We all have different personalities and things that we find fun. For many years, I’ve known that I am not the sort of person who enjoys going out to crowded places and doing the “typical” Friday and Saturday night activities of movies, restaurants, and bars/clubs. I’m also not thrilled by crowded athletic events or concerts. Part of it is the high price tag associated with many of these activities and part of it is that I just don’t like crowds. But a few weeks ago I made an exception. Some old friends came into town and they are definitely the sort that like to have crowded fun. They want to do what everyone else is doing, or what’s “hot” in town. They wanted to spend the weekend going to a concert, restaurants, a movie, and a hockey game. I said, “Sure.” That was my mistake.
The grand total that I spent on the weekend was north of $500. That included tickets to the events, meals, and parking for my husband and I. And that was with us trying to be somewhat frugal, at least at the restaurants. (My friends covered their own expenses.) More than the money, though, was the misery of that weekend. Everything was crowded with pushing, loud people. We spent hours sitting in traffic for the concert and the hockey game. We waited for tables at the restaurants only to get food that was mediocre. We had to shout at each other to be heard no matter where we went. (I was still shouting three days later because I’d gotten into the habit.) Whenever we’d try to have a conversation we were interrupted by other people shouting at each other so it’s not like any of this was quality time with our friends. The movie was a misery thanks to people talking and using their phones in the theater. All in all, I received nothing but unhappiness from my $500 and I was left thinking of all the other, more enjoyable things I could have done with that money
The point of this story isn’t that you should never go to an expensive event or get out in crowds. If you genuinely enjoy that sort of thing, go right ahead. The point is that you have to know what makes you happy and know when to say, “No,” to activities that are going to end up making you miserable and wasting your money. I should have told my friends that I would be happy to go to one of the activities, but not all of them. That would have been a good compromise.
We could have spent the days together hanging out at quieter/less expensive venues and then I could have sent them off at night to do all the other things they wanted. We still would have had time together, but I wouldn’t have ended up exhausted and unhappy. It would be the same if I went to visit them and made them stay in every night reading classic literature. I would be having fun, but they would be miserable. The compromise would be for me to stay in at night and read while letting them go off to party. We could spend the days doing other things together and preserve our sanity.
In order to have fun and get the most out of the money you spend on fun, you have to know what will bring you joy. If you don’t like certain kinds of fun, no matter how popular that fun may be, you’re going to end up resenting the wasted money. So save the money for the things you enjoy. If you’re feeling pressured by your friends to do something else, either find a good compromise or say no. Everyone will survive, you’ll have a better time (and better quality time) and you’ll save money.