I miss college. I don’t miss the all nighters, the stress, and the tears about what I was going to do with my life, but I miss the fact that EVERYONE WAS CHEAP. No one ever said, “let’s go hang out at the club” or “let’s go out to eat at X fancy restaurant” it was all “who has Netflix on their laptop!?” and “Anyone want to make waffle Sundays at the dining hall this dinner?” Things are different now, though I’ve found new cheap activities to love. My boyfriend is cool with this, and we spend a lot of time walking around to free parks and looking at flowers, trees, people, dogs, whatever. However, suddenly friends get introduced, social pressure happens and it is hard to stick to the budget.
People want to go out to eat. They have birthdays. They have dogs with cancer and start gofundme campaigns. They want to go somewhere that involves a car, which I don’t have, and gas money, which I also don’t have. They don’t want to watch a library movie in my tiny apartment with no TV and no air conditioning. In short, the choice often seems to be a life of isolation or sticking to the budget. Worse, for instances like the gofundme campaign or birthdays, being cheap makes me feel like the biggest douche in the world. THAT’S how much you care about me? Really? It is hard when $10 is your gas money for two weeks, and it is nothing to someone else. Why not give it up? What does that extra $10 really matter anyway?
- Be honest with people about your limits
- Have some sort of social budget each month
- Come up with cheap alternatives
What they don’t tell you is that it STILL SUCKS. With these guidelines, it’s like being on a diet all over again. Everywhere you go you keep thinking, what about money? Is this going to cost money? How am I doing this month? How are you supposed to focus on friends, when all you think about when a friend calls you is “Is this going to cost me money?” My gosh LIFE IS NOT ABOUT MONEY!
So change what you think about.
I find that my main problem with not spending money, it is that spending money is how I show people that I care. It is how I show that I value time with them. But as I just said, life is not about money. Friendship is not about money. This is where being on a budget goes back to being fun. And creative, and maybe a little messy, but illuminating too. Instead of thinking about limiting activities, and friend visits, and presents, and donations, I found that I needed to try and think about ways I could increase the ways that I show people that I care. Here is my list.
- Sharing with friends the fun (and cheap) activities you like to do. Good ideas are bake dates (let’s bake something together), coffee and walk around dates, volunteer dates, picnics in the park, and matinee movies. Yeah these may be cheap, but you’re not asking anyone to do them because you can’t afford something better. You’re asking people because you genuinely enjoy these activities, and think they will too.
- Make them things. From handmade cards to play lists, videos, baked goods, and photo books, the time and personalization that goes into these things makes them touching and heartfelt gifts. Plus, in learning how to do these things, you are learning a new skill! Congratulations!
- If you can’t donate a lot, publicize. That really cool cause you want to support? Make flyers and post them up in your local coffee shop or work break room. You may not have money, but someone else does!
- Just call people and pay attention to them. You don’t have to limit your listening time to just when you and your friend go out to dinner. Really invest in making the people you care about part of your everyday life, from facebook, to texting, to phone calls and face to face time. Then even if you have to turn them down every once and awhile, they still know you care.
Just like many things with a budget, I’ve found that it isn’t about denying yourself the ability to do things, but about being open to the possibilities of doing things that you haven’t thought of before. So the next time you feel deprived because you can’t go out for drinks or go to the club, take the time you gained to call up an old friend, or volunteer somewhere and help out those in need. Invite everyone for Sunday brunch picnic in the park, and spend time with them in a situation where you can actually, talk, listen, and appreciate each other. Life isn’t about money or material things, but about the experience we have in caring for and helping out one another. So you being on a budget? It doesn’t deprive you of anything that important at all.
This Week in Updates: IN PORTLAND FOR A WEDDING!
That’s right, I’m with the boyfriend. In face, I am writing this as Jesse is experiencing his very last day at his current job. He is very excited, and while his company is not excited to see him leave, they are still baking him a cake and buying him lots of food. And a girl on a budget? Never turns down free food! There will also be more free food at my friend Mark Walker’s wedding (no it is not mine! Contrary to popular belief). Thus, until I can establish how far leftovers will carry me (I brought lunch boxes so that I could bring them back with me, aren’t I clever?) I cannot go grocery shopping. This month is actually fairly full of travel, so there may be another week where I do not have a receipt either.
In terms of working out, I am defiantly struggling with the long bike rides. Doing them is not hard, but running the next day is extremely hard! Small steps are being made however, and I’m running into beautiful views along the American River Bike Trail. This trail is awesome because not only is it very smoothly paved, BUT it has bathrooms and bubblers everywhere! It is amazing to not have to worry about water or a bathroom.
Also, notable this week is $110 of tri gear I got from REI for $10. How did I do that you ask? Applied for the REI credit card! The in store promotion means the minute you even put $1 on that card, you get an $100 gift card back. The other awesomeness too is that you get 5% back for each REI purchase. Combine that with the 10% back I get for being an REI member, and that is 15% off ALL THE TIME! For anyone relying heavily on REI for gear, I highly recommend it.
The Recipe: Raw Chocolate Almond Butter Cookies (Paleo and Vegan!)
Do you have paleo friends and vegan friends? Or perhaps you just want a healthy cookie to snack on? I brought these to my meetup group and was floored by all the favorable reviews. Simple, delicious, and quick, these are good for you, and a real crowd pleaser. The taste is rich, surprisingly dark and sweet, with just a hint of almond.
1/3 cup chocolate baking powder +4 extra TBSP’s
1 cup freshly ground almond butter (it is drier than the pre ground kind)
1/2 cup almonds
4 tablespoons honey
Mix the cocoa baking powder with the almond butter and honey. Mold into cookie shapes, and roll in the extra cocoa powder to help take care of the external stickiness. Chop up half the almonds, and roll the cookies in the chopped up almonds. Put a couple almonds on top to make them look pretty. Enjoy!