Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator
In college (and in life in general), people want to do things and they want you to do things with them. However, when you’re on a college student budget, and just want to make sure you can afford Ramen next week, this can get really overwhelming! But, you don’t have to stop hanging out with your friends just because you’re on a budget.
Your friends want to go out to eat?
If you just can’t say no, see if you can pick the place. Pick something where everyone either splits the bill for one BIG entrée (like a pizza!) or go somewhere with cheaper meal options. But, if your friends pick a place outside of your price range, make sure you opt for water (free!). As for food: get an appetizer, see if you can order a smaller portion of an entrée (lunch portions are generally cheaper), go vegetarian for the night (typically cheaper options), or just order dessert!
Your friends want to hit the mall?
If you have issues with impulse spending, don’t go. Even if you leave your wallet at home, you’ll see things that you’re tempted to buy and come back for them later. Offer to meet up with your friends later if you know you won’t be able to stop yourself from spending money. If you think you won’t be tempted to spend any money, go with them and be their personal stylist for the trip. Just remember two big things: 1) don’t make them spend more money just because you’re not spending money and 2) don’t judge them for spending money just because you can’t.
Your friends want to take an expensive weekend trip?
First of all, don’t be a mooch…that’s just tacky. Be open and ask how much the trip will cost, then take some time to determine if you can make room in your budget for it. Be honest with yourself on how much you’re REALLY able to spend on a weekend trip right now Where else in your budget will you have to make sacrifices? What funds will you need to tap into to afford this trip? Is this a good way to spend your hard-earned cash? Do you really want to go…or is fear of missing out (FOMO) motivating you?
If you go, stick to your budget: bring your own snacks for the road and your stay, drink water with dinner, don’t give into impulse purchases, bring something to do for nights in, etc.
If you don’t go, then find something free and fun to do while you’re home for the weekend. Go out and volunteer, read a book, go for a walk…do something and don’t just sit around all weekend while they’re out having fun. You can have fun too!
These are just a few examples, of course. There are many more ways that you’ll feel pressured into spending money. Just remember: you have a budget for a reason. You’re living like a college student now, so you don’t have to live like a college student later.
How do you manage being social on a budget? Let us know in the comments below!