Author Topic: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?  (Read 6085 times)

snareman1

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How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« on: April 16, 2014, 01:43:54 AM »
HI Everyone. This is my first post. I have been a Mustachian for the past 4 weeks.

The biggest thing I'm noticing with changing my spending and saving habits, is that my previous way of socialization has been threatened. I find myself being invited to go out for drinks with people. I asked a woman out last week and now am having thoughts like "I don't wanna take her out and pay for her drinks and food, let alone my own. F*ck that.". I'm noticing a potential for social isolation.

SO, that has me think of creating community at home and perhaps inviting people over for potlucks and such.

What have you done? Any, ideas or thoughts on how to remain or even INCREASE sociability while not increasing expenses would be appreciated.

Thank you for your Badassity!

wtjbatman

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2014, 02:25:24 AM »
I've found a combination of reduced spending when going out to a place like a bar or restaurant, or being the one to suggest activities that are cheap or free.

As an example, going out for drinks. I used to go out for drinks and have several cocktails with friends. $20+ later and I'm regretting it the next morning in more ways than just my pocket book. Now I limit myself and drink what's "cheap". Get a couple beers on tap, and drink a glass of water in between. You still get to enjoy all the social aspects of going out, but you're not necessarily spending more than you're comfortable with. And skip the shots.

If you're asking a woman out, I wouldn't suggest asking her to go back to your place for a "pot luck" ;) On the first date with my current girlfriend, we met over drinks (not too expensive), realized we clicked, then went for a walk in a local park and got to enjoy each other's company without spending much money at all. We've now been together a year and a half.

snareman1

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2014, 04:47:12 AM »

If you're asking a woman out, I wouldn't suggest asking her to go back to your place for a "pot luck" ;) On the first date with my current girlfriend, we met over drinks (not too expensive), realized we clicked, then went for a walk in a local park and got to enjoy each other's company without spending much money at all. We've now been together a year and a half.
Good call. Thanks for that!

Gray Matter

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2014, 05:26:20 AM »
I had this same experience with Mustachianism (not the dating part--I've been married 20 years, but the isolation.)  I am a very social person and I really like to grab lunch with people, go for drinks, etc.  So here are a few things I do/tried:

  • Asking people to my house instead.  But that added a lot of stress (I have three kids and three dogs, house is not always "drop-in" ready, and I don't want to have to pickup and clean every time I want to get together with someone as it takes some of the fun out of it).  So I've mostly abandoned this practice, unless they are good friends, don't mind a little dog hair on their clothes, and don't expect fancy hosting.
  • Saying "yes" when people ask me out if I really want to go, but telling them that, "I'm really focused on savings money, so can we go somewhere in inexpensive like x or y?"  Most people are really supportive of this.
  • Looking for the best value on the menu and not ordering drinks or dessert (unless we're out for drinks).
  • Taking half of the meal back to work for lunch--I don't feel as bad if I'm getting two meals out of it.

The most effective thing I've done is changed my mindset.  We have a fair number of out-of-town/country guests who stay with us for a night or weekend.  I love these visitors and my new-found frugal mindset meant I would get tense when I knew one was visiting, because I knew I'd spend more money on food/wine, and that bothered me because I really wanted them to visit.  So I changed my thinking from "spend as little as possible" to "spend on the important things."  People are important to me, so while I don't need cable or an iPhone or a remodeled kitchen, I do need people in my life and that is going to cost some money and that's OK.

Ishmael

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2014, 05:40:15 AM »
<snip>...So I changed my thinking from "spend as little as possible" to "spend on the important things."  People are important to me, so while I don't need cable or an iPhone or a remodeled kitchen, I do need people in my life and that is going to cost some money and that's OK.
Great wording, that's exactly the right balance IMO.

If I'm dealing with a big corporation, I try to be stingy and miserly. If I'm dealing with a small local business, I try to be fair. And if I'm dealing with friends/family, I try to be generous.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2014, 06:00:56 AM »
Yeah, always remember the difference between being frugal and being cheap.

I'm at the tail end of a vacation that's been frugal but has cost more in food and whatnot than I expected, but we've spent a few days with really good friends, and our kids love seeing each other. It's been rad.

