Entertainment Value: Start a Frugal Club

By Tisha Tolar on 20 January 2009 (Updated 22 February 2010) 8 comments



Frugality is a big topic of conversation these days. More people who never considered a frugal lifestyle are now cutting back on their spending and taking more notice of their own money habits. There are more people working actively to save money and save money wherever they can. Consumers have been investigating different methods and alternatives to their traditional spending habits, such as shopping at discount and dollar stores and cutting out luxuries like expanding cable packages.They are working hard to get back to the basics.

One of the drawbacks to having to cut out things from your life in order to save money, is sometimes having to cut out the things in your life that are fun. Entertainment and eating out at restaurants are two of the top things that are usually the first to go. It can get depressing for some who feel they are working so hard to get out of debt and save money but still have little incentive in daily life.

It is situations like this that bring out the creativity in people. The famous saying “necessity is the mother of invention” is a perfect description of what can be done even in today's society to make life a little bit easier, and a whole lot more fun.

As you continue to work a full-time job, wrangle the kids, and make your money work for you, there are some sacrifices that you are making every day and you may not even realize it. Think about it – are you too busy for your friends? Do you find yourself dealing more with the social lives of your kids than you do yourself? Well, thinking outside of the box, you can change all of that and have a blast at least one night a week, while still saving money.

Start A Frugal Club

What is a frugal club? Well, there is no official answer to that question because my necessity as a mother just invented it. When I was thinking about the content of this article, I immediately pictured that scene in Mr. Mom where Michael Keaton was playing poker with the neighborhood ladies, using coupons in the pot.

A frugal club can be anything you want it to be, so long as you find ways to incorporate frugality and find ways to be entertained and save money. Gather some friends you know who are working towards a more frugal life and set a specific day and time that is convenient for everyone, making a commitment to attend more likely to happen.

Here are some ideas to get you rolling but feel free to find your own ways to spend a frugal evening among friends:

n up the house each week. This gives everyone license to just take a break.
 

  • Make it a potluck dinner with a minimum, no one can spend more than $5 on a dish they bring over. This will make people more apt to look for creative recipes that are tasty and inexpensive.
     
  • Have each member clip out and bring all articles and tips they have found throughout the week on the topic of frugality and saving money. Have a round-table discussion about which tips the groups like. Keep a notebook to record the keepers and toss the rest to keep clutter to a minimum.
     
  • Bring coupons and trade with your friends.
     
  • Bring local store fliers and decide where the best bargains are.
     
  • Create a shopping list for all the members and go shopping at a warehouse store, once a month.
     
  • All members can split up the bulk purchases, each chipping in a fair and equal amount of money.
     
  • Swap your stuff. In an effort to be frugal, bring things to the meeting you no longer need or use, such as kids clothing, toys, small appliances, books, whatever you have cluttering the home and trade with the other members for free. This is a great way to get new things you need and get rid of the old stuff.
     
  • During swap nights, if there is left over items no one needs, find out which members have extra space in their basement or garage to hold the leftovers. Once a month, or depending on the rules of your hometown, your members can host a yard sale. Keep all of the joint proceeds together and put it towards your group's next trip to the warehouse store.
     
  • Plan a stay-cation with members by concocting a creative way to take a break from it all. Pitch some tents in the backyard of a member and bring the family to try some outside living for a night or two of nature.
     
  • Spread the word and get more people involved in saving money around the neighborhood. It will be a great resource to have a lot of people who can help you stay focused on your frugality goals and saving more money.
  • There are so many other alternatives to the things you can do in a frugal club, feel free to add your twist on ideas. The important thing is that you get out of your house at least one night a week and socialize with people with whom you have things in common with and common goals for saving money. This adds value to your life without spending nary a dime.

     

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    Debbie Dragon's picture

    One thing my mom and I do because we live very close is to share dinners.  We don't have a set schedule or anything, but about once a week we'll each make a dinner with enough to feed the other person's family.  So when I make lasagna or spaghetti for example, I'll make enough to feed my mother, father and grandpa (they live together) and will drop some off.  It saves my parents a night of cooking and groceries.  Another night, the kids and I will go over for dinner or mom will make extra to give us to take home to save us a night of cooking and groceries.

    This idea could easily be adapted for a group of friends and neighbors - it's cheaper to make MORE of the same meal than it is to make multiple meals. So if each person made enough to feed another couple of families one night a week (and got something in return on a different night), you get a break from cooking and might save some money in the long run.

     

    Tisha Tolar's picture

    I love when my mom feeds my family!!

    We also share big meals with our elderly landlord who has no close family. We make sure to wrap up left overs and pass them over so he has a few nights worth of meals. He, in turn, brings us fresh and FREE eggs each week. We haven't bought a carton of eggs in four years!

    Guest's picture
    raynz

    I love your post. Frugal club is something new to me but I like the idea. I can replicate it with my friends. Its like "hitting two birds with one stone" e.g. it's guaranteed to have fun with close friends and at the same time do some brainstorming and undergo activities wherein everybody can save some money. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Myscha Theriault's picture

    Thanks for a great article. You've come up with a great concept and have a ton of meaty ideas to go along with it. I also like the weekly item swap idea. It keeps people focused at least once a week on what items they really haven't used in a while. If people don't want to be bothered with a monthly yard sale, the person hosting the event each week could be responsible for taking the extras to Goodwill.  Just a suggestion. But certainly if they have the time to organize one, having the extra few bucks is great.

    Guest's picture
    Guest

    I love it. I am considering starting this. Not sure of the enthusiasim of others, but thinking of checking it out......thanks for the great ideas.

    Guest's picture
    Rachel

    I've started a coupon club with several of my friends here. Once a month we meet and cut coupons, talk about the deals we have found, share other saving tips, bring items to give away to each other as well as organizations, and over all just enjoy each other's company. It's a lot of fun and I highly recommend it!

    Guest's picture
    Guest

    This is a great idea if you are surrounded by people that share your interest in frugality. If you are not, here is an alternative:

    I am just starting up a book club with just a few friends. We will meet once a month, discussing the book.
    The rules: 1) every member (and not Oprah!) get to choose a book, 2) the books have to be available from the library, 3) We take turns hosting the club and 4) the point of the club is the book, and not the catering. Drinks and snacks are fancy enough for our (frugal) book club!

    Maybe this idea is good for people whose friends are not ready to discuss frugality per se. Also, meeting once a month gives you time to actually finish a book (at least if you watch less tv during that month - hey, another good thing!). Personally, I believe it is easier for me to find time for this, compared to meeting every week.

    Guest's picture
    Cynthia

    Very cool tip! I was much inspired by this post; I started a frugal club for Las Vegas: http://www.meetup.com/FrugalVegas

    I'm still working out the details, but I plan on getting together for free shows, or swaps for clothes/books/coupons, or to have comically low-cost parties ... to make saving money fun and friendly. There are a lot of good deals in town for locals, you just need to know where to look, and if we team up, I bet it will rock! It will be nice to support each other in the goal for improved finances, plus I think it's environmentally helpful.

    Our message board has different categories: Easily Entertained, Frugal Gourmet, Lean & Green, Retail Therapy, and Penny For Your Thoughts (Etc.)

    I plan on emailing a monthly newsletter on all the finds and tips the members sent in, kind of like our own local-specific of the Tightwad Gazette. I'll post a list of food specials on what days, and which places offer what discounts, where to get good coupons, and any other tricks to share.

    Though honestly, I don't want to give away all my best secrets ... some of my gems I want to keep dibs on! ;-)

    Good luck, everyone!