You want to spend time with your friends this weekend. But once again, instead of your friends just hanging out in their apartment, your friend asks, “Want to go to a concert with us?”
You would love to go. But the concert costs $20, and you simply can’t afford to spend that right now. This puts you in a tough position, because you don’t want to be the friend who always rejects invitations. Eventually, you figure, you’ll stop being invited and included at all. Add a little Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) into the mix, and you feel as though your bank account is negatively impacting your college life.
Check out these tips on how to have fun on a budget.
1. Suggest something else.
Sometimes, this simply won’t work. Your friends might really want to go to a concert, and that’s fine. But if your friends keep suggesting costly activities every weekend, speak up about it. If you don’t want to bring finances into it, suggest another activity. Say one of your friends says, “Let’s go to the bar tonight!” You can say, “Hey, we go to the bar a lot. Maybe we can just stay in tonight or go somewhere else?”
2. Manage your money.
Not every student is bad at managing money, and your lack of money could likely have nothing to do with your personal finance skills. However, if you are someone who buys your coffee instead of making it, or someone who eats out every night, think about your priorities. Would you rather buy a fancy coffee drink or have money to go out with your friends? There’s no right answer, but it’s something important to consider when you’re managing your money.
3. Take advantage of free events and discounts.
On college campuses, there are many free events going on most of the time. Even campus events that aren’t free are usually discounted. Though going to a play or presentation might not seem like an exciting night out, many of these events are very inspiring or simply fun. Different on-campus organizations host events with music and food. Others show movies for free. These events might not be what first comes to your mind, but they’re worth taking advantage of.
4. Utilize apps and rewards.
There are many apps and rewards programs that will give you rewards and discounts. It’s difficult to remember to use them all the time, but handing the barista your punch-card each time your friends want to go out for coffee will eventually result in a free coffee or some sort of discount.
5. Be honest.
Talking about your financial struggles is tough, but chances are, someone in your group has similar feelings about spending so much on entertainment. If you can’t get through to your friends by suggesting other activities every once in a while, be honest. You don’t have to tell them about how much money you have or about your exact financial aid package, but you can explain that you’re concerned about how much money you’re spending, and how you feel as though it would be best if you stopped spending so much on entertainment.
6. Don’t let the FOMO get to you.
That $20 concert was probably fun, but probably not as fun as people made it look on Instagram. Though you might feel like your wallet is limiting you, there are many ways to have fun without spending money. Remember that you’re only seeing select snapshots of people’s lives; you don’t know what’s going on beneath that. An Instagram photo wouldn’t tell you that someone saved up all of their money to be able to afford that concert ticket. Remember that you’re not alone, and you can have an amazing time just sitting in your apartment with your friends, sharing funny stories and talking about anything and everything.
7. Seek adventure.
Go somewhere you’ve never gone before. You know that art gallery across from your apartment that you always ignored? Check out the latest exhibit. Remember that community event you almost went to that one time? Actually go this time. There is so much to do when you look beyond the expectations of “typical college life”. Go to a cultural celebration. Take a walk through the park. Say “yes” when your friend invites you to her on-campus organization’s social. Often times, the most memorable moments come from doing the simplest things, just being around people you like spending time with. Having fun doesn’t have to be spending a bunch of money at the bar every weekend. Having fun can be whatever is fun for you, and whatever fits within your budget.
Money doesn’t necessarily buy an entertaining night. Money doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have fun. And you can’t ensure that you have fun every single night, either. But if you embrace the opportunities around you, you can have a great time without it negatively impacting your finances.