How to Maintain a Social Life While Aiming for FI

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happy hour

The journey to financial independence isn’t for everyone. Convincing someone to save half their income isn’t always the most appealing, it would go against everything they have ever known. We are taught a 10% savings rate is ideal so why go above that? We are taught to retire at 67, it’s not attainable or sustainable to retire at any age before then.

So now that we decided to dramatically increase our savings rate, how is it possible to still maintain a social life? Usually, a social life requires money, the money you’re supposed to save. I understand that maintaining a social life may not be a goal for everyone in the FI community but it was always part of ours. We both have a large circle of friends and we cherish those relationships. However, wanting to avoid spending money doesn’t always align with that goal. Most of our friends are looking to go out for drinks or go to a movie.

We’ve been on this journey for over a year now and have continued to keep our friendships strong. We have, however, had to make some adjustments. Adjustments that aren’t necessarily aligned with our friends’ goals but they work!

Nights in/board game nights!

I am the first to raise my hand to have a night in with friends. Our home is always open for others to enjoy and we welcome their company. What’s better than a board game night? You get to comfortably stay home and just enjoy each other company. The nights are always a hit and we always get a good turnout. Come on, would you rather shout at each other at a bar or hang out on the couch in comfortable pants! We are lucky, most of our friends are in long term relationships so the desire for a big night out is minimal. Just this month a group of 10 of us stayed in playing Secret Hitler till 2 am and we already have a second night planned!

Some other great group games are Pandemic, Code Names, and Catan. These are always in rotation in our house. Oh, and who can forget about Catch Phrase!

Overall, the night cost us $30 for some extra food and a bottle of wine. $30 well spent. And the best part, we didn’t need a babysitter!

Lunch Specials/Happy Hour

One of the best ways to save money is to treat going out like you do food shopping, get what’s on sale. This is usually something you can achieve with a solid happy hour. You can’t go wrong with 2 beers and an appetizer for $15! Take advantage of weekday sales can really help the wallet and save some money.

However, life happens and you can’t always make it so you’re going out on a weeknight. There’s usually still some type of drink or dinner/ food special. Ask the server/bartender, you never know what they might have

Never Go Out Hungry!

D and I usually try to eat before we go out to avoid overindulging and ordering two meals and appetizers when we go out. Of course, when we are going out to dinner for a special occasion that’s a different story but if we’re going out in a group setting we usually try to eat less. We try to share a meal or maybe just get one appetizer to satisfy ourselves or help with any cravings.


What’s better than a BYOB restaurant? Does this exist everywhere? They are my absolute favorite life hack! Getting a glass of wine at a restaurant is easily $7-15. Going to a BYOB restaurant means you bring your own BOTTLE of wine and you can control the pricing. Mind you, it’s not only wine, but you can also bring whatever your drink of choice is. I don’t know about you but drinks are always what brings our bill from a reasonable dinner to an extremely expensive dinner. If you live in an area with BYOB as an option take full advantage of it. My Yelp is practically already set to only look for BYOB restaurants.

Ask for a Separate Check

Honestly, I wasn’t the biggest fan of doing this but I’m getting better at it. Have you ever gone out and you see someone order 10 Jameson’s on a shared tab when you only got a Bud Light. It hurts when you get the bill and it’s expected that everyone split it. Why am I financing Bob’s expensive taste? Yeah, we mostly don’t do that anymore. If you set the tone at the beginning of the meal that you need a separate check it’s not that big of a deal.

I sometimes get uncomfortable doing this because although we are trying to save tons of money, I don’t want to come off as cheap. But why would it? When we go out, everyone should fully expect to fully finance their own spend. Of course, I’ll split the cost of the birthday guy/gal but I’m not paying for someone else to have a filet mignon when I’m having a burger. This weekend I am actually going out for a girl’s night to celebrate my best friends birthday. I’ll happily buy her meal and my own but that’s about it, everyone else can pay their own way.

Add Going Out to Your Budget

We keep a separate line item for our “miscellaneous” spend. This includes outings with friends, special dinners for us and extra purchases. We adjust it each month depending on how many events there are coming up. It’s usually safe to say that you can plan ahead with these types of events. Staying ahead of the cost always makes the spending a little easier.

Overall, your friends should be understanding of your financial goals. There should never be judgment for frugality. Usually, they are just happy that you are there not how much money you spend. Personally, we don’t share too often that we are on this journey but we do share that we are trying to be more cautious with our spending.


4 thoughts on “How to Maintain a Social Life While Aiming for FI”

  1. Wow! I have never heard of these BYOB restaurants. I just looked it up on Yelp though and there are several in our area! Thanks for the great tips. Do the restaurants in your area still have a corkage fee?

    1. I’m happy you will be able to take advantage of them, that’s awesome! Corkage fees are certainly around but definitely uncommon…thankfully.

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