“I have $700 on my credit card that I can’t pay off, but it’s not like I’m going to sacrifice my social life to pay it off.”
“My roommate is $15,000 in debt, but she still goes out every weekend and always has a new pair of shoes.”
Sound familiar? On a near daily basis, I hear my colleagues and friends complain about money. Money is a hard topic for most people — we’re not formally taught how to budget or negotiate higher salaries, let alone the impact that debt has on our financial well-being.
So the question is: Should you sacrifice your social life for financial independence?
My answer: Yes.
But that sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it? The idea behind sacrificing your social life implies a life of solitude and loneliness, which I certainly don’t want for you. As a millennial early on in her career, I can relate to the complicated relationship our generation has with money. We live in a culture of bottomless mimosas but the pressure to close the gender wage gap. So how do you save money, cut down on debt, while also having a social life? It’s all comes down to one simple formula: Creativity + Accountability.
You likely already know that you don’t need to go “out” to be social and to have a good time. After all, binging The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu or rewatching Gilmore Girls on Netflix are also some of your favorite ways to pass time. To be financially responsible, it’s important to get creative with how you spend your money. To get rid of the debt that your social life has created and kickstart your journey to financial wellness — apply some of these creative alternatives:
Swap This: Bar Hopping. Four drinks priced between $15 - 20 each can be up to $60 - $80. In one night.
For That: Make-Your-Own-Mixed-Drink Night. Pair up your friends and have them bring their favorite mixed drink concoctions. You can even make it a taste test and crown the group who makes the best beverage. Cap your spending to $20 and there will be plenty to go around.
Swap This: Bottomless Mimosa Brunch. Depending on the restaurant, this splurge can cost anywhere from $15-$25, not including the food. You can estimate $50 easily for one brunch out with friends.
For That: Brunch at Home. Get a group of your friends together and have everyone bring their own mimosa fixins and a dish to share. Have half of your friends bring orange juice, and the other half bring the champagne. Choose a theme for the brunch so your meal is as cohesive as it would be at a restaurant. A solid go-to is huevos rancheros.
Swap This: Seeing a concert or going on an expensive trip.
For That: I get it, the FOMO can be real. But instead of spending money you don’t have, make a recommendation to do something completely free, such as going on a hike, heading up to the beach for some run, or doing mani/pedis at home (you’ve been meaning to catch up anyway, right?).
The next piece of the puzzle is finding an accountability buddy. You’re already getting creative with alternative plans that require little-to-no financial requirements. Now take it a step further. Find someone you trust, preferably in your social circle, who you can tell about your plans to cut back on your social spending. Simply phrasing your ask like “Hey, I’ve been going overboard lately on my social spending, but I still want to see our friends. Could you help come up with less expensive, but still fun, ideas for us to do together?” They may feel the same way, but didn’t know how to ask. Once you’ve found your accountability buddy, take it one step further. Tell them your cap for this weekend’s dinner, how much you plan to save for your next vacation, and so on. By opening up about your money decisions, you begin to break down the social barriers that have made us feel comfortable around finances. You, your friends, and your bank account will thank you later.