Personally, my DW and I always enjoyed the cheap/free things. You can get to know someone far better on a walk/hike and a picnic lunch than trying to talk at a noisy bar or restaurant. If it helps, set an entertainment budget and stick to it. If you run over one month, cut back the next month. Be imaginative - fun doesn't require a purchase.

mikecorayer

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2014, 07:09:41 AM »
I also occasionally struggle with wanting to be social without needing to spend too much money at overpriced bars, restaurants, etc. I definitely support more house/apartment gatherings and when the weather is warmer here my friends and I often go on "beer walks" at night, walking around the city, maybe stopping in a park and just talking while drinking cheap beers from convenience stores along the way (I realize this may not be legal in many other cities). I've been cutting back on beer but a flask and buying cold mixers along the way works just as well : )

I try to avoid dinner dates (esp. first dates), but not just because I'm a cheap bastard. I find them more awkward, since you have to keep conversation going for long periods of time while simultaneously managing to chew. I've never felt that you actually get to know the person better while eating than if you just had a round of drinks. The reduced time commitment and low pressure of just having a drink together makes it easier for both of you to relax. Nothing worse than a horrible dinner date that drags on so long that you actually can't wait for that huge bill to arrive just so you can pay it and get out of there.

A final idea that keeps my social spending lower may be a bit trickier for some to implement, but it works for me. I have two hobbies which allow me ample time to socialize at bars, usually for free. I play music with some local rock bands. Whenever I play a show, I get in for free, get to check out some other local bands, and usually get a few free drinks from the bar and a little bit of money from the door. I also perform standup comedy and organize a weekly open mic. I get to support local comedy, meet funny people, and get a few free drinks as well. Between these two hobbies, I've usually got 1-2 nights out a week without even touching my wallet.

Even if getting on stage frightens you, you might be able to find ways of getting involved in other events that match your interests, even if it's just volunteering to help out in exchange for free entrance, etc. Of course, I should warn that spending a lot of time at bars makes it more tempting to buy more drinks, especially when you're in the mood to celebrate a good performance. When that does occur, however, I'm much happier to be doing my spending at bars that support events I enjoy.

mrsggrowsveg

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2014, 07:43:34 AM »
This can be such a hard thing to do.  Our group of friends meets at the local brewery at least once a week.  The beers can be so expensive.  We often just have one each and I sometimes just get a sample and sip on water.  You could also just get a soda, but that is almost as much as a drink.  We try to suggest and host other activities with our friends.  We throw a big party every year.  It can be a little expensive, but we make tacos from scratch so the biggest cost is the meat which usually comes from our farm.  Alcohol for parties is also expensive, but we sometimes serve homemade wine.  We also have dinner parties at our house and friends houses.  Usually the host provides the entree and the guests bring alcohol and dessert.  It is so much fun.  Also, we sometimes have campouts at our farm or attend campouts at a friend's farm.  That is very fun.  Everyone brings some kind of food to be cooked over fire and some drinks for themselves.

For dates, there are many cheap things you can do.  A nature hike and picnic can be very fun.  That is my husband and my favorite date activity.  We also like to attend free or cheap museums and libraries.  Happy hour and appetizers would be a cheaper way to eat out also.  If you want to avoid dinner, you could try paddleboating, biking, nature hikes or put put golf.

JPinDC

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2014, 07:44:22 AM »
Potlucks are a great idea! If you're into board games, try turning your friends onto them too, and those will become a good social opportunity and more affordable than a night out. Here are some suggestions: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/off-topic/what-are-your-favorite-board-games/

Being proactive is a big help. If you wait for your friends to invite you to things, you'll end up declining more than if you planned some free events. Here are some things my friends and I do/have done: hiking, pick-up football/volleyball games, book swap (you could swap other things too!), board/card games (euchre, poker, etc.), movie night (get something new on Redbox).

As for dates (this also goes for wanting to see friends but not wanting to eat a fancy dinner out), I'd suggest focusing on one part of a meal: drinks, coffee, dessert, tapas, etc. ESPECIALLY for early dates, where you don't even know if you'll like the person, going out for a whole dinner is a long date. Pick a nice area and you can always wander around and keep chatting after. Once you're a few dates in, take her home and make her dinner!

samburger

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2014, 07:44:40 AM »
<snip>...So I changed my thinking from "spend as little as possible" to "spend on the important things."  People are important to me, so while I don't need cable or an iPhone or a remodeled kitchen, I do need people in my life and that is going to cost some money and that's OK.
Great wording, that's exactly the right balance IMO.
[snip]

Yep, this is a great way to put it.

My budget for getting food and drinks out has actually grown since I found MMM. I've cut a lot of fat out of my budget,  which let me feel better about spending more on things I really value. I really value sharing good food and drink, but I don't really value that fancy data plan for my phone.

That's all to say, reduce those expenses if you don't value them, but don't cut just for the sake of cutting (unless your hair is on fire, of course).

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phred

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2014, 11:56:37 AM »
Cooking breakfast for six people while at the park may not cost much more than buying breakfast for one.  Ditto for lunch or supper.  A day of volleyball, feeding the pigeons, walking the paths, rowing one of the park's rowboats. 

A picnic in the park is a great first date if combined with some open-air exhibition or performance.  If she would rather have dinner and drinks at a high priced watering hole for a first date, you may be just a meal ticket

CommonCents

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2014, 12:22:05 PM »
Be creative and find likeminded people.

