Revamping Your Budget - Did You Lose Friends Too?

Updated on August 09, 2011
K.R. asks from Petersburg, IL
20 answers

My husband and I are on the road (we hope!) to becoming debt free. I am finding I feel distant from my friends and family though, as I am unable to meet my friends for lunch or go get our nails done, etc. I understand there are free things to do, but come on, most fun things are not free! If I do the budget the way we want to, it only leaves a little money for the family and I to dine out once or twice a month, and leaves little else to play with. If we follow our budget strictly, we have very little money to travel to see family as well.

So, my question is, did you find you felt distant from your friends and/or lost friendships due to your lack of ability to participate in so many functions?

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So What Happened?

Denise - oh goodness no. I woulnd't use a credit card for something like a manicure. The point is, we are doing a budget and if we want to pay off debt, there is little room in there for nails.

More Answers


answers from Richmond on

My BFF and her husband have millions... but they don't act like they do. She is a TRUE friend... they know that we can't go to Busch Gardens every other weekend, or go to Jamaica with them, or eat out every night... so we do a lot of at-home BBQs and going to the river, free or super cheap stuff :)

So while there are people who disappear when the going gets rough, the REAL friends stick around. Everyone else wasn't worth your time anyway ;)

Congrats on becoming debt free :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

One word: Potlucks.

Food you were going to be eating anyway, with people bringing food they were eating anyway. All on the same table.

When I had zero cash for anything else, we formed a BBQ society with our friends in the summer, and soup in the winter.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think it's twofold. 1) That you should consider budgeting for appropriate trips to see family and 2) you need to explain to people that it's not that you're being cheap or don't want to see them but that you're trying to improve your situation by being more financially responsible. 3) You can suggest outings and invite people where you can afford the activity, like a pot luck picnic.

My family lives 2 hours away, but I can save nearly $10 in tolls if I spend a little more time on the road. And then if I spend the night with my family, I get more time and save money because I'm not renting a hotel room. Instead of dining out that week or month, we'd "dine in" with my mom. Not that I am a mooch on her, but she likes to host us and we all get a bit of what we need/want.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Honestly? No. We have always done what we can afford to do- nothing on credit cards. Our friends who have chosen to live beyond their means (nothing in savings) do what they want and we join them when we can. Most times, we invite people to come to our home for dinner and include their children. Even ordering Chinese for 10 people when no one needs a sitter is cheaper than a dinner out for two of us (not including the sitter)!

Many of our friends live the way we do, so we have lots of dinner parties at people's homes. It's still fun & social, but it doesn't cost a fortune. We rotate houses and everyone brings something.

Follow your budget strictly. Visit your family when you can, but remember that they can visit you too! You don't have to go "out" to see your friends... start inviting them to come over and when they ask if they can bring something, say "Yes!"

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

First, congrats on going debt free! We pay cash for everything, no credit cards at all. I have noticed a difference in what we do now with friends. Mostly meet them once a month for an early movie on Saturday before noon (tickets are only $5). We also have pool parties, dominoe parties and movie nights at our house with friends and ask everyone to bring a dish. So I think your friends don't have to change, just the activities that you do with them. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

I'm doing the same thing you are and yes, it's a little "weird". Not sure why but maybe because others are usually so private about money issues and we're out there saying "I can't afford this or that". Maybe it makes people defensive in some way. Anyway, you're not alone. I've noticed it too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I agree that REAL friends will understand and find ways to spend time with you without "hurting" your new budget. If I cannot afford something, I tell my friends that it just isn't in the budget or I make a suggestion to do something else. You may find that you feel a bit distant because of the amount of time that may go by between visits, but try to keep in contact by email, FB or phone chats. Friends shouldn't need to do the "fun" stuff in order stay your friend. In fact my best friend and I RARELY do any of the "fun" stuff you mentioned....we usually just spend time with each other at our homes watching a movie or just chatting the day away!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Congratulations on getting this going. My husband and I have been debt free since 2006, and it is a wonderful feeling. We don't always have all the money we'd like to do everything we think of (see my most recent question), but the peace of mind is something that can't be beat.

Get creative! Meet the family for an potluck picnic at an open-air concert once the heat wave is over - my town has these every Friday during the summer. Go to a lake or river, go to a state park. Have your friends over for a manicure/pedicure night at home, where you do each other's feet! This is more fun if your husband is out of town that night. Host a game night. Find out when/where the free film screenings are happening.

You shouldn't lose friends over this, and if you do...they weren't real friends to begin with. Be gentle with them though...they may come crawling back for advice when you guys are debt-free and they hit the wall with their debt-accumulating ways.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My friends would never abandon me for not being able to participate in fact they would help find alternate options so we can do stuff. But I would think that aquaintnances probably wouldn't be as understanding, but then again I doubt I would go into detail about my financial business.

I second potlucks. Can you rotate homes once a month? Ask your friends to encourage you, so rather than meeting for lunch at a restaurant go to a park for a picnic. Or you can have dinner at home & just meet up & share a desert. These are things that my friends & I do & it does work great.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Sweet*tooth*, were paying for those lunches and mani's on a credit card?
You're better off.
Dave Ramsay: "You've got to live like NO O. else, to live like no O. else!

Good for you for being dedicated to paying off all debt.
It won't take long before you see a little wiggle room as those balances disappear. Then you will be able to do WHAT you want, WHEN you want. Hang tough!

