where you are right now – keep reading! If not, it doesn’t mean you should wait until you get there to learn how to cope with a demanding work schedule and how to calm yourself down quickly when you feel overwhelmed.

Here are 7 quick and easy tips on how to calm down when you are overwhelmed:

1. Let go of a few activities

Yes, it’s that easy! Take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself, “If I don’t do it today, will it matter a month from now?”

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Not every urgent task is important. Just like not every important, high pay-off task is urgent. The best way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and to manage your time is to know the difference between the two and learn to simplify your life by getting your to-do list down to three big tasks.

2. Take deep breaths to calm down

This advice sounds so simple it’s often overlooked. But it works better (and faster) than any other relaxation technique out there.

There is a direct connection between our emotional state and breathing. An anxious, frustrated or overwhelmed person breathes as if they have just finished running a marathon. A calm person breathes differently. Their breathing is deep, slow and steady. So when you have a panic attack, the best way to bring your heart rate down and to regain your cool is to change your breathing.

Try this now:

Take a slow, long deep breath in, filling your lungs with air and expanding your diaphragm. Hold your breath for four counts and then slowly release the air through your mouth. Repeat four times and notice frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed dissolve with each long exhale of these calming breaths.

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3. Make “Just one thing” your mantra

When we feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks on our to-do list, it’s easy to enter the ‘deer in the headlights’ state. You see deadlines approaching directly towards you, and you know that something has to be done about them, but you just don’t know where to start.

The best way to get your mind out of an ‘inactivity trance’ is to create momentum. This is what makes the “Just one thing” mantra so powerful. It helps to change our expectation that everything has to be completed right now, “or else.”

Next time you feel overwhelmed make grabbing a cup of coffee your “Just one thing.” You can do it, right? Then come back, pick one of the smallest tasks on your to-do list and tell yourself you’ll do just that one task. This is your next “Just one thing” that you will concentrate on until it’s complete. After that you can move on to the next task and so on.

It’s not “One thing at a time.” Saying this implies that there is a huge line of other tasks waiting to get done and that’s not the message you want to keep repeating to yourself. Learn how to focus here and stop getting overwhelmed.

4. Reduce the multi-tasking and multi-thinking

It’s been proven that multi-tasking is very inefficient, to the point of dumbing us down (more than smoking marijuana does). The same is true for multi-thinking, when your mind frantically jumps from one thought to another, trying to focus on and analyze several things all at once.

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Fortunately, there is help. A few minutes of meditation or brainwave music is all it takes to start feeling more relaxed, more creative and less overwhelmed.

5. Get moving

Any exercise you engage in – be it walking or dancing to your favorite beat – helps to release endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormones, through your body and to clear your mind.

Staying active also increases your productivity, enhances your ability to combat stress and anxiety. It also helps you to release the tension, boosting your mood and changing the thoughts that induce the sense of being overwhelmed.

The best part is you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get the mind-soothing benefits of exercise. Even as little as 15 minutes of dancing or jogging can go a long way towards making you feel better and staying calmer.

6. Change your surroundings

We all need and deserve to take vacations from work woes and family responsibilities. Unfortunately, spending two weeks lazing on a beach, toes in the sand and a Mojito in hand, is not always an option. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t take short ‘vacations’ from work stress and the technology buzz.

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Go outside for a few minutes and enjoy the sunshine. Stop at a park instead of driving straight home from work. Sometimes changing your surroundings and ‘spicing up your routine’ is all it takes to change your perspective on things and find creative solutions to seemingly complex and overwhelming problems.

7. Get some pet therapy

Studies have shown what most of us already guessed – our pets can be a great help during stressful moments. Simple actions such as petting or playing with your dog or cat can lower high blood pressure, boost your immune system and boost your mood.

Besides, pets can make the best conversation partners to share your frustrations with. They listen, they love you unconditionally and they never talk back or say, “I told you so.”

Final thoughts

Don’t wait for stress to hit you to start practicing these quick ways to calm down when you are overwhelmed. The best way to enjoy a worry-free life is not to push yourself to the limit of being overwhelmed and frustrated.

Featured photo credit: Dardan via unsplash.com

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