It’s hard to be social during stacking season, the time of the year when you’re trying to stack your paper and save money. For me, it feels like the moment I commit to a savings goal, a flood of invitations slide into my inbox.
Birthday dinners. Vacation plans. Shopping trips. Happy hours. The works.
It can be difficult to know where the line is. When to say yes, and when to say no. When I first started working after college, I was on a strict budget.
I had $60 for grocery shopping each week, $30 for gas, and about $40 for any and everything else. Most of my $40 “treat yourself” budget went towards hair and beauty products. Those bottles of mascara and lotion add up!
At first, I tried to say yes to every invitation, ignoring the fact that it wasn’t in my budget. I found myself at dinners and on trips that I couldn’t afford. I broke out the good ol’ credit card thinking that $20 here and $40 here wasn’t too bad. But, it added up and I found myself even more stressed.
Next, I tried declining invitations. Despite really wanting to go, I said declined invitations, often feeling guilty for saying no. I’ve always said I never wanted to let money hold me back from doing what I wanted to do. But, this felt different and I felt trapped within my financial situation.
Neither of these options felt right to me. I knew there had to be a way for me to hang out with my friends, without inflicting financial harm on myself. I was right. You CAN still have sista-sista time during stacking season. It’s possible to maintain your social life while working towards your financial goals.
What’s the secret, you ask?
Suggesting free, alternative, DIY activities.
I had to find new ways of hanging out with my friends that didn’t always involve spending money. I found that there are TONS of things to do that don’t involve going out and dropping $50. Here’s what I learned.
It’s Okay To Be Honest With Your Friends about Your Financial Season
When I first started working, I didn’t feel comfortable telling my friends about my financial situation. I was slightly embarrassed that I wasn’t making more and didn’t like admitting that something wasn’t in my budget.
Then, one day, I stopped feeling embarrassed and decided to own my truth. The truth is, I was trying to stack my paper but my funds weren’t yet where I wanted them to be. So, I started being honest with my friends. It went something like this.
“Hey girl! I’d love to go out to dinner with you, but it really isn’t in my budget right now. Would you like to come over for dinner? We can make something fun together!”
Simply being honest goes along way and I was surprised at how understanding people were. In most cases, they were completely open to doing my less expensive, alternative activities. After all, it’s all about spending time with one another, right?
Stacking Season is Just That, A Season
A season is temporary. Many places get 4 season a year, unless of course you live in Phoenix and only get 2 seasons – hot and hotter. Just because you may have to slow down or suggest alternatives for social engagements for a period of time, doesn’t mean you’ll have to forever.
You will come up financially and it’s only a matter of time. Recognizing that stacking season won’t last forever gives you a healthy perspective on your situation and reminds you that you have so much to look forward to financially.
With that in mind, here are some cheap, free or DIY activities you can do with your gal pals.
- DIY Spa Day – Invite your girlfriends over for a spa day where you make (or buy) your own face masks, paint your toenails (and scrub your feet), and pamper yourselves.
- Go stargazing on a warm, summer night – Grab a blanket, find a great spot with a great view and get ready for lots of girl talk and good vibes.
- Go on a hiking adventure – Hiking is a great way to get physical exercise and talk. There’s something about standing on top of a mountain that invites deep, meaningful conversations.
- Go swimming or hang out by the pool – If you live in an apartment, invite people to your apartment pool! You can bring your own snacks, drinks and music. It’s an instant party.
- Visit a free museum – Most cities have a museum that has one free night per week. Look up the museums in your city and look to see if they have any free or discounted days.
- Take pictures out in nature – Let’s face it. Taking cute pictures of one another is what friends do. Go on a car ride looking for the perfect photo spots. Then, hop out and snap away.
- Go to a bookstore and browse – You’ll be surprised at how much fun it is to read the backs of books and explore different genres.
- Go thrifting with a budget – Give yourself a thrifting budget, say $20, and hit up your favorite thrift shops. You’ll have fun seeing what you can get for you budget and if you’re like me, bargain hunting can give you a special rush.
- Go to an farmer’s market – Farmer’s markets can be crazy fun. You can go from booth to booth, getting samples and mingling with vendors. The vibes at farmer’s markets are almost always cool, calm, and free flowing.
- Tour a brewery – Lots of brewery’s give free tours! Look up local breweries in your area and get to sippin’. You just might learn something and get your buzz on.
Happy stacking season sis.