How to Tell Your Friends You Are On a Budget Without Committing Social Suicide

You know, I have written a lot of posts trying to help people improve their finances, pay off debt and build savings. One thing I haven’t talked about is how to tell your friends. So often, these little areas are over-looked and they shouldn’t be. When we were in the middle of debt payoff, I hated telling my friends I was on a budget. Turning down a night out to stay home and eat leftovers was not awesome. Side note: being debt free is awesome. So how do you survive the social awkward-ness of being on a budget? How do you tell your friends you’re on a budget?

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Budgeting stinks sometimes

There is a major stigma around budgeting. Famous financial gurus like Rachel Cruz say things like, “the budget is permission to spend!” She’s so right. A budget is so helpful. It can help you meet your goals and still give yourself “fun money” to spend.

But a budget can also totally stink.

When you’ve had a long, hard week and your car broke down, your boss was a jerk and the last thing you want to do is make dinner, it can be so tempting to go off budget and grab a pizza.

Check out my Fun Sized Budget Bundle.

No budget = cool kids table

If your friends shoot out a message encouraging everyone to come to Happy Hour, it can feel like high school all over again. Having to tell your friends you’re on a budget, or saying, “sorry, I can’t,” 😭 can feel like the equivalent of turning down the quarterback because you promised the chess club captain you’d go to prom with him.

Then the pictures hit Instagram or Facebook (depending on how old you are 😂) and you feel crappy all over again.

Not to mention people’s awesome vacation photos or the neighbor’s new car that doesn’t have that permanent rattling sound.

No matter what the struggle, there are those days when you are probably going to feel alienated because you have a budget to stick to.

Budget = full ride to Harvard

If we’re sticking to the stereotypical high school metaphors here, then just remember, sitting at the nerd table for 4 years should yield some pretty major real-world benefits.

Life after high school is usually all jobs at the car wash and AA meetings when you’re one of the cool kids. (Again, in your typical Hollywood rendition.)

So remember, when you’re being disciplined and sticking to that pain in the butt budget, it only means you’ll be rewarded when you’re finally at the end of the tunnel!

Clever ways to say, “I’m on a budget.”

There are some major no no’s when it comes to life on a budget. Those no no’s are all about the way you tell your friends you’re on a budget.

Don’t say:

  • I’m too poor
  • I have no money
  • Sorry, I’m busy
  • Ugh if only my boss would pay me more
  • My partner won’t let me

All of these things are lies. You are not poor, you do have money and if you’re not busy, don’t say it. Don’t blame your boss and definitely don’t blame your spouse.

You and your spouse should be working together to create a budget that works for both of you. If that’s the case, this isn’t his or her fault. Throwing them under the bus is definitely not the way to go.

Say this instead:

  • Sorry, it’s not in the budget 🤓
  • I’m spending my money on other things this month
  • I can’t go out tonight. Can we set up a time for you guys to do dinner here?
  • I’m not going to drink, but I’ll stop by!

First of all, don’t be ashamed of your budget. Chances are, you might have friends start coming to you for financial advice. Especially if you start up a blog and talk about it all over social media. 🤪

My favorite way of saying no to going out is to remind myself that I do have money, I’m just choosing to use it more intentionally.

Plan a night for friends to come over instead. You can plan on it, budget for it and save yourself some major moola by having a dinner at your place.

And heck, whose to say you can’t go casually sip a glass of water with a lime while they all enjoy Happy Hour? You get to socialize, save your body the toxins, keep your budget in tact and maybe offer a ride home to a friend who sips too much.

Other posts you’ll love:

Don't worry, there is a way to avoid social suicide and still tell your friends you're on a budget and can't go out tonight. I got your back.
You have money, you’re just spending it on something else!

How to have fun on a budget

Besides just watching everyone else enjoy themselves, there are major ways that you can still have fun on a budget.

Find free things

The first place to start is Google. Search for local, fun, free things to do near you. Chances are there are a ton of things going on that you would otherwise not get the chance to enjoy.

Set up a game night

I don’t know about you, but game nights are a hoot. Have people over. Chips, dip and a case of beer is a lot cheaper than 2 hours at a bar, I’ll tell you that much.

You can do board games, yard games or have a fire in the backyard. There are so many ways to stay entertained right in your own backyard (literally).

Get outdoors

One of the best things to do for free is go to the lake, or explore the local nature paths and walking trails. Sure, it’ll cost you a little in gas. Ultimately you get outside, you get fresh air and exercise and can enjoy everything for next to nothing.

Sneaky ways to go out like a cheap skate

Ok, now there are definitely ways (that aren’t totally free or lame) that allow you to go out, have a good time, and still be within your “fun money” budget.

Can we say Groupon?

Groupon is an amazing place to browse local discounted things to do in your area. You can find things like breweries, wineries, bowling, golf, laser tag, group classes, and even affordable getaways!

Want to save even more on Groupon? Purchase Groupons through Ebates or Ibotta. Both of these savings apps link up to Groupon and give you money back around 5%. It might not be a big savings, but every little bit adds up!

Plus, both of these apps actually give you free money when you sign up!

Get discounted restaurant gift cards

My favorite place to go for out to eat discounts is Restaurant.com. You can find local restaurants in your area that have $25 gift cards for only $10! This is such an awesome way to cut your out-to-eat expenses in half!

Search discounted gift cards near you.

Earn gift cards for FREE

So you can take advantage of discounts and savings, or you can straight up earn gift cards for free.

There are survey sites that you can partake in that allow you to earn gift cards just by giving your opinion.

Stick to your budget

Just remember, even when the days get long and the budget feels small, stick to it. There is so much freedom in having a budget that is working to benefit you financially.

Keep your long term goals in mind and if you’ve got a solid group of friends, they will support you no matter what!

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Don't worry, there is a way to avoid social suicide and still tell your friends you're on a budget and can't go out tonight. I got your back.

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