Here's an example of my week:
Tuesday: Seder dinner at a friends.  Cost: Wine she asked us to bring over.  Could have pushed back to bring a cheaper side dish, but b/w husband's work travel and taxes, I opted for easy acquiescence.
Tonight: Free movie screening of Railway Man.  Friend won the tickets and invited us.  4th such movie in two months.
Friday: Boston Wine Riot, 250 wines to try.  Cost: Free, friend is working event and gave us comp tickets because he knows we would enjoy it.
Sat: Private tour by curator of special exhibit at Old Sturbridge Village, followed by lunch.  Cost: lunch+gas to get there.  Tour is by good friend, tickets are free b/w her and my dad (retired career military gets 6 in free it says on website).  Will probably make a small donation though.
Sunday: Dinner at relatives.  Cost: Will bring an app to share.

hybrid

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2014, 12:39:31 PM »
Lead, don't follow. Most people enjoy spending money in their Exploding Volcanos of Wastefulness and don't give it a second thought. And I'm fine with that on occasion, within reason. What I've done differently (and this is admittedly easier if you are an extrovert) is be proactive about social activities where I can. It's sometimes easier to give your buddies something more frugal to say yes to (like hosting dinner in rather than going out) than the other way around.

Neat thing is, I've discovered many of my friends rather enjoy saving money where they can, they simply hadn't put any effort into the concept. I didn't have to pull anyone by the nose.

snareman1

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2014, 02:05:28 PM »

A final idea that keeps my social spending lower may be a bit trickier for some to implement, but it works for me. I have two hobbies which allow me ample time to socialize at bars, usually for free. I play music with some local rock bands. Whenever I play a show, I get in for free, get to check out some other local bands, and usually get a few free drinks from the bar and a little bit of money from the door. I also perform standup comedy and organize a weekly open mic. I get to support local comedy, meet funny people, and get a few free drinks as well. Between these two hobbies, I've usually got 1-2 nights out a week without even touching my wallet.

Even if getting on stage frightens you, you might be able to find ways of getting involved in other events that match your interests, even if it's just volunteering to help out in exchange for free entrance, etc. Of course, I should warn that spending a lot of time at bars makes it more tempting to buy more drinks, especially when you're in the mood to celebrate a good performance. When that does occur, however, I'm much happier to be doing my spending at bars that support events I enjoy.
Thank you for your input! I should add that I make a living as a drummer playing over 200 shows a year in various bars, clubs, casinos, etc. I get free food and drinks at work so thats cool. My band has the common issue of never being able to hang at gigs because we're kind of a big deal and can't be ourselves. So most association I have of "work" (bars night clubs, etc) is that I never want to be in one when I'm not working, sans the occasional friend in from out of town, etc. Perhaps volunteering in general could be a good thing to try on.


CommonCents

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2014, 02:35:45 PM »

A final idea that keeps my social spending lower may be a bit trickier for some to implement, but it works for me. I have two hobbies which allow me ample time to socialize at bars, usually for free. I play music with some local rock bands. Whenever I play a show, I get in for free, get to check out some other local bands, and usually get a few free drinks from the bar and a little bit of money from the door. I also perform standup comedy and organize a weekly open mic. I get to support local comedy, meet funny people, and get a few free drinks as well. Between these two hobbies, I've usually got 1-2 nights out a week without even touching my wallet.

Even if getting on stage frightens you, you might be able to find ways of getting involved in other events that match your interests, even if it's just volunteering to help out in exchange for free entrance, etc. Of course, I should warn that spending a lot of time at bars makes it more tempting to buy more drinks, especially when you're in the mood to celebrate a good performance. When that does occur, however, I'm much happier to be doing my spending at bars that support events I enjoy.
Thank you for your input! I should add that I make a living as a drummer playing over 200 shows a year in various bars, clubs, casinos, etc. I get free food and drinks at work so thats cool. My band has the common issue of never being able to hang at gigs because we're kind of a big deal and can't be ourselves. So most association I have of "work" (bars night clubs, etc) is that I never want to be in one when I'm not working, sans the occasional friend in from out of town, etc. Perhaps volunteering in general could be a good thing to try on.

Yes!  Volunteering is great.  Either in general for a feel good+social activity (e.g. Habitat for Humanity), or for free tickets to events.  The Boston Wine Riot mentioned above has a free volunteering program.  I've volunteered about 7 years now for the Boston Wine Expo for a pair of free tickets.

SwordGuy

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Re: How to reduce expenses WITHOUT Social Isolation?
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2014, 03:05:58 PM »
Join an historical reenactment group like www.sca.org.  They are always doing inexpensive things together.