Under the current economic climate, and in a post-pandemic era, socialising can be a challenge and even more so if we’re worried about the cost. But we know how detrimental isolating ourselves can be to our wellbeing, so it’s important we don’t let money worries or social pressure cause us to withdraw from our friends, family and work. We can keep moving forward through the challenging times, so keep reading for our top tips for socialising without breaking the bank.
When was the last time you socialised without spending money? Other than lockdown - when it wasn’t really a choice - these days the activities we do to spend time with friends, catch up with family, or network with new people, can get expensive and fast. Coffee dates, meals out, day trips with the kids, even just parking or taking the bus costs us. But we know how beneficial these interactions are for us and our wellbeing.
Making time to socialise boosts our mood, gives us a sense of purpose, allows us to connect and build satisfying relationships, all of which contributes to good wellbeing. Not to mention how lovely it can be to have a laugh with friends, find a shoulder to cry on, and natter away with those we care about.
But when there’s financial strain, navigating our social life can be stressful in itself. While the rising cost of living looms over us we might be trying to find any and all ways to cut back on spending, turning down invites, declining dinners, making coffee at home, or telling the kids no. So how can we manage the social pressure to spend, while ensuring we’re not isolating ourselves too much while worrying about the pinch in our pocket?
Set aside a budget for your social life each month
Even if it’s only a small amount, having a budget can help us feel able to spend and socialise when we want or even need to. It gives us a safety net when we forget a birthday or dinner reservation. It can reduce worry and encourage mindful spending, when we take time to consider and set aside some pennies for nice things. Review your calendar each month alongside your finances, so you can plan and budget accordingly.
Host social events at home
Now, we don’t need to be expert party planners, chefs or provide lavish dinners. But hosting at home, or going to other’s home can be a cost effective way to connect. Offer to cook for you and your mum to have lunch together this week, or pop into a friends for coffee rather than the coffee shop, or throw a games night, movie marathon or a cocktail party. It might not be the michelin star menu or the silky latte you’ve grown accustomed too, but it’s sure to cut the costs of socialising - while still getting to enjoy the things you like to do.
Talk about financial pressure with your friends
Being open about how we’re feeling, whether that’s frantic about finances or worrisome for the future, with our friends and family can alleviate some of that social pressure that might be pilling up for you. By talking about it we can help other’s understand us, and any reasons we might not want to hang out without feeling offended or shut out - which avoids that social guilt and spending pressure (win, win!).
Figure out when to say no
While we don’t want to avoid socialising or isolate ourselves entirely, we might not fancy attending some events, spending money on events that don’t serve us, or simply want to rest and recuperate. It’s ok and important to say no to those things that won’t bring us joy, will leave us regretting or worrying about the expenditure and it’s equally important to let our joy win sometimes too. There’ll be times we might feel we shouldn’t do something for the cost, but if it’s something we’ll thoroughly enjoy and we can afford to - even if it leaves us a little tighter than usual - it’s likely worth doing anyway.
It’s all about balance: but who’s surprised? Managing social pressure to spend won’t always be easy or straightforward, but it won’t always be tough to navigate. There’ll be invitations that we have to attend, that we want to attend and others we would rather swerve so do. Take it easy, be mindful of your money and keep connecting with friends, family and colleagues.