Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Buddy System

I'll have the same, please.
When I first got to New York and was on a super tight budget, my roommate and I devised ways to stay on track with our spending while still enjoying going out in the city. When we headed to a bar, for instance, we brought only enough cash for one drink each. If we were enjoying ourselves, drinking water for the rest of the night was just fine -- something we didn't even notice, because we were busy having fun. Sometimes someone would offer to buy one or both of us a drink, which was nice, but it was equally nice to know we were being responsible with our money and our safety by having only one drink. There were, of course, more wild nights as well, but not on a regular basis -- having a good time was never dependent on drinking. Inspired by Madonna who often went out dancing without drinking at all when she was young, there were many nights I did the same, and some of those nights were the most fun.

Now I have a friend who is always trying to watch her waist and her budget. For a little while this resulted in not getting together as often as we would like, because she didn't want to throw off her budget or her diet. So we came up with a new plan: when we go to dinner, we each get a salad and one glass of wine. Since we are both getting the same thing, neither of us are tempting the other into making a choice that is less healthy, more expensive, or both.

Budget limitations feel so much easier to handle when someone else abides by them as well. If one friend is drinking three drinks at the bar, the other will be tempted to get more than she planned on. Likewise, if one friend is ordering a big meal with dessert and a couple of glasses of wine, the other may feel deprived. But making a plan with a buddy in advance can feel so drastically different, that one may not even notice she has saved herself money.

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