I sat my $40 Justfab bag next to their LV bags and slowly realized that I may just be the broke friend.
Honestly my life right now resembles that of Kristen Wiig in the movie Bridesmaid, where a series of unfortunate events led to an extended stay in broke-ville.
I grew up in a household where we never had a lot of money but somehow my mother always made the best of it and we never felt out of place amongst others. As I started venturing out of my immediate friend group and into other social circles I learned that I was more frugal than others or in some cases, I just didn’t value spending money on certain experiences. There have been times where I have been questioned and isolated because of my inability to financially contribute to certain things but anyone in your life that makes you feel bad about not having enough money to hang with them is not a friend at all and you should create some distance for the sake of your mental health.
With social media as a constant reminder to make our lives appear to be more lavish than they really are I find more and more people financially struggling just to “Do it for the Gram”. Well, “I ain’t gon do it”. I wrote a post (read here) about living with my mom and about saving more money (read here). I love being on the social scene but I fully believe in living within your means, fabulously, so I created a short list of things you can do right now to survive as the “broke friend”.
1. Be Transparent- There is nothing wrong with letting your friends know that you just don’t have it. If you miss a party, brunch or dinner that’s ok. Your loyal friends will find ways to compromise. Instead of going out to a restaurant you can host a get together at someone’s house or if the weather is nice head outdoors to a park for a picnic. Being transparent doesn’t mean you expose all your financial information but it does help if you let them know just a bit.
2. Don’t be the broke friend- Consider why you are the broke friend. Is it because you are truly frugal? Or is it because your debt and expenses have taken over your life? If your answer is debt related than it may be time to really focus on becoming debt free. Make a budget and seek out podcasts or blogs that offer free financial advice (such as this one) and really focus on becoming debt free so that you can enjoy more of your income.
3. We all have the same google- living a socially active life doesn’t have to come with a high price tag. There are plenty of discount sites (Groupon etc.) that offer discounts for everything so take advantage and check those sites first. I also check Eventbrite on a regular to find free or low-cost events to attend. For big-ticket conferences/concerts don’t be afraid to email organizers to see if they need volunteers or ask if there is a discount or coupon code that can be used. When your finances are not in your favor than networking can help make ends meet.
What’s most important is managing your feelings. Not having enough money to keep up with your friends (or associates) can be a bummer sometimes but increasing your debt or skipping out on your obligations is not the way to go. Don’t feel ashamed about finding alternative affordable activities (AAA, ha!) that won’t hurt your pockets. Most important don’t let people who are not paying your bills make you feel less than. We are all on individual journeys and no one is living your life but you!!
......Or you could just get new friends/tribe