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How to Balance Your Friends and Your Checkbook

how to balance checkbook

Recently, one of my friends asked if I wanted to go to a Miley Cyrus concert. While I’m sure the experience would be insane, it’s hardly something I wanted to drop more than $50 on, as I’m less of a fan and more of a bemused bystander. Even when it comes to artists we love, it can be hard to say no, despite ticket prices that sometimes hit hundreds of dollars (looking at you, T. Swift).

The problem with not being able to afford things like concerts, brunch, and copious amounts of alcohol is that the alternatives can seem pretty terrible. For example: instead of going to a concert, you stay home on your couch and watch episodes of SVU in the dark while gnawing away at cold Chinese food, imagining all of your friends bouncing around to The Weekend.

At it’s worst, it can feel like a punishment for being financially responsible and having a budget!

Fortunately, you don’t need to have money to have fun, and there are actually some really great alternatives out there that will keep you, your friends, and your bank account happy. If your friends want to do something that doesn’t fit into your budget, here are some alternatives you can suggest.

If your friends want to get dinner and drinks…

Potluck dinners – they’re not just school and church fundraisers anymore! One of your friends does the meat, another makes a vegetable dish, maybe another bakes a cake. Everyone gets a full meal, plus you get to compliment each other on your cooking abilities. Best part? No need to tip.

If the weather is nice, modify the above idea and turn it into a picnic lunch. Someone just needs to bring an appropriate blanket.

What about a DIY wine and beer tasting? Except you don’t spit out the alcohol at the end. Instead of paying upwards a ridiculous amount for a single drink at the bar, everyone chips in on six packs and bottles from the liquor store. The only negative part is not being able to flirt with the bartender for free drinks.

If your friends want to go to a concert or other event…

It seems like every concert is filmed on someone’s iPhone nowadays, and while that’s hardly a replacement for actually going to the concert, you can get creative with it. What about playing concert vids on the TV while your laptop blasts the studio versions of their best songs? You get to choose the playlist and you don’t have to deal with hundreds of other people elbowing their way to the front.

Instead of spending way too much on movie tickets and popcorn, consider a Netflix movie marathon at home. Pick out the movies ahead of time – maybe a documentary theme, or horror movies – grab some microwave popcorn (with extra butter) from the grocery store, and text your friends!

Everyone has that one friend that always talks about how much they want to play Monopoly or Settlers of Catan or some other classic board game. Make them put their money where their mouth is and host a board game night! You might be surprised by just how much fun you all have. Same goes for a video game tournament. My friends love a little competitive Mario Kart or Super Smash Brothers.

And if all else fails…

Go outside! There’s so much to do in nature: hikes, swimming, a pickup game of soccer or extreme frisbee. Or grab some bikes and take a loop around town or the park. Steal your dad’s old camping gear and take a weekend trip to the woods. Not only is it cheap, but getting outside is healthy, too.

You should also be on the lookout for free events in your city or town. Free zoo days, free museum days, and free concerts are things that almost everyone can get behind. (Seriously – you may need to stake your spot a few days in advance.)

What are your favorite cheap activities to do with friends? Let us know in the comments.

About Adam Cecil

Adam Cecil is a Staff Writer for PolicyGenius, a consumer digital insurance company, and specializes in making sense of personal finance and insurance for the millennial audience. He's a graduate of New York University and has a B.F.A. in Dramatic Writing.

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