Jennifer writes in:
I just moved to a new city for work and I don’t know anyone here. Most of my new coworkers are nice, but we don’t have a lot of interest overlap and they spend a lot of money on stuff. I’ve gone out a few times to clubs, but that’s the usual boring club scene.
How do I find friends that are financially sensible in a new city? I want friends that are perfectly happy to come over for a potluck dinner or play a card game or, when we go out, hit a free concert or go play disc golf at a park.
Finding new friends who are sensible with their spending can actually be a significant challenge for frugal people, particularly if they’re not strong extroverts. I’ve faced this very challenge myself. Thankfully, there are a handful of techniques that work really well together for solving this challenge.
First, find things that you’d like to do yourself in your community. You seem to like to play disc golf and go to free concerts, for example. What other things do you enjoy doing, either by yourself or with others, that don’t involve just sitting at home?
For example, if you enjoy playing board or card games, does your community have a board game club? Most major cities do. Is there a free concert series in your city? Does your city have some public disc golf courses?
I’m sure you’ve only listed some of your interests. Just spend some time figuring out where you would go for fun in your new city, then go do those things.
The key thing to remember is that other frugal people are likely to enjoy doing similar things. Yes, there will be some people there that you don’t mesh well with, but the best place to find people who have similar interests and values to your own is to go to events that you enjoy and match your values and see who’s there.
The next step is to be social. Talk to people who are at these events. Get to know them a little bit. Chat with the person you’re playing a game with. Make some small talk with the person next to you at the free concert.
You don’t necessarily have to become best pals with this person. In fact, you’ll probably never see most of the people you chat with ever again. What you’re looking for is a few nice people that seem to click well with you.
For me, the real key is to identify people who seem to regularly appear at things that you’re interested in. If you see the same face at two different concerts and then they pop up at the disc golf course, that’s probably a person you can build a friendship with.
I built one of my closest friendships in college simply because I just kept running into this person at random moments. We didn’t have any other social connection; we just seemed to have several common interests.
If you have a particular passion, get involved with it. For example, if you really like disc golf, see if there’s a disc golf league in your area or if the local parks and rec department would like to have a volunteer to get the ball rolling.
This pretty much guarantees that you’re going to meet and interact with people that have a similar passion as you, because those people are going to be drawn to that activity as well.
The real key to all of this, though, is to have the courage to say hello and introduce yourself. If you just sit in the corner waiting for someone to notice you, it’s going to be very hard for a friendship to blossom.
If you see a familiar face popping up at events, go introduce yourself. The worst thing that will happen is that a friendship won’t click, and that just puts you back where you started. The best case scenario? You have a great new friend to hang out with.