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Using Your Unique Skills to Save Money

by Mike

This is a guest post from No Debt MBA, who is working on paying for a top business school in cash.

Knowing your personal strengths and weaknesses can boost your ability to save, get out of debt or meet your other financial goals. I’m not  just talking about knowing if you’re a procrastinator or a planner or  stuff like that. It’s an approach that has certainly been talked to death. No, I’m thinking on a more day to day level. What are you good at? What  are your uncommon skills?

Let’s talk about your social life.  We seem to socialize way more in the summer than the winter. I guess during the long nights and cold days I get into the habit of hibernating.  But all that socializing can come at a cost with tabs for restaurants, concerts, and other events adding up quick.  Maybe you’re seeing the same bump in your “entertainment” or “fun” categories?

You can use your unique skills to cut this bump. For example, potlucks are pretty common among our friends. Already a frugal event, we found that many of our friends thought making hummus was  complicated and expensive and were hooked on the grocery store’s pre-made tubs. So we make some from scratch at home for a fraction of  the cost, look like rock stars and have a frugal pot luck offering. Our skill isn’t anything fancy but it is unique among our friends.

Fortunately our friends also have unique skills of their own:

  • Sophie is a killer baker. She takes flour, sugar and eggs and makes minor culinary miracles. She has even better  results with her pastries, cakes and cookies than we do with our hummus  for the same price or less.
  • Sam lives near a meat market that has great deals and one of the best people on the grill that I know. Parties at his house mean meat on the grill, we bring everything else and return the favor another time.
  • Blake works in the wine industry. He knows that whatever leftovers he has from events his company plans will be well received and he can usually sweet talk his way into a case.
  • Amy has a killer view from her apartment and a great balcony. She’s a grad student and preempts invitations to some expensive happy hours by arranging in advance to host friends for a pot luck or drinks. She finds that she can get a handle and some mixers or several bottles of wine for the same cost as a night out at a hot bar. Later, friends return the favor by hosting her.
  • Tom owns a boat and every year or two will counter expensive vacation plans with friends with an offer to take them out for a long weekend sailing. He saves money and so does everyone else.
  • Nick is a great guitar player and Sarah has a fantastic music collection. They often provide music when we get together.

On the other hand, some friends have skills useful in going out:

  • Thad’s ability to find free or cheap happy hour events is unparalleled. When the discussion starts on which bar to head to that Friday night, he usually chimes in with a solid suggestion and we’ve all learned to listen because who doesn’t like free or $1 beers?
  • Lisa dog-walks for a certain restaurateur in our area. On holidays and random occasions she’s rewarded with gift certificates to his restaurants on top of pay.
  • Peter can charm the pants off of anyone and almost always lands us an app or pitcher on the house when we go out.
  • Similarly, April makes friends easily and having worked as a bartender knows many of the service workers we run into around town. I won’t complain, but items are often “forgotten” from our bill when she goes out with us.

What are your skills or advantages in saving money? What unique things can you use better to help you and your friends save money on socializing?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

Definitely use Foursquare and Twitter to get cheap (or free) drinks / appetizers when I go out with friends.

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