By Hannah Wisterman
Blog Content Contributor
Adulthood has its perks, but in general, it kind of sucks. You have to buy your own groceries, pay your own rent, and suddenly you’re an actual taxpayer. Notice a common theme here? Everything costs money, and most of us don’t have cash to burn. Even the simple act of getting together with friends revolves around spending your sparse dough—going to the movies, grabbing coffee, or the most common culprit, getting lunch or dinner. While there’s nothing wrong with catching up at Café on the Square or having a study sesh armed with Starbucks, sooner or later, you’ll have the quintessential college experience: a friend will ask if you want to get dinner, and you’ll cringe and mumble, “Uhhh… I’m kind of broke.”
But does that mean we live in isolation until our bank account recovers? No! Friendship is free, and its upkeep should be too. The last thing we want is for you to lose a pal because you couldn’t afford to hang out with them. To save you the brainpower, here are our favorite free (or super cheap) ways to get that sweet, sweet friend time.
The great outdoors
If you’re a San Marcos local or a Texas State student, you’ve got a great opportunity here: the incomparable Sewell Park. Some of the best memories I have with my friends are from watching sand volleyball or spilling our guts on the banks of the river. Sewell is a practically ideal free hangout spot—just remember to bring sunscreen. If you don’t live in San Marcos, or if you know you’ll be hanging out with friends when you go home for break, I encourage you to find a local park. Bring a ball to toss around or find a trail you like to walk. Make a game out of bird or dog watching. Most excitingly, you have the potential for a picnic, which leads me to…
Food from home
Many of us can attest that most of our bank account goes right into our bellies. Eating out is expensive, but it’s one of our favorite things to do to socialize, for good reason. Food brings people together, and since childhood, shared meals have been how we learn to banter and catch up with each other. But there’s a way to do that without amassing a shameful amount of Whataburger receipts. For one, you can have baking parties at home. As long as you keep the recipe simple, you don’t need much to bake a cake or cookies—and that’s not even considering the plethora of cake-in-a-mug recipes on Pinterest. You can also make (or have your friend make) a home-cooked dinner to share. If it’s just for another friend or two, you most likely won’t even need to buy extra groceries. We already have the “you have food at home” talk with ourselves, so obviously it can be helpful to have it with our friends too.
Not to sound like the bare-minimum side of Twitter, but there is something to be said for the friendships where you can simply lie on the couch and watch bad movies. Netflix isn’t free, but there’s plenty of media that is. Watch parties of favorite TV shows are a great way to hang out with friends around something you all enjoy; if you’re more musically inclined, have a listening party instead, enjoying an album that just dropped or educating your pals about one they definitely should know by now. Game nights fit in this category, too, and you can achieve that with a deck of cards from the dollar store. When it comes down to it, it’s not what you do, it’s with whom you do it. Good friends should make simple stuff like this seem like the time of your life.
A lot of these may seem like no-brainers, but as simple as they are, we often forget that they’re even an option. And of course, there are tons of other things you can do, too—check to see if your city has free museum days, have a DIY-craft day, or go on a Goodwill adventure and see what you can find for less than five bucks, just to name a few more ideas. I am but a springboard to launch you on your cheapskate journey. Remember, it’s no problem to spend money every once in a while, but sometimes we need reminding that friendship comes with no price tag.
Featured image by Hannah Wisterman.