Living on a Budget – When Your Friends Aren’t

Photo by Aquababe, used with CC License

One of the reasons we launched this site is to help everyone to be a little more budget-conscious – budgeting your time and your money – but still live the “good life.”

That’s easier said than done in this crazy modern economy: everyone’s more connected than you, everyone’s doing cooler things than you, and everyone is living the good life (or so it seems).

But is that really the case? It’s tough to actually live on a budget when, in reality, everyone else is just maxing out on their credit cards, spending like there’s no tomorrow, and borrowing left and right.

Okay, okay, the truth here is probably somewhere in between. Your friends AREN’T off spending like mad. And you’re not living like a pauper. Just being more frugal.

So, here are some tips for living on a budget when your friends aren’t.

  1. Don’t believe the hype
  2. One reason you THINK your friends aren’t on a budget is this wired Facebook era we’re in. Perception: they post photos of their vacation, therefore they’re loaded. Reality: it may just appear that all your friends are on vacation.

    Advice here: ditch Facebook for a little while. Like a couple hours a day of a Facebook break. Don’t go there, don’t look at it, don’t get sucked in.

  3. Use cash whenever you can
  4. Your friends will appear to be carefree with their spending when they whip out the plastic. Think about it – you’re at dinner with a group, the check comes, you’re all ready to split it. There’s usually one person who is willing to put it all on their card if everyone gives them cash.

    Be the one who gives them the cash. Why? Unless you use some sort of envelope system (see below), you’re less likely to put that wad of cash right into your account. It’s human nature to look at cash as if it’s to be spent, not saved.

  5. The Envelope System
  6. You don’t have to be crazy elaborate here: have an envelope for groceries, have an envelope for gas money, for eating lunches out, etc. Put cash in at the beginning of the pay period and, when it’s gone…it’s gone.

    If you want to borrow from the other envelopes, that’s your business. But you’ll begin to think differently about how, and when, you use your money.

  7. Eat IN every chance you get
  8. Yup, this is where lots of people find big bites taken out of their monthly cash flow. And, especially when you have lots of choices for discount food – we LOVE Aldi, for instance, as we detailed in this post from Nancy Hala.

    Feed your foodie obsession at home first. The savings alone can help you set aside the dollars for the real dining experience – and can help you appreciate that dining experience a heck of a lot more.

  9. Avoid Groupon
  10. This might sound counter-intuitive. Avoiding Groupon and the daily deal sites?

    That’s right. Think about how many times you’re window shopping and you think “wow, if I could get that outfit for half price, I’d buy it!” Now, imagine there’s a website that feeds this obsession – giving you experiences at half price.

    Advice? Try Pinterest instead. You can window shop there and not buy anything.

You don’t have to rub it in your friends’ faces – and you don’t have to feel like a second-class citizen when you’re on a budget, either.

Here’s to you and your New Frugality lifestyle!

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About Frugal Freida

Frugal Freida is the archetypical New Frugality visitor - savvy, smart, social and aiming to help share her tips with the world.

Carrie Smith
Carrie Smith

I definitely agree with the "avoiding Facebook" tip. I'm sure the vacation photos, and pictures of new clothing, shoes and etc, all have an effect on us subconsciously. I would much rather window shop with Pinterest like you suggest. Great tips here!