Balancing Frugality and Camaraderie – What’s Your Advice?

I received the following email last week:

I was hoping you could throw this one out to the group of readers:

I’m a relatively frugal recent college grad, working hard to save as much as I can. I left my job at Bear Stearns in April and started a new position at a small but stable financial services firm last Wednesday. The analysts on my team frequently go out to lunch, and have been inviting me each time. I went with the group on my first day, and we all paid for our own meals. I viewed that expense as part of team building rather than as the cost of a meal which I would have otherwise brown-bagged, but I am not interested in spending money on lunch more than once a week or so, and when I do spend that money I’m not terribly interested in eating with work colleagues (my wife works nearby and when she’s not around I enjoy relaxing alone with a book and my food). What to do?

Thank you!


My opinion:

I think you have to ask yourself what you have to gain by eating with your colleagues. If you’re the new kid on the block, it may be a good idea to forge some relationships with your new colleagues. If the only way to do that is by eating lunch with them, then perhaps you should consider doing so once or twice a week. I definitely don’t think it is necessary to eat out with them every day.

Another way to build friendship with colleagues would be to go out to lunch with one or two of them at a time. People are more likely to talk if they’re not in a large group.

The main thing is to be careful that you don’t become the office loner.

Now it’s time for AFM readers to weigh in. What’s your advice for Jay? How do you balance frugality with camaraderie?

How I Could Find $13,000 Per Year If I Had To

NOTE: I messed up. I had originally titled this: “How I Could Find $19,000 Per Year If I Had To.” Well, I made a cut and paste error in excel, which led to my numbers being off by $6,000. The error was caught by a reader and I decided to fix it. Sorry for the mistake. I try to do a better job of proof-reading my posts but sometimes I mess up.

Below is a small list of things that I could cut out of our budget if it became necessary. No, it wouldn’t be fun, but it could be done if I had to. I urge you to create your own list. I think you’ll be surprised just how much you could save if you had to. My list could potentially save nearly $13,000 per year!

Beer – I like beer. I enjoy trying different beers. But, I could give it up if our budget required it. My guess is that I could save $50 per month if I quit buying beer.

Coke – I know, I know. Coke is nasty stuff and I shouldn’t be drinking it. But,… me likes it! I could cut it out of our budget and save $10 – $20 per month.

All other non-essential groceries – These items include things like cereal bars, ice cream, fancy cheeses, and any other items that aren’t essential groceries. I have already cut out ice cream unless it is on sale. I’m just not gonna pay $6+ for a half gallon of ice cream. My best guess is that I could save $400 per month on groceries if I cut out non-essentials.

CDs – I like music and collecting CDs is a hobby of mine. But,… if it came down to it, I could cut out my CD-buying ways and save several hundred dollars a year.

Eating out – Our family spent over $5,700 eating out last year. Obviously we could save lots of money if we buckled down and refused to go out to eat.

Cut out cable and high speed internet – Things would have to be really bad for me to go this far. Why? Because we have a new HDTV and watching regular TV on an HDTV sucks. I’m also on the internet a lot so getting rid of high speed internet would not be good. That said, if I were to get rid of both cable TV and internet, I could save $107 per month.

Ditch my cell phone or landline – My landline costs around $42 per month and my cell phone is around $30 per month. If I ditched the landline, I would most likely have to upgrade my cell plan as it is currrently 250 minutes per month with 1,000 nights and weekends. If I split the difference, I could most likely save another $20 per month.

Those were just a few things I could think of at the time of this writing. What about you? Do you have a suggestion that I could add to the list?