Friends Are Good for Our Emotional and Financial Health

Why Friends are Good for Our Emotional and Financial Health

Making friends and joining groups is one of my favorite ways to save money and boost happiness.

However, if you’re shy, new to a place, or work full-time, it’s not always so easy.

If you don’t already know Meagan Francis, author, columnist and blogger at The Happiest Mom, you should. A work-at-home mother of five, Meagan is wise beyond her years.  She’s also down-to-earth, funny and helpful.

After reading some excerpts from her upcoming book with Parenting magazine, I realized a few things about myself.   (Meagan often replaces vague notions with “aha!” moments.)

For example, she helped me articulate that I’m not the most gregarious person — I don’t go up to people and say, “What a cute baby!”  or “Hi, my name is Amy.  Do you live around here?” But I love it when someone else does.  (Thank you to all those gregarious souls!)  Another realization:  instead of flitting among people like a social butterfly, I thrive on one-on-one time with a few good friends.

As Meagan points out in Why is it so hard to make mom friends?, it feels really good to talk to other moms when there is a shared interest — beyond the fact that we all have procreated. Small talk stinks, as she puts it, and a good way to get beyond it is to seek out people who love what you love.

Perhaps that’s why I like joining or starting groups where a special interest unites.  For example:

  • a PTA connects parents who have kids in the same school
  • a book or craft group unites people who love reading or creating things
  • a babysitting co-op unites parents who want to save money and meet people

Moms groups are great too. I used to be like Groucho Marx who didn’t want to join any club that would have him as a member.  But when we moved to Syracuse without knowing a soul, and I was too busy with a new baby and work to do the legwork myself, the local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group saved me.

What do friends have to do with saving money again?

Friends help each other out — with favors and tips, hand-me-downs and childcare.  Want more?

1.  Talk therapy instead of retail therapy

If you’re bored and lonely, doesn’t Target look a lot more attractive?  When I get busy, it’s a chore. When I’m down in the dumps, it’s an exciting outing.

2.  A venue for organized sharing

Groups can take co-operating to the next level with toy or clothing swaps, neighborhood tool sheds, carpools or walking schoolbuses.

3.  Loneliness is bad for your health

Lonely people get sick more often.  The Economist just cited a study that found that “the effect on mortality of loneliness is comparable to that of smoking and drinking.”

4.  Happiness begets happiness

This is more nebulous but let me take a shot:   If you are happier, your partner is happier, your children are happier, and things just go better. When things go well, more good things happen. Like achieving your financial goals or realizing your career dreams.

Do you have the friends you need?

If your babysitter quit, or if it’s been raining for 3 days straight but you can’t face going to the children’s museum alone, or you’re thinking about messaging an old boyfriend, or if something major happened to you — do you have the friends you need?  Check out Meagan’s post Find Your Tribe as well as her other tips:

Five secrets to building a social life as a mom

Why is it so hard to make mom friends? Solutions to 2 common obstacles

Dealing with mom cliques? 5 ways to create your own “in-crowd”

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  • Annette March 20, 2011, 11:19 pm

    Thanks for leading us to Meagan and for driving home the point that social life can save money. Aside from joining a PTA or a book club, moms can also organize themselves into a group to split expenses for groceries and other items.

    My husband and I helped organize our friends and neighbors so we can buy supplies in bulk at a much lower price. This became a venue to deepen our friendships and eliminate small talk (I agree with you and Megan on this ).

    We are using a free online tool called SplitStuff ( which makes organizing and communicating faster and easier. In fact, if you want, I can volunteer to help you get started with your own mom’s group. I enjoy doing it!

    I am one with you completely – if everyone in the family is happier, things just go better, until everyone around us benefits from this series of positive changes.

    • Amy March 25, 2011, 9:35 pm

      Hi Annette,

      I love this idea! I’d never heard of SplitStuff. Thanks for letting me know about it. I checked it out and it looks great. I hope others will look at it and see if it could help them to arrange shares, exchanges or bulk ordering together.

      Thanks for writing in!

  • Meagan @ The Happiest Mom March 9, 2011, 2:59 pm

    Thank you so much for this post, Amy! You are SO right that having a thriving social life helps you save money. The busier, more productive, and happier my life is, the less I want to shop for recreation, and the less dissatisfied I feel with the things I already have. Nothing cures you of the desire to drop $300 at Target as well as having something else–something better!–to do.

  • Amy March 8, 2011, 1:37 pm

    Hi Jen,

    I agree that online friends are great, but nothing can replace the connection you feel when you can communicate with faces, eyes and smiles.

    I can totally see your longing for a pet. Pets can provide a lot of that loving companionship, but I think you are right to start your own group — maybe a writers group or something else up your alley. Even just one or two people would make a difference.

    I hope this afternoon is fruitful — you might ask the librarian how to get in touch with other moms who might want to join your group.

    Good luck!

  • Jen @ Jen Spends March 8, 2011, 1:04 pm

    I think this explains why I have been absolutely obsessing over the idea of getting a puppy, much to my husband’s dismay! Of course I know deep down that another animal in the house (we already have two birds) could very likely cause more problems than it solves.

    I am really in dire straits as far as friends are concerned. I have many wonderful friends who I am able to communicate with online, but it’s not the same as having people who live close by to just hang out with. My last friend in my immediate vicinity moved out of state a few months ago. I definitely don’t have the friends I need. It stinks. I’m going to work on that though, even if it means I’m the one who actually has to start the groups around here. I’m heading to a library event for pre-schoolers this afternoon, so maybe that will lead somewhere :) Thanks for another thought-provoking post!