Is It Possible To Be Young And Frugal And Still Have A Vibrant Social Life?

14 03 2008

Mathematically being young and frugal makes a great deal of sense; save as much as you can now, and let the compounding interest build up over the course of your life. 

In theory if I were to invest $50,000 in a decent mutual fund at the age of 23, assuming it earns at least 10% a year (slightly less than the historical average of the stock market), I would have $2,262,962.00 by the time I’m 65.  That sounds great, and the numbers don’t lie, however it’s not that easy.

Achieving this goal, while feasible, means that we need to continue living the way we are now (very frugally) and save for over two more years before we would be back in good financial shape to buy a house.  We could do it, but it wouldn’t be fun, and we are already committed to the house.  

The fact of the matter is that being young and frugal comes with many opportunity costs; the biggest being a social life.  Personally, it’s in my nature to not be able to rationalize going out to bars and paying big bucks for a drink I can make at home for a fraction of the price.  Plus I’m not a big fan of loud crowded spaces.  I do however love hanging out with friends and meeting new people…who doesn’t?

In college I hated going out to bars, I would much rather have hung out with a few of my roommates or thrown a party at our house than go out.  As a bonus we would host the parties, charge a cover to get in, drink for free all night, and have money left over to pocket or pay the resulting tickets.  It was a pretty good setup :)…until we lost about 80% of our deposit when we moved out.  

I know there are always alternatives to going out to bars, but for the most part, when you are hanging out with friends, meeting new people, or even networking you will most likely be doing so while spending money.  Whether it be at a bar, a movie, the golf course, or over dinner, you’ll be spending money.  It’s called social spending, and it’s a fact of being social.

To be honest, this aspect of being young and frugal is less than fun.  It especially sucks in the office because everyone I work with goes out for lunch at least 3 times a week.  The frugal train of thought on this is to take your lunch to work and it will save you a ton of money, so this is what I do, and it does save a great deal of money.  On the flip side, I’m certain that I am missing out on a great deal of good networking (and the male bonding) that comes with going out to eat with the guys.  Also, I’m wondering if my being social with my bosses at lunch could have an effect on an increase in my salary, thus offsetting going out to lunch.

Mary and I have kept room in our food budget for us to each go out to lunch with our co-workers once a week.  At the time we set the budget it was a reasonable expectation, and while it is a reasonable expectation, it’s getting to the point where I feel bad telling them I won’t be going to lunch today.  I love that I am always invited, but I know that there becomes a point where you are turned down so much that you don’t ask anymore. I’m hoping that I am not approaching this point.

Outside of work it’s hard for us to make new friends right now because of our extreme frugality and location (both will hopefully only be around for the 2-3 more months).  We live 45 minutes away from work, and we are more than 45 minutes away from “uptown” where any sort of nightlife in Dallas occurs.  On top of that all of our childhood friends from the area no longer live here!

So with all this, is it possible to live frugal and still have a vibrant social life?  I’m sure it probably is, but for Mary and I, and our extreme situation, it seems that we have struck out.  Our saving for our house and preparing to be house poor is strike one, our current location is strike two, and being married seems to be strike three because all of our peers are still single. 

I am more than open to suggestions on how get our social lives back on track while still living frugally, so if you have any please post them in the comments section. I’d love to hear what you have to say!

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2 responses

18 03 2008
Ron

Trying to be frugal in a city the size of Dallas can be daunting enough with the commute and the huge array of restaurants and bars. I’m not sure I can help you with the social aspect other than to suggest that you get involved with a Dave Ramsey FPU group or start an investment club of your own.

I love the city of Dallas, though.

18 03 2008
danielb

Thanks Ron. Dallas is a big city that it IS hard to be frugal in. I love Dallas, but the mentality in Dallas is “spend spend spend.”

I’ve something along the lines of an investment club that has been on the backburner, but I do want to start working on it again.

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