How to Save Money When Hanging With Friends


Ryan Ong



Friends make you spend money. I know this, because every time I hang out with my crew, we end up finding new ways to raise bail. You know how it is: First there’s beer, then there’s lighting farts, then suddenly the place is like a Civil Servants annual dinner (i.e. full of annoyed SCDF personnel). But I’ll assume you and your buddies spend on more conventional things. Those are even easier to deal with:


Group Activities Increase Your Spending

When we hang out in groups, we tend to spend 10% – 15% more. This is especially true with young adults (between 20 – 30 years). The tendency decreases with young students (they are uniformly broke) and older shoppers.

One spendthrift group member is enough to affect the entire group’s spending habits. The most typical example is the friend who likes expensive restaurants. He picks something pricey, then everyone ends up eating $30 pasta. Budget over.

In general, avoid groups bigger than three if you’re on a budget. The more people there are, the wider the range of possible activities become. And the greater your chances of being shouted down, if you’d rather do something cheaper.

But if you have to hang out in a group, try these:


1. Time Your Arrival


Guy dancing alone in a blur
Paul, stop dancing. The party was 7.30 YESTERDAY. You’re 24 hours and 15 minutes late.


Are they eating an expensive lunch before going shopping? Watching a movie you have no interest in? Well don’t bother then. Just arrive later.

Tell your friends you’ll be late, and join them once they’re done wasting money. Arriving late also offers other benefits: In a club or pub, for instance, you can drink from bottles everyone’s already ordered. When the bill comes, most people won’t notice whether you pay for those earlier drinks.

And if you come at the end of a meal, it won’t be awkward to order only dessert or a drink. That’s better than splitting the bill. Remember, you might have a situation where everyone orders something pricier than you. Or everyone orders multiple, expensive appetizers.


2. Accept Your Rich Friend’s Help


Girl dressed as a present
And the fact that you’re rich doesn’t change the way I see you.


You probably know at least one friend richer than you. Well, the social complexities are even worse for him.

Whenever he wants to treat you, he’s worried about accidentally flaunting his wealth. In his head, he’s visualising someone in a stretch limo, waving fifty dollar bills at passing hobos. And thinking: “Oh God, I hope I’m not one of those ass-hats.”

It’s true; rich friends have more guilt issues than a fat man staring at a gym. And by reassuring them, you can actually save money. Just be grateful and thank them when they treat you. Don’t feel obliged to return the favour. Doing so will leave you broke, and make them feel bad.


3. Never Have an Open Gathering


Wedding reception
Hey guys? Didn’t we start this as a potato chip and bean dip party?


By “open” I mean “no particular plan”. This is when everyone gets together just because. Almost without fail, open gatherings end up becoming parties, beer nights, or something that involves at least $150.

When you’re on a budget, have a fixed purpose. You’re gathering to have a crafts night, a gaming night, a movie night, etc. Have a plan beforehand. It’s hard enough to stick to it, but it’s even worse if you throw up your arms and suggest doing “whatever, man”.

Planning beforehand means you have a good estimate on how much you’ll spend. You won’t unexpectedly end up in a wine bar, paying $80 for glorified grape juice (Yes, I’m a barbarian).

When you’re at a loss, here are some budget friendly decisions:

  • Movie night at someone’s house
  • BBQ at someone else’s condo (expensive if you’re hosting)
  • Crafts project
  • Board games, card games, etc.


4. Avoid the Spendthrift Ones


Army duffel bags
Go reservist? No lah. You said we’re going shopping what.


You know your friends by now. You should be able to spot the reckless spender; the one who encourages you to buy stuff, take cabs, and check out every damn store in the mall.

If you’re on a budget, common sense dictates that you never shop with them. This is doubly true if you have a spending habit yourself; you’ll just end up encouraging each other. It’s like tying two lemmings by the ankles and shooing them toward a cliff ledge.

When you hang out with habitual spenders, keep it in a safe location. Your home is good, Paragon Orchard is not. You might also want to get a notorious cheapskate to tag along; this will give you backup when you refuse to “just try” that new cafe.

If YOU’RE spendthrift, follow us on Facebook. Our consumer articles might break your habit.


5. Pay Through Your Credit Card


CIMB bank master card
Actually I took the card from the next table. I’m sure he won’t mind, he’ll get a lot of reward points.


When paying restaurant bills, find the most appropriate credit card amongst you. You want the card with the biggest discount, or at least bonus food.

Failing that, try to use your credit card. Your friends can pay you cash. This lets you rack up points faster. Just make sure your next step is to find an AXS machine and pay it back. Yes, right now. Because otherwise, you’ll end up spending the loose cash in your wallet.

This works best if your card has a good reward scheme. Use free comparison sites like SmartCredit.sg to find one.


6. Don’t Linger


Sitting in the dark
Kinda dark here. You think this is a sign the cafe wants to close now?


When you’re flush with cash, feel free to linger all you want. When you’re on a budget, fix a time to leave. This will stop you from hanging out late at cafes or fast food joints.

The longer you stay out, the more money you’ll probably spend. Apart from buying drinks, or toxic bits of meat distantly related to chicken, there’s transport costs. Once it passes 11 o’clock, most people start thinking about cabs. Buses and the train look unattractive when it’s late, and especially when you’re tired from hanging out late.

Incidentally, cafes don’t provide free wi-fi and magazines without good reason. When you hang around longer, you’re more likely to buy snacks or a second coffee. And there’s a good chance you’ll form a nasty habit of repeatedly going back, and buying their overpriced coffee.

Image Credits:
madaboutasia, Canadian Film Centre, Stewardship – Transforming Generosity, simone.brunozzin2linux, liewcf, jennypenny1338

How do you save money when hanging out with friends? Comment and let us know!

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.