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The Simple Dollar

Social life breaking the bank? Find frugal friends.

The number of frugal things people can do together and have fun is almost infinite, Hamm writes.

By Guest blogger / January 2, 2013

Peter Baylies shows his older son, John, how to cut onions. Inviting friends over for a potluck dinner is a great way to have a frugal social life, Hamm recommends.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor/File

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When you spend time with your friends, what do you do?

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The Simple Dollar is a blog for those of us who need both cents and sense: people fighting debt and bad spending habits while building a financially secure future and still affording a latte or two. Our busy lives are crazy enough without having to compare five hundred mutual funds – we just want simple ways to manage our finances and save a little money.

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Do you go to each other’s houses for potluck dinners, or do you go out on the town for dinner?

When you watch movies together, do you toss a DVD someone already owns into the DVD player at a friend’s house, or do you head to the theater?

When you have a party, do you try to outdo each other with expensive finger foods and beverages, or do you just enjoy whatever’s available?

When you’re bored and call up a friend for something to do, do you get together and play a board game or do some crafts, or do you head out for a round of golf or some shopping? 

The answers to these questions aren’t absolutes, but your answers likely trend a certain way. If they trend toward the side of spending, you might want to look at rebooting your social circle a bit and find friends that will encourage you to have a lot of fun on the cheaper side.

How do you find frugal friends, though?

Your best bet is to go where frugal people would go. Look for social groups that don’t require a significant amount of money to be spent to enjoy the activity. Free classes at the community center is one good place, as are book clubs sponsored by the local library. Volunteer activities are another good way to meet people whose social activity isn’t necessarily focused on spending.

When you engage in these activities, look for people to build friendships with. Be outgoing. Get to know as many of the people there as you can. Look particularly for the ones that click with you in some fashion.

Then, engage in frugal social activities with those people. Invite them over for a potluck dinner. Or to watch a movie. Or to play a board game. Or to work on a craft project. Or to make a bunch of meals in advance. The number of frugal things people can do together and have fun is almost infinite.

Before you know it, you’ll have cultivated a social circle whose normal behavior is one that conserves money rather than a social circle that spends money. Not only will that save you money in terms of your social outings, but it will also save you money in terms of the social reinforcement of frugal behavior when you’re not around your friends.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on www.thesimpledollar.com.

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