ETA: Whoops! Sorry, I didn't actually answer your question. But no, I don't think we lost friends.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I can understand your dilemma. I have lots of friends that are "go to lunch" friends. When I started on a strict diet and restaurants were a challenge, I didnt see them as much. It took a lot of extra effort on my part to invite them to different things like for a cup of coffee at McDs or a walk around the neighborhood.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I COMPLETELY understand! My husband and I are also on that road to being debt-free. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go since we were pretty dumb while we had 2 incomes and are paying the price (literally) now.

That being said, I've had very frank conversations about our debt-epiphany with our families so that they fully understand our commitment to our financial future. We even had to cancel a vacation with my SIL & BIL because we simply didn't have the cash to finance it without a credit card--and that wasn't an option. And for family get-togethers, we've made them potluck occasions instead of dinners out. Quite frankly, that's better for all of us financially and healthwise, too!

With my closest friends, I've also spoken very frankly about our debt situation and our enlightenment to get out. Not really to tell them "I can't go out because I have no money..." but more in a manner of letting them know what's going on in my life and this budgeting stuff is a BIG part of it right now! More like "So, have you read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover book? Dear husband and I both did and wow, did it open our eyes to make some changes. Man, this budgeting thing is hard! I sure wish we had more $$ to do the stuff we used to do, but we're committed to following through on this. Next time we get together, what activities can we do instead of what we normally do that might fit better into our budget? Maybe I can save up to do X, Y or Z if we plan ahead enough."

With my closest friends, they've been extremely supportive. Our families, too. We all recognize that using money we don't have (i.e. credit cards) isn't a good idea. If these people are really your friends, they'll understand. And if they ever ask what you want for your birthday or Christmas, suggest gift cards to your favorite restaurants/bars so that you can meet them for dinner/drinks! Saying no to invitations can be really tough, but if they're aware of the path you're on, they'll understand. You could even invite them over for a casual dinner in exchange for your "no" to their invitation.

It's hard, but remember, this is TEMPORARY pain for long-term success!! It won't last forever, even though sometimes it might feel like it.

Best of luck to you in following through and getting debt-free!

(are you doing the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover? Just curious.)



answers from New York on

I arrange my life and living around the things I want to do. I actually make extra money doing side odd jobs along the way. Some of that money is saved but some of it is just for fun. So is there any hidden or not so hidden talent you have that can reap you huge rewards?

There is not crime in using the credit card to get your nails done. Just apply the money you earn for the nails to be done to the bill before it comes in. The credit card company will always accept a payment at any time of the month.



answers from Chicago on

We didn't have a problem with friends or family. The hardest thing was training ourselves to say no to invitations to costly outings and then knowing that we were missing out on the fun sometimes. But we always encouraged our friends to still do what they wanted to do, and then we'd invite people to do "cheap" or free stuff, so that we still got to see them sometimes. Everyone in our circles was very understanding whenever we'd explain that it just wasn't in our budget right now.



answers from Fargo on

Good for you for becoming debt free! We have never revamped our budget, but I would hope that your friends wouldn't be so shallow to abandon you because you can't do lunches.

I have several friends who are on a tight budget. Instead of going out to eat, we meet in a nice park or the wonderful courtyard in our downtown area and everyone brings their lunch. Some bring food from restaurants and some bring food from home.
We have walking dates instead of salon dates or do "spa night" and everyone brings a lotion, scrub or nail color to share.

You don't have to halt the fun, YOU can be the creative one in your bunch! :) They will be surprised to find out how much fun you can have on so little money.

I wish you the BEST of luck!


answers from St. Louis on

You just have to be creative. Have your friend over, let the kids play. Make drinks at home or snacks, something like that. Your friends will think hey, cool idea, I will get it next time. Hopefully your friends realize this is cheaper than girls night out, ya know?

Most people are in the same boat or at least would love saving where they can.



answers from New York on

We actually became closer to some of our friends. Rather than going out to eat, we would get together at each others houses and have family meals. Are you sure that these friends couldn't use a financial break, by having a home cooked meal, rather than going out? Invite the family over, fire up the grill, you supply the burgers and ask them to bring a side a dish.

My BFF and I don't meet for lunch. We meet to color each others hair.



answers from Chicago on

It happened to us. We lost our home to foreclosure a few years ago. We put ourselves on a really strict budget. that included very little in the way of extras. what I did find though was that part of the distance was distance we ourselves imposed because we just assumed that our friends would not want to do "free" "cheap" things. that was in fact not the case with some of our friends. the ones who wanted only to do expensive things have pretty much been replaced with real friends. those would be the ones who wanted see us whether it was playing cards and eating popcorn or going to a fancy out deal. so make sure you don't distance yourself



answers from Kansas City on

My friends and I are all pretty frugal. My favorite night of the week is craft night, we all get together on Thursday nights at one of our houses and work on whatever craft we're working on (we don't do them together, just work on our own stuff, most of the time. Sometimes some of the girls will scrapbook together) and gab. It's super fun, and only costs a bit of gas and usually nothing else, since we work on whatever we're already working on.



answers from Dallas on

we started eating at home. i learned to cook. we stoppped traveling and the cousins don't even send christmas cards, but they could email or skype.
those who want to be in relationship with us are. they drifted off but we were doing all the work anyway.

some started not inviting us out to eat because we would not go. the close friends still come around.

being debt free is worth it. we have peace and when both a/cs went out, we could afford to fix them both without waiting.

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