There are many sayings that get tossed around when it comes to money. Some people say, “The best things in life are free.” And by this they must be referring to character, virtue, and even friendship. It might come as a surprise that the path to friendship can sometimes come with a financial toll. While this isn’t true for every social group or activity it can be true for some.
An example that comes quickly to mind is a recreational sports league. It is a pay to play arrangement in the truest sense of the phrase. Sure, the added benefit of comradery is a great perk but without other people there you would just be playing in full uniform by yourself.
When we take our significant other out for dinner we are paying to play. When we invite our friends to our wedding or anniversary, again we have to reach into our pockets. Our time is crucial but along with that much of the activities we engage in socially have a cost of admission that isn't always clearly posted. Anyone trying to have a social life on a budget knows this as well as any teenager trying to plan a date with their allowance.
Transportation will always be a concern, event if you don't have to drive and pay for gas; there may need to be a plane ticket or bus fare to get together. In some cases a walk will suffice but that may put certain limits on time of year and distance when we consider the weather. Ka-ching.
Once you get together there is the activity itself, which could be a concert or a show. Ka-ching, again for tickets. Even if the activity is inexpensive everyone must be able to afford it or other arrangements must be made.
Of course every outing doesn’t have to cost money, there are many that do not. Sometimes it seems like there is a little charge tacked on to every little thing we might do but in all honesty it doesn’t always need to be there. By planning a walk around the mall with a friend you will pay for transit, parking, food at the food court, potentially spend money while window shopping. Yet, if we change that walk through the mall to a walk in the park with a picnic you will save money on food, get just as much, if not more exercise, and it will take place for nearly no financial cost.
Each city offers local programming and concerts as well. Some are nights in town square and others are free speeches, and plays in the library and vintage movie nights. The idea is that by exploring the available options in your area you’ll be able to avoid having to spend money just to spend time with the people you care about. We can’t let our habit of spending lead us to believe that best things in life are somehow no longer free, because no one should have to pay to play.