A friend of mine, getting married soon, scheduled a small, informal last-minute bachelorette party as a farewell to singledom and, presumably, the wild life that defined our 20s. As we edge closer to our 30s, we all seem to be calming down and reprioritizing — trading in the hottest parties and clubs for serious relationships and mortgages. Which, clearly, is great… but it sure makes us wistful for more “youthful” times.
So, when bride-to-be Liz suggested to my friend Meredith and I that the three of us get together, grab a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant and then dance the night away, we were psyched… until we remembered how much we tend to complain about having no money to spend because one of us is saving up for laser eye surgery and the other (well, me) is pooling dosh for a deposit on a condo. Liz’s impromptu girls’ night out put us in a financial dilemma: Do we stay home or do we go out?
When I was younger, having just settled into my first job and new apartment, I said Yes to every event. I was always the girl in the group who was up for anything (preferably, cool fashion or industry events) when others were ready to call it a night. Today, I tell people that I was suffering from an undiagnosed condition that I’ll call Fear of Missing Out. Certain fears can cost you; this one, I think, did.
At the height of my fear-of-missing-out phase, I went out about four or five nights per week, always afraid that if I turned down an invitation to yet another “party of the year,” maybe, just maybe, I’d miss that golden moment — you know, the moment where you (finally!) meet the love of your life, or bump into an executive in your dream industry who’s dazzled by your brilliance and hires you on the spot for a top position, etc., etc. You get the point. You’ve been there too.
I continued to go out, no matter how tired I was, not to mention the fact that this “networking” was costing me hundreds of dollars a week: drinks, outfits, cabs and of course, the most expensive thing, trying to keep up with the scenesters. (If you’re not familiar with this, lucky you — it involves buying each other rounds of drink and making sure you’re just as stylish as (preferably more than) everyone else. In a previous post, I discussed getting into thousands and thousands of dollars in debt; this was how I got there.
Are you the type of person that finds it difficult to say No to friends? To going out? To spending money you really can’t afford on drinks, clothes and cabs? Are you afraid you’re passing up what could be possibly the best night of your life by staying in and reading a good book instead? If so, remind yourself of the following three things:
Real opportunities can require money — so save up!
Being responsible with your spending means sometimes staying in for the night to save a buck. When you do go out, the last thing you want is to turn down an audition in L.A. because you can’t afford the plane ticket. Am I right, or am I right?
Whenever possible, leave events early
If you’re broke and you absolutely cannot miss Party X, then show up, scope the scene, have one drink and socialize effieciently. Sross the event off of your “been there” list without having spent a full night’s worth of coin.
Prioritize your partying
Do you really need to check out that ” hot” concert tonight when your best friend’s birthday is this weekend? If you only have the budget for X-number of events this month, make sure you put your spending where it really matters to you in life.
The key here is to realize that prioritizing how you spend your time helps you maximize return (quality time with friends, family, networking). In the long term it’s infinitely more rewarding than constantly going out and spending money on events, things and people that you are not passionate about.
As for my friend’s last minute stagette party, she ultimately decided on a girls’ night in: wine, popcorn and chick flicks — a more economically viable solution for everyone. After all, the whole point was to spend quality time with friends before the big day; you don’t need money for that.
Written by M. Alice Allen