How Good Relationships Can Save You Lots Of Money

Now that I'm on a quest to save money and improve my cash flow, I've stumbled upon some new ways to save that I hadn't really considered before. Let me share with you my latest realization about how good relationships can help you save money.

One of my expenses is a $180/month private sports club membership, which I find highly valuable for my well-being and happiness. Being able to play tennis and pickleball indoors, especially when it's raining, feels like great value.

Before moving to San Francisco in 2001, I lived in Manhattan where it cost $60/hour back then to play on an indoor court. Today, accessing such indoor courts easily costs $100/hour.

Despite feeling like I'm getting great value for $180/month, I recently realized that I could still enjoy indoor tennis and pickleball while paying less. The strategy? Simply be a guest of a member.

Befriending A Club Member To Save Money

Since I joined sports clubs in 2002, I've always been the one inviting guests to my club to play. I'd always pay the guest fee and provide balls, so it never really occurred to me to not be a member and just be a guest.

I'm the guy who always tries to pay for a meal when there is a party of four or less. It's the way I was taught growing up in Taiwan and Malaysia, watching my parents always fight for the bill. As a result, having someone pay for me feels off, like my Provider's Clock suddenly broke.

Furthermore, relying on a member to play is inconvenient. I want the autonomy to go whenever I want, similar to how I want financial independence to do what I want.

Having to rely on a member to play is like having a spouse relying on their partner for money. Financial dependence is suboptimal as a grown adult, which is why I think it's best for each couple to have joint and separate bank accounts.

The Better Way To Save Money Thanks To Good Relationships

I'm assuming most of you would feel uncomfortable being permanent moochers as well. Therefore, the easiest solution is to befriend a member of a club you'd like to play in and insist on paying the guest fee.

At my club, a guest pass costs $30 for a day. Not cheap, especially if you have more than one guest to pay for. As a result, most members simply play with other members to avoid incurring a guest fee.

Considering I pay $180/month to be a member of this club, I'd have to go six times a month every month for 12 months just to break even. I didn't think about this math until a fellow pickleballer told me he's dropping his membership after his baby is born.

But here's the thing: I only go to my club once a week on average, which comes out to $120/month if I was a guest who paid for four guest passes. One of the main reasons why I go so infrequently is because I play at public parks nearby with other players.

Just Be A Friendly Guest

Since I've been a member for a while now, I know dozens of other members at the club.

I'm also part of large WhatsApp chat groups full of members always asking to arrange a foursome or more. I could just join as a guest and insist on paying the $30 guest fee to minimize any friction for the member. If so, I'll end up saving $60 a month if I keep up my regular cadence.

If I wanted to save more, I could just play two times a month as a guest, save $120 a month, and simply play outdoors at the public parks more often. $120 goes a long way for someone in a tight cash flow situation.

Unfortunately, to get the $180/month membership deal, I had to prepay for 12 months. So this strategy is something to think about in the future.

If You Don't Have A Good Relationship, The Strategy Can Be Weird

For this money-saving strategy to work, you need to have a good relationship with other members. Such a relationship can be developed after hitting for at least four sessions or mingling online over a three-month time period. Any less, and it gets a little awkward and the money-saving strategy might not work.

Let me illustrate with an example. A guy joined our WhatsApp group chat consisting of 100% club members after hitting with three other members as a guest. He knows the group administrator and the idea was he might one day join the club. Cool. He's a nice guy and an OK player.

However, since joining the group chat, he's asked multiple times if anybody would be up to hit with him at a specific time at our club, and he'd pay the guest fee. However, nobody responds because only 10% of the group knows who he is. In addition, the times he's suggested may not have been convenient for others.

So, even if you're willing to pay the guest fee, members need to know and like you to invite you. Take your time to build good relationships because you'll always be dependent on others to gain access if you want to save money.

Other Ways Good Relationships Can Help Save You Money

In general, we often want to make our friends happy, and if you're wealthier, you might be inclined to provide your less wealthy friends with hookups. Here are some common ways good relationships can help you save money:

  • Shoes and Apparel: It's common for friends to give each other shoes and clothing, especially if the items don't fit them or if they have extras or lightly used items they no longer wear.
  • Furniture: When moving houses, having extra furniture can be a hassