Author Topic: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!  (Read 5939 times)

elincolnp

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Hi Everyone!

I am living a very frugal life, and enjoy it. I found MMM and EM after I had already been living this way for a few years, and I was basically searching for other people like me (because I was so sick of being called cheap!).

MMM and EM provided the butt-kicking I needed to take my frugality to a higher level. However, there is one area where I am consistently struggling to cut back. I go out every weekend with my girlfriends, sometimes 1 night, sometimes both nights. We live in Boston, so the costs are already pretty high. I generally get 1-2 drinks, and some food, and my bill comes in between $20-$30. So I'm spending anywhere from $20-$60 a weekend depending on how many nights I go out. Sometimes we do other things, or go to cheaper places, but generally it involves some sort of eating-drinking event. I would say a realistic estimate of what I'm spending is about $100-150 a month.

I don't have the living situation where I can invite friends home with me, but there are a lot of other cheaper options we could do (get a bottle of wine and go to their house, get sandwiches and beers and go to the beach, take a hike) but my friends don't seem to be interested in those options. We are in our early twenties, 2 years out of college, and I understand that for them, this is their life-enjoyment, and their way to blow off steam. My friends (most of my peers actually) seem to be terrible with their money, but I stay out of it because it's not my business, and I'm more interested in my own money situation anyway :)

The problem is that while we're having a great time, half of my brain is thinking I JUST SPENT $8 ON VODKA WITH SPRITE. SOMEBODY SHOOT ME! And it kind of ruins the evenings for me, because I walk home from the train feeling like a giant MMM failure. I've thought of quitting cold turkey, and not going out with my girlfriends anymore, but that's a hard choice to make, and it feels like I would be limiting future friendships as well - has anyone noticed how attached people are to spending money!? Also, it can be socially awkward to explain not wanting to spend money when my friends know that I'm very financially comfortable. But I've kept going out with them, because they're my support group, my main social connection from college, and it feels like it's important for me to get out of the house and have some girl-time on a weekly basis. I don't want to lose that, but frugality is equally important to me.

Here are the basic stats. My expenses are very low because I split everything with my boyfriend, so I'm giving a rough estimate, since we each move $400 a month into our joint account and it covers everything with a little leftover.

Monthly Income (after-tax): $2000
Monthly Commission (before tax): $150
Monthly expenses (rent, car insurance, groceries, gas, utilities, health insurance, weight watchers, phone bill): $400
Eating out with my friends: $100-150 (AHHHHHHHH! That number is SO big)
Student loans, credit card debt, other debt: $0
Car (2001 honda civic): $4100 bought with cash.

Obviously, I know that I need to start socializing in a way that's more comfortable to me, and I do have some plans in the work for that -- but I would love to hear how all of you handle this dilemma (or other similar dilemmas), and just to discuss the social aspect of frugality, especially when you're in your twenties where a certain type of going out is expected.



tooqk4u22

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2012, 07:05:41 AM »
Maintaining the social connections is very important both personally and professionally - so the wrong answer would be to give it up.  However you can be more selective when you choose to meet up with your friends and while it may be fine to grab a bottle of wine and hang at someones house that usually won't fly with most people everytime and if you constantly push that scenario then you will start getting excluded.  For those times when you do go out try limiting it to happy hours or the bar scene - happy hours typically have cheaper drinks and food or just going to bars puts you in control because you can eat or have a drink at home before you head out and while at the bar you can drink water - have the bartender put a lime in it and your friends will think you are drinking vodka and soda.  Try avioding meals because that is when you will spend more heavily on food and feel more pressured to get more drinks or split the tab - and a frugal person is never on the winning end of the story.  If they invite you to dinner say you have to work late and will meet up with them later.

grantmeaname

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2012, 07:11:44 AM »
Joe over at No More Harvard Debt is a big fan of taking a flask out to save money. Is that something you've thought about? You could also pregame at home to drink less there, which would accomplish much the same thing (or eat part of dinner at home and something smaller out, for that matter).

I would love to hear how all of you handle this dilemma (or other similar dilemmas), and just to discuss the social aspect of frugality, especially when you're in your twenties where a certain type of going out is expected.
I don't think every twenty-something is expected to drink out and go clubbing every weekend, or that every twenty-something expects that of their peers. I'm not saying you should ditch your old college friends, by any means, but if you're looking to move into a new social group you could move into the one from the farmer's market or the bike co-op, where your spending values are more typical.

sol

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2012, 08:30:18 AM »
Order an iced tea somewhere that has free refills and you can drink it all night for $1.75.  I'd pass on the expensive bar food that is cutting into your weight watchers goals anyway.

