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how do you balance eating out and frugality?

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The other night we all went out for a celebratory company paid meal, bookended by drinks in the pub paid for by ourselves. I think I got home before 3 in the morning, and I wasn’t the last person to leave, so you can imagine that it was a bit of a session.

This was a Thursday night, so the next day most of us were slightly the worse for wear. At lunchtime, one of my colleagues suggested that we go out for lunch to help get over our hangovers, the idea was to go to Nandos for a meal where the typical price is £7.50 per head ($15 or so).

This was an unusual occurrence because it was so impromptu. Normally these sorts of things are slightly more planned. As I’m not naturally a very sociable person, (I’m ridiculously introverted in on the MBTI test) I err on the side of socialising rather than not socialising and so I went. It used to be the case that whenever I was ambivalent about socialising, I wouldn’t bother, but since I’m almost always ambivalent, that wasn’t working out.

I feel a bit guilty about going out for lunch. I didn’t really need to go especially as I’d eaten out the night before for free, and it wasn’t really cheap. I’m not very good at being frugal, and I sort of feel obliged to make more of an effort now that I’m a personal finance blogger.

What do you do in these sorts of circumstances? How do you balance frugality with a social life?

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11 comments for “how do you balance eating out and frugality?”

  1. It used to be the case that whenever I was ambivalent about socialising, I wouldn’t bother, but since I’m almost always ambivalent, that wasn’t working out.

    Ouch! That was a bit close to home for me.

    Posted by debtdieter | December 11, 2007, 11:29 pm
  2. We don’t normally do it more than once a month. Often less. Our motivation tends to be doing something nice with friends. And we consider alternatives like a nice dinner at our place (cheaper for us overall, even though we pay for the ingredients).

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | December 11, 2007, 11:38 pm
  3. @debtdieter:
    At least I feel better that I’m not the only one.

    @Mrs. Micah:
    I guess it helps that there are two of you. I haven’t actually ever had anyone over to my place. Like I say, I’m a strong introvert, I need my own space.

    Posted by plonkee | December 11, 2007, 11:52 pm
  4. Being frugal means a lot of different things to different people.

    Whatever your level of frugality, set a budget, and stick to it. If someone brings up a good idea, and it fits your budget, then you can do it, otherwise you can’t.

    It makes decisions pretty simple… as long as you are budgeting seriously.

    Over time, based on your progress towards your goals, you can tighten or loosen your wallet a bit by adjusting your budget.

    Posted by Frugal Guy | December 12, 2007, 2:49 am
  5. It’s exactly what you said, Plonkee, a balance.

    With close friends we’re pretty frugal, and they normally are too. We do potlucks, or take turns hosting a meal at home, or go out somewhere cheap.

    Our parents won’t let an evening out be frugal, but since they always insist on paying, it’s frugal for us. Mmm, free steak and/or seafood.

    For coworkers, I try to spend as little as possible while maintaining or expanding my business relationships. So yes, this does mean I’m occasionally heading out to lunch or for drinks (non-alcoholic currently, sob!)after work, but most of the places we end up have fairly reasonable choices on the menu.

    As Mrs. Micah said, figure out what your budget can afford, stay within it, and you’ll be fine.

    Posted by Fecundity | December 12, 2007, 10:08 pm
  6. One of my more successful endeavours of the last year was suggesting to TPTB at work that the company credit card should be used for our team-building drinkies. I just try to be responsible and not let several dozen shots sneak on the bill.

    Hey what? It’s tax deductible for them!

    Posted by guinness416 | December 13, 2007, 12:07 am
  7. The company paying is always a good choice for me too. And I know that they don’t want to pay more tax.

    Posted by plonkee | December 13, 2007, 12:15 am
  8. I balance it by budgeting for it :) I KNOW that no matter how many lattes and frivolous ebay purchases I cut from my daily life, I will always want to socialize sometimes, and do it properly, and enjoy myself. So when I paid off most of my debt and started living with (some) money for me again, I decided that frugal or no frugal, some money had to go to me for fun.

    I have a separate checking account for “fun money” and it gets 5% of my paycheck. I’m already giving my full to my IRA every year, I have an emergency fund saved up and another savings in risky mutual funds, etc.. That 5% usually buys one manicure with my friends and a night out drinking or a nice dinner. I don’t go out THAT much, once or twice a month, and that money covers it. The money that doesn’t automatically go to the money market, emergency savings, or retirement goes into my checking to pay bills. Whatever’s left over goes to savings and to extra fun on top of the automatic “fun money.”

    Posted by Shanti | December 13, 2007, 7:56 am
  9. Like dieting, budgeting requires a little flexibility and forgiveness. You *can* splurge once in a while (even going outside the budget), as long as it’s actually *once in a while*. And if you do it, you do it, and that’s that. No need to worry over it, get upset about it, whatever. What’s done is done. If anything, it makes you come back to your budget with a vengeance (hmmm, now I have the inklings of a new post).

    One thing I’ve done is if I do spend unexpectedly, I tighten something else up. The inconvenience of that is usually enough to make me think twice next time.

    But whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up about it. That doesn’t do anyone any good.

    Posted by deepali | December 21, 2007, 6:19 pm

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