“Did you have an awesome time? Did you drink awesome shooters, listen to awesome music, and then just sit around and soak up each others’ awesomeness?” Why yes, yes we did. Well, not drink awesome shooters and listen to awesome music necessarily, but we definitely soaked up each others’ awesomeness. That’s a quote from Mean Girls, but applicable here in a way completely unrelated to its context in the movie. It’s how I feel when I hang out with my frugal friends.
How can you not bask in your awesomeness when you spend a girls’ night in playing board games and gabbing instead of going to an overpriced club? Or when you turn an otherwise pricey activity like going to the movies into a frugal night at the drive-in? When two or more Frugalists get together, it’s hard to ignore the fact that you’re just plain awesome.
I’m preaching to the choir here, I know. But just because we’re all awesome, there’s no reason we should become complacent – it’s always possible to be even more awesome. With your friend the Spender, you feel the urge to help guide her toward frugality, but with your friend the Frugalist, you’re on the same wavelength when it comes to money, so you may not feel the need to talk about it. It’s not a discussion of whether you should go out to a fancy restaurant or stay in and cook dinner – you both know where you’re going to end up eating dinner. So how can we be better?
Though we all strive to be as financially responsible as possible, we all have certain areas where we’re not doing everything we could. We also all have strong points though, and as we learn where our friends’ (and our own) weaknesses and strengths are, we can help learn from our friends’ strengths and use our own strengths to advise our friends.
Take my friend Sarah. She has strengths where I have weaknesses and I have strengths where she has weaknesses. One of my weaknesses is that I eat too fast, which means I eat too much, and that’s bad for both my health and my wallet. Sarah is the slowest eater I know. By simply eating so slowly, she recognizes when she’s full before she’s finished her whole plate. I have never seen Sarah not stretch one plate of food into two meals. When we eat together, I try to match her pace, and I always end up eating less and having leftovers. Thanks, Sarah! (But now to figure out how to remind myself to do this even when Sarah’s not around…)
One of my strengths is my housing situation, and it’s one of Sarah’s weaknesses. Granted, my extremely low rent ($500/month in the Bay Area) is due to my fiance’s frugality,* but even before I met my fiance I always made sure my rent was under $1000/month. Whether that meant sharing a house with 4 other people or finding an off-the-beaten-path apartment complex, I have always looked for the best deal possible on rent. Sarah’s rent is somewhere around $1600/month for her one bedroom apartment. It’s the one area where she is decidedly unfrugal (though that is a very typical rent for where we live). Her lease will be up soon, so we’re talking about how she can improve her housing situation. Some suggestions are to move to a neighborhood that is farther away from the ridiculously expensive city where she works, but closer to a freeway so her commute time would remain about the same, or to downsize from a one bedroom to a studio.
When you really start to get to know your friends and become close enough that you can talk about financial matters, use each other’s strengths as examples to shoot for and use your own strengths to advise your friends in areas where they may not be as frugal. And if you’re both just so perfect that there’s no way to increase your awesomeness, challenge each other to improve your health, get better results at work, or help your community. When two awesome people get together, good things can happen.
*My fiance has rented the same 3 bedroom house for about 15 years (he’s a bit older, in case you were wondering), and the house is in total disrepair due to the owner’s refusal to spend any money fixing the driveway, getting new carpets, re-shingling the roof, etc. The owner knows she would have a hard time renting the house out to anyone in its current condition, so my fiance took advantage of the situation and negotiated a lower rent, which we split down the middle.