Married to the Empire

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Friendship on a Budget?

This is really on my mind lately because 1) we just spent $30 on lunch out with friends on Sunday, and 2) Steven's company had surprise layoffs on Monday (Steven's job is still safe, thankfully). I feel as if we should be a lot more careful with our money. We have an entertainment budget. Every pay period, I pull out a certain amount of cash and divvy it up into various categories. We have a fairly generous entertainment budget, which covers things like eating out, seeing movies, renting video games, etc. The $30 we spent on lunch was within our budget, but to be perfectly honest, I didn't want to spend it. We spent a ton last weekend at All-Con, and we still have another weekend to get through before Steven is paid again. This lunch pretty much left us with almost nothing for next weekend. However, I did want to spend time with our friends, whom we haven't seen a lot of lately, other than in passing at church.

Our church is big on eating out after the service on Sundays. The youth always go out together somewhere, and we feel bad when we have to tell them no, but we choose not to afford to do this every week so that we can do other things with our budgeted money. Same with friends, but sometimes, it seems like the only opportunity to be with them is at those Sunday afternoon lunches.

What to do?

The seemingly-easy solution would be to invite friends over for lunch at our house. However, I don't cook on Sundays. It's my Sabbath, and it's the day that I take a nap, lazily read the newspaper, and don't cook. I've been thinking this over for a while now.

I can remember when I was really young and my mom would prep food before church, then put it in the timed oven. I'm not a morning person, and I know that one wouldn't happen. We could do sandwiches, but rolls and cold cuts for so many people could get pricey.

Of course, there's the crockpot. I think this may be my best solution. I could prep the pot the night before, stick it in the fridge overnight, then take it out and plug it in before leaving for church. I have a few easy, inexpensive recipes, but I think I'll need to search for a few more. Honestly, I don't want to do this every week or anything, but once a month sounds doable.

Does anyone else feel as if sometimes friendships break the budget? What do you do when it seems the only time to be with friends involves going out to eat?


Anonymous said...

Fortunately or not, everyone around us seems more inclined to eat at home lately - and I think the general economic situation has a lot to do with that.

I try to avoid cooking on Sundays too. The crockpot can work well, or something cold like sandwiches or some kind of salad. For example I did a fancy tuna salad with green salad and our friend brought bread this Sunday, with already-cut-up strawberries for dessert. Also, my husband thinks cooking is fun but never has time to do it during the week, so he likes to cook on Sundays sometimes as a treat - not sure if yours would go for that.

You're probably not the only one worried about the cost of going out to eat a bunch. I bet if you suggest eating at home to your friends, they will likely be happy to consider it too. Good luck.

Camille said...

Hi, found your blog through Merchant Ships. We solved this problem with a "Gourmet club". It works with at least 4 couples. We started it because it was too expensive to get babysitters and go out to eat. So the couple who is the host is responsible for the main course, 3 other couples bring desert, appetizer and a side dish. Everyone brings whatever they want to drink. Host couple also provides coffee and tea.
We rotate dinners so everyone has a chance to do each course. We usually pick a country as a theme and have progressed to where we throw darts a world map to pick our countries. You may not want to do this on Sunday afternoons but weekend nights are a good time. It's fun, different and inexpensive, depending on what you serve. contact me at if you want more details.

AnneK said...

I did not understand from your post, but do you just pay for everyone or just the two of you? Does it cost $30 for lunch for 2? (I must be living under a rock!)

I am sorry that I don't have any suggestions for Sunday lunches.

Mary said...

No suggestions for Sunday lunches, I'm afraid, but you're certainly not alone! A friend and I recently wanted to get together - away from the husbands and 8 kids! Being winter, we couldn't find a place where we could go to catch up that we wouldn't either be surrounded by noise (and children) or have to at least buy a $4 cup of coffee. I miss my friend...but spring is coming. Hey! In the spring/summer, is meeting up at a park and everyone bringing a sack lunch an option?

Sue said...

I totally hear you on this one. My friends go out after church every week, and while it wasn't that big of a deal when I was employed, I definitely think twice now that I'm a job searcher!
I think the crock-pot is your best option. It doesn't have to be anything fancy...I think the fellowship is the biggest thing. You may start a new trend!

Eliza28 said...

I like the idea from Camille it sounds like lots of fun. Maybe you could make it on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon where you help the younger people learn how to make the meal. The experience would be good for them and lots of time to talk.

We don't have many friends so not a problem for us :) I am the opposite because Sunday is the only day that we get my husband all to ourselves so the kids and I make a big dinner for him then we all help clean-up. For us it is a family bonding not so much a chore.

Great subject to bring up. Thanks!

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

Annie, it was $30 just for Steven and me. We both ordered iced tea with our meals, and of course, there was the tip... It adds up fast. It wasn't so much the cost itself, as the fact that sometimes it feels as if we have to spend money to maintain our friendships. I was feeling tight-fisted on Sunday, but I really wanted to be with our friends. Obviously, fellowship with friends won out. We wouldn't have gone, though, if it hadn't been in the budget.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and ideas on this subject!

Lacie said...

I've been thinking the same thing lately. I am not in a money crunch right now either, but all the doom and gloom talk, and the hit my retirement funds have taken, it really makes me want to save more of my hard earned cash just in case. Tonight, for example, I'm seeing a movie with a friend, but instead of going to dinner like she wanted, I suggested we just go for coffee afterward. Even a $5 Starbucks is cheaper that a $25 dinner. When I do go out for dinner, I no longer have a glass or two of wine. At $8 for a glass of wine, that adds up really fast.

In the summer, when I was growing up, we always went on a picnic for lunch after church on Sunday. A group of families always went, and everyone brought the food for their own family (although it could be done potluck and maybe it was, but I was a kid and didn't care or notice). I remember Mom making potato salad every Saturday night to take to the picnic.

I haven't checked in in ages. I've missed your blog.

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

Lacie! I've missed you!

I think coffee after the movie instead of dinner is a great compromise. And I totally know what you mean about taking a hit to the retirement accounts. Last statement we received, I realized were only $2000 away from having lost HALF of the funds in our IRA. Ouch!

I've actually been reworking the budget this week to try to cut down on variable spending. I'd like to sock even more in our savings account. Steven got a raise a couple of months ago, and I upped our savings with it, but I'd like to sock away even more. Just in case.

Anonymous said...

I'm seeing this post way later, but in case you see this, I wanted to mention that we have always felt this way-from newlyweds to now with two children. Eating out with friends, now that we have children, is even less appealing, and not just because of the expense. The more people there are at the table, the less intimate it seems, and it is never as fun eating out as it is gathering at home (or at a picnic) where we can linger as long as we like, and laugh as loudly as we want, and let the children get up to play when they are done eating. While it's cold, you can prep soup in the crock pot, and have little sandwiches on regular bread or even just crackers. A hit for us is making a big crock pot of chili with a side of corn bread or nachos and salad. Sometimes we do a 7-layer-bean dip too. Pot lucks are also a great option!