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: