One of the biggest concerns that people have when they’re financially rebooting their life is how they’re going to find people to fill their social circle. Many, many people have social circles that engage in activities that are expensive – a constant cycle of going out for dinners, drinking at bars, going clothes shopping together, and so on – and while you might be fine with stepping back from those activities, it’s often much more challenging to step back from the connections with people.
If all of your friends are spenders, what do you do when you choose to step back from all of that spending?
It’s a question I faced myself during the early stages of our financial turnaround. My main social circle prior to that consisted of a group of young professionals in my field at the time. They went out for drinks most nights after work. They often went out for meals together. They went golfing on the weekends. Sometimes, they’d shop together. They’d constantly try to one-up each other with purchases, particularly regarding clothing, electronics, cars, and luxury experiences like eating at a new restaurant.
Frankly, it was incredibly expensive to hang out with those people. Virtually every activity I did with them involved shelling out money left and right.
It was readily apparent that if I wanted a financially stable life where I could build toward my big dream of financial independence, I had to make some big changes to how I spent my time after work and on the weekends. However, doing so meant that I would have to walk away from this social circle I had built.
I did it anyway.
Today, I easily have a larger social circle than I had then, but there was a rough period of transition where I had to figure out how frugal and financially responsible people found friends. Here are the strategies that really worked for us.
Invite people in your social group to do more financially responsible things.
As we started to withdraw from the more expensive social lifestyle, we didn’t just cut ourselves off from our friends. Instead, we made a concerted effort to invite those friends to do other things that weren’t perhaps as financially strenuous.
We hosted dinner parties (more on this in a bit). We invited people to go to free community concerts with us. We invited people to play disc golf with us. We invited people to picnic and hike with us.
What happened is that some people just weren’t interested at all and they somewhat faded out of our life (this was the largest group, but not overwhelmingly so). Another set of people went along with it simply because they liked our friendship. A third group loved it and were glad to have an excuse to get off of the spending train and still have people to hang out with.
To this day, I still have good friends who were part of that initial group of overspenders that I hung out with back then. They weren’t driven away by our lifestyle changes; instead, they were fine with the change or, in some cases, very glad to see it.
You might find that changing your activities doesn’t mean losing your friends after all.