Jamesqf

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2012, 01:59:14 PM »
I think you have to step back a little, and ask yourself whether you really like going out, or whether you're just going out because it's the obvious way to socialize.  I asked this question of myself at a similar age, and the answer was "No, I hate the noise, "music", crowds, smoke, and just about everything else, and on top of that I don't really like myself when I have more than a couple of drinks.  I'm only doing this to try to meet women, but the women I meet are the ones who like going out & drinking, so we're not going to have much in common, now are we?"

While I can't answer for you, I can point out that as a woman you have plenty of options.  If you (and your girlfriends) are socializing with the goal of meeting men, you might be surprised to discover that almost any outdoor/physical activity attracts far more men than women.  (The only exception I've discovered is, oddly enough, riding horses, where women seem to outnumber men by about 10:1.)  So get your girlfriends up early (or earlier, anyway) some morning, and go out hiking, biking, kayaking, sailing...

zeebareader

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2012, 08:40:18 PM »
I'm in my mid-twenties and never really got into the partying/socializing like my peers did (not to say I didn't attend rocking geek parties on occasion). However, I realize that doing social things is a) expected of most people in their twenties and b) some people might enjoy doing such things, so if doing some social type activities is important to you, my biggest recommendation is Groupon and Living Social. Huge discounts on products, vacations, adventures, meals, etc. You can tailor your settings to your area and what interests you.

The really important things about using these two sites:
-remember why they exist (marketing and money making), and use them as a tool for doing totally awesome things you normally couldn't afford to do/a way to save some dough on things you would already do, not as a blindless way to spend money (you wouldn't do that anyway, I'm just throwing it out there)
-keep track of what you have purchased and their expiration dates so you aren't spending money for no reason'
-read the fine print on each and every voucher so you know exactly what you're getting into.

I have had amazing luck with these sites for some different things...giving my father the gift of going to see a specific performer live in concert (that he's been wanting to do for 40 years); instead of $300/ticket, I spent $60 for both of us. High end dinner date with my hubby that we would never do without such steep discounts. Great treat for our anniversary. Cheaper way to do occasional double dates with friends. 80% on something I already wanted to purchase, etc etc etc


A very important note about drinking in public is that alcohol in a bar/restaurant is expensive. If you want to drink w/ friends, do something fun at home where you can buy a whole bottle for less than one drink. When out in public, booze free is financially friendly. Or, ya know, order a coke and carry a flask of rum in your bag; not that I would ever do or condone such a thing *wink wink*

Also, I have discovered the joy of having dinner parties with close friends at home (ours or theirs). When you quickly coordinate a menu and everyone brings a dish, it makes it incredibly inexpensive to have a great time at home! If you're hanging out to hang out w/ your friends, you're going to have a good time be it at home or in a bar...I personally don't like bars, so I would prefer to have a good time at home anyway, but that's just me.

Rock on twenty something mustache!

MooreBonds

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2012, 11:18:43 PM »
In addition to the comments about frequent drinking being a hit to your wallet....don't forget that there's a reason ethanol (what gives vodka/whiskey/rum/etc. it's kick) is used for automobile and rocket fuel, rather than soda and iced tea: it contains LOTS of energy.

Translation: it's high in calories.

So not only is your frequent eating and drinking out a detriment to your wallet, it's a double whammy by also not helping your waistline, and as a result, not helping reduce your budget for Weight Watchers.

Your overall budget seems reasonable...but if you aren't content with just being average with your expenditures and savings (and in this culture, "average" budgets and savings sure won't get you far on the economic success ladder), then simply suggest some alternative, lower cost activities s to your friends.

There's a chance they'll join you in your alternative socializing. But there's also a good chance they'll ask you why you don't want to go out as frequently. When you tell them it's for financial reasons, they'll be frozen in complete and utter incomprehension-able shock.

To paraphrase a Dave Ramsey saying (but please ignore his investment advice, since it's inaccurate and can, at times, be catastrophically optimistic), if you truly want to later live like no one else, then today you'll have to live like no one else. Saving money requires sacrifices. Some people are willing to make more sacrifices than others. If it were easy, everyone would be retired at 45.

I made almost unbelievable financial sacrifices in my 20s to save. As a result, I'm letting the stash grow, and will soon reap the rewards in my 40s. Was it always fun? No. Could I have had a hell of a time spending more money in my 20s? Sure. Did I still have many pleasant, happy memories from my 20s and early 30s when I hardly spent anything? You betcha. Of course, I did splurge a little every now and then...but they were carefully controlled splurges, combined with an incessant drive to lower my cost of living in various ways.

And keep in mind: 10 years from now, would you rather be broke with these women who you might describe as friends, or would you rather have a respectable stash of funds with 'friends' who truly respect you and what you want/think (and whom might still be the same women that you hang out with now)?

Hi Everyone!
I am living a very frugal life, and enjoy it. I found MMM and EM after I had already been living this way for a few years, and I was basically searching for other people like me (because I was so sick of being called cheap!).

Are these your "Friends" calling you cheap? Why? Because you don't want to spend more than you earn? Because you want to be able to afford to retire before you're 80? Saving $20,000 in your 20s is magnitudes better than several times that later on in life.


Monthly expenses (rent, car insurance, groceries, gas, utilities, health insurance, weight watchers, phone bill): $400
Is your monthly expense $400, or is that a weekly expense? Seems awfully low, even with splitting an apartment w/ a boyfriend.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2012, 11:30:27 PM by MooreBonds »

elincolnp

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2012, 07:30:05 AM »
Thanks everyone for all your thoughts and suggestions! I loved the Dave Ramsey quote :)

I'm gonna' be perfectly honest with you guys - I have NEVER once considered just ordering an iced tea or a water. And that is the freaking best idea ever! Because it puts the control back in my hands instead of complaining about how my friends love going out. Thank you! I can see now that I didn't want to do the hard work of saying No to expensive drinks, so I was considering ditching my social life instead. totally lame.

To MooreBonds, my monthly expenses are $400. My boyfriend and I live in a multi-unit house he owns with his brother, and in MA, that means that if I pay towards his mortgage, I can claim partial ownership of his house if we split up. His part of the mortgage is around $300 (we have a super sweet housing situation), so splitting it would still cost less then my social drinking habit *cringe*

Thanks everyone!

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2012, 07:44:05 AM »
Wow, your housing situation is unbelievable!  I've never heard of anything close to that near Boston!

I agree with the Groupon idea.  And definitely skip the drinks when you go out.  There's no traditional happy hour in Boston (but did you hear they're talking about changing that?) but since places can't offer cheap drinks, they sometimes offer cheap food to get people in the door.  Aim for those places.

There's been talk about whether or not to keep going out with these girlfriends, but it doesn't have to be all or none.  I suggest making some new friends who have similar goals and going out with them too.  Some nights you'll go out with your college girlfriends, other nights you'll go out with your new friends.  It's good to have variety anyway.  You don't need to give up your spendy friends, just have others you can hang out with too so that you have less expensive nights/days occasionally to balance the more spendy ones.  Meetup.com is a great way to meet new friends.  Pick groups where you think you'll have genuine interest in the people and activities, and just make friends.  Hopefully they'll turn out to also be thrifty.  Or join one of the thrifty groups.  Boston has seemingly innumerable meetup groups.

nolajo

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2012, 06:00:53 PM »
If your space doesn't work for entertaining you might try a picnic of some sort during the traditional "happy hour." Either you could provide sandwiches etc or it could be potluck, but it could be held at a park or another open space. Also, I don't know what the open container laws are like in Massachusetts, so this may not work, but around here we can have anything so long as it's not in glass. That means a box of wine might be good, cans of beer (there's some good stuff being canned these days), and mixed drinks can all be on the menu if people want a couple drinks to unwind. It's certainly a bit uncouth to initiate a monthly "evening in" that has to happen at someone else's house, but if you host the first one while it's pleasant outside, you might be able to get it going.

Another thought, especially since you live in Boston, is to work on any friendships you may have with grad students. They tend to have minimal disposable income and in my experience are more open to low cost fun as the default. You certainly don't have to give up on your current friends, but if you're uncomfortable being frank about your budget, developing friendships with a wider variety of common interests may be a good plan.


Zoot Allures

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2012, 12:15:21 AM »
I'm gonna' be perfectly honest with you guys - I have NEVER once considered just ordering an iced tea or a water.

If you live in Portland, you also have the option of enjoying a can of fine PBR, Hamm's, or Rainier for $2. I'm sure this holds true for other cities, too, but Portland in particular has a proud tradition of cheap beer, even with the explosion in microbrewing.

Soda water with bitters might be a good choice, too. It's refreshing and also gives the illusion of being a cocktail.


deciduous

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2012, 06:27:54 AM »
I like what everyone else is saying about "control" here. That's good. No one is saying you should stop being sociable.

But I think going out and having a few drinks is part of that. Keep in mind the studies that have shown how using willpower takes energy. (I can look them up if you want.) There are times and places to fight for every last dime; but the whole point of going out with your friends is to relax and enjoy life. You seem to be living well within your means, and your social eating/drinking habits are within your control. Yes, cocktail prices are often pretty painful. But is the alternative still satisfying? You have to determine it for yourself, maybe with some experiments.

When I'm out with friends, I am also looking to do my share for their happiness. Depending on how your group operates, that may mean making sure you pick up a round here and there even if you've reduced your personal budget. You can make decisions about your own spending, but not about your friends', and the way that drinks are typically bought for the group means that it can be pretty tricky to scale back without being something of a mooch.

Good luck! It's hard to keep participation up and spending down.

elincolnp

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2012, 07:04:00 AM »
Portland in particular has a proud tradition of cheap beer

Oh, Portland, how wonderful you and your cheap beers are :)

mm1970

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2012, 02:34:55 PM »
I wouldn't give it up entirely, but I second the idea of ordering water.  I've spent a lot of time in the last year ordering water with lime, or soda water with lime (some places actually charge you for the bubbles).  Of course, that was due to pregnancy.  But still.

When I was in my 20's, I went out a lot. On the weekends.  Mid-week after volleyball games.  It was fun, I was living in DC, making friends, I had a job.  And years later, when we bought our house and cleaned out the garage in our rental (2004), I found a credit card bill from those times.  $1100 a month.  And 90% of that was eating out and drinking out.  Shit.  I was already well down the frugality path at that point.  It was a slap in the face when I think how much that turned into in my 5 years in DC.

These days, my own methods of limiting alcohol and eating out are more weight related.  I like good wine, but I started limiting myself to one bottle a week.  Meaning: I can open a bottle on Friday or Saturday if I'd like.  When it's gone, it's gone (regardless of whether or not I share with husband or friends).  And I cannot open a bottle any other night.  So if I'm not feeling it on Fri or Sat, and Sunday rolls around...too bad.  You could limit yourself to one drink out a week, and maybe 2 meals a month to start?

Also, years ago I worked hard to lose >50 lbs, and I had to stop eating out and drinking cold turkey (I did eventually ease some back in once I had control over my cravings).  I did that again to lose baby weight after my first child.  And will have to start doing that again with baby #2.  When you spend a great deal of time and effort to lose and maintain weight, it's easier to say no to the trigger items.

kudy

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2012, 04:58:53 PM »
I often get made fun of for having my flask... but I'm okay with that.  I would say going out *every* weekend is the real killer here - maybe let them know you're doing something else (cheaper or at no cost) for 3 out of 4 weekends, and give them the option to come along.

Monkey stache

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2012, 09:28:05 PM »
I shamelessly bring a flask and no one teases me for it. I always tip my server/bar tender extra well since I am cutting in their tips for bringing my own alcohol and a lot of them only make $2.15 an hour.
PS: I think this flask would be perfect: http://www.amazon.com/Screw--Stainless-Flask--Mustache-Measures/dp/B007NOJJRG/

MOD EDIT: Referral link removed. Also: Hah! That flask is awesome.

PS: didn't realize it was a referral link! Didn't do that on purpose.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2012, 10:02:22 PM by RandR »

elincolnp

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Re: Young Mustachian needs help saving money on social expenses!
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2012, 05:56:17 AM »

These days, my own methods of limiting alcohol and eating out are more weight related.  I like good wine, but I started limiting myself to one bottle a week.  Meaning: I can open a bottle on Friday or Saturday if I'd like.  When it's gone, it's gone (regardless of whether or not I share with husband or friends).  And I cannot open a bottle any other night.  So if I'm not feeling it on Fri or Sat, and Sunday rolls around...too bad.  You could limit yourself to one drink out a week, and maybe 2 meals a month to start?



Thanks for sharing your method - I think I am going to put the 1 bottle rule into effect as well, and just limit the alcohol entirely (it's really an expense however you look at it, whether financial or health).