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How to cope with social season without breaking the bank

The invitations come thick and fast in summer and before you know it, your entire holiday budget has disappeared

Ellie Austin-Williams
Freelance Writer
May 9, 2024
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The Met Gala took place this week, and if you’re anything like me then you'll know that this date in the annual fashion calendar marks the unofficial start of summer. Not only is it an opportunity to rate the best dressed - and the worst - but it also sets the stage for the clothing trends we’re about to see flood the stores.

It just so happens that this is also the time of the year when, for millions of twenty or thirty somethings, plan-free, lazy weekends fade into the past and, instead, diary Tetris takes place to accommodate a seemingly endless stream of hen parties, birthday BBQs and, of course, weddings. The invitations come thick and fast and, before you know it, your annual leave and entire holiday budget for the year have disappeared.

Low section view of group of people waiting outdoors wears formal clothes for a wedding© Getty/aire images
Summer means an endless stream of hen parties, birthday BBQs and, of course, weddings

The fear of missing out 

One of the biggest challenges is the conflict between wanting to say yes to everything - after all, who doesn't love a good party - and the looming bank statement at the end of the month. For a whole host of societal and financial reasons, a series of events that were once staggered over the course of years now often end up concentrated across just a few. 

This time, during which many of us find our nearest and dearest marking traditional life milestones, now coincides with putting a huge amount of financial pressure on individuals in a small space of time. So much so that the average first time buyer in the UK is now 34. The average age for a first-time marriage is 31, as is the average first-time mother in the UK. When you look at the big picture, you can see why there’s an almighty squeeze on both spare time and money in a short number of years. 

With the sheer number of occasions that crop up in mind, it’s inevitable that there will be times when the maths just doesn’t add up and you have to turn down another invitation to a hen party abroad, or a destination wedding. It’s not always easy; the fear of missing out is real. However, setting financial boundaries, and saying no, can sometimes be necessary for your long-term financial wellbeing. 

Be mindful of your looming bank statement at the end of the month© Getty/Oscar Wong
Be mindful of your looming bank statement at the end of the month

If you do find yourself with a long list of invitations this summer, remember that attending doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There are ways to think a little outside the box so that you can still take part in celebrations without breaking the bank. I spoke to Francesca Henry, founder of The Money Fox, to get her top tips to stay in control of costs during a busy summer whilst still staying sociable.

Don't say yes to everything

Increasingly, celebratory events take on a life of their own and can spread across not only several hours and activities, but days - and in some cases, longer. Often, the costs start to spiral when accommodation comes into play, along with expensive nights out. For events such as hen parties or birthdays with more than one component, speak to the organiser in advance about how you may not be able to attend the full event. 

"Offer instead to help organise so that you’re part of it still," suggests Fran. That way, you can be present, enjoy yourself, and limit the financial impact of the occasion. 

Suitcase in airport with airplane in the background© Getty/F.J. Jimenez
There are ways to think a little outside the box so that you can still take part in celebrations without breaking the bank

Rewear and resell outfits

Not all that long ago, the idea of rewearing clothes sent shivers down the spine of millennials far and wide. Yet fast forward to the present day, and increased awareness of sustainability in fashion has made rewearing outfits mainstream. Reselling platforms such as Vinted and Depop have boomed in popularity so there’s no longer a need to spend a small fortune on 'new in' styles. Rather, dig out an old classic outfit, or find yourself a preloved gem to give a new lease of life, and bank the difference into your savings.

 Alternatively, try a clothes swap. "Borrow an outfit from friends. There is no shame in wearing the same outfit to various weddings - nobody will notice except you!," says Fran. 

Get creative with gifting

PRE-LOVED FASHION: Here’s how I made £1k from selling pre-loved fashion on Vinted

It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need to turn up to every occasion laden with lavish gifts but, if you’re feeling the pinch, then there are plenty of ways to be creative and thoughtful without splashing cash. 

Fran encourages using your skills when it comes to gifts. "Why not offer services if they are relevant instead, such as baking desserts or giving the bridal party beauty treatments if you are a beautician, for example," she suggests. There’s nothing better than a personal touch that the host will remember for years to come.

For more tips and suggestions on how to stay sociable on a budget during celebration season, grab a copy of Money Talks: A Lifestyle Guide to Financial Wellbeing now. 

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