Monday, August 27, 2007

Your Choice: Frugal Friends or Big Spender Buddies?

Author: Nick
Category: Money

what kind of company do you keep?

For those of us struggling to stay frugal in the relatively expensive and lavish society we call America, common sense dictates that we try to kindle relationships with like-minded individuals–people who budget, watch every penny, and do their best to stay out of debt. The thinking is that having frugal friends will help us maintain our own thrifty traits. Indeed, having frugal friends comes with many benefits:

  • No pressure to spend. Your penny-pinching pals rarely splurge on high-cost items or events, so you don’t feel compelled to keep up with the Joneses.
  • Opportunities to share. Close friends on a budget save money by readily sharing high-ticket items like power tools, golf clubs, and Lexuses Kia Rios.
  • Fairly split checks. Your meal was $12 and theirs was $20. While your friends might not mind splitting the check down the middle in this case, they won’t because they don’t want to be on the wrong end of check-splitting next time. Frugal friends more fairly share expenses.
  • Cheap company. Your budgeting buddies won’t be as opposed to board game nights over $100 baseball games and video store rentals over $12 movie tickets.
  • Looking out for each other. Frugal friends can exchange tips on saving money, cutting costs, and getting great local deals.

Now while your wallet may appreciate you limiting your friends to tightwads and scrooges, there’s only so much “spice of life” that can be found in a weekly game of Scrabble. So while I usually like to hang out with folks sharing my sense of money, I do keep a few big spender buddies around for times when trips to the dollar store won’t cut it for a Friday night. There are plenty of benefits to holding on to less budget-conscious friends:

  • You’ll have lots of fun. Yes, it’s painfully true that money can buy a good time–often even a better time than you can get for free or cheap.
  • They’ll spend money on you. Spendy friends won’t feel as compelled to share the cost of certain items; they’ll pick up the tab far more often than your frugal friends.
  • They throw more parties. We’re friends with a couple who has a party at their house at least once a month. We try not to go every time though because we don’t want to get addicted to an extravagant way of life.
  • They have boats, pools, and giant TVs. Yeah, most of your stuff is crap compared to theirs. Just don’t try to keep up with these friends or your pocket book won’t forgive you.

Of course, despite all the perks of socializing with spendthrifts, you may also have to deal with the negatives: splitting checks down the middle when all you had was a salad, shelling out for expensive event tickets, and maybe even temporarily ignoring your budget during a night out on the town. Just be sure to space out your high-roller hijinks so you’re not tempted to discard your parsimonious lifestyle for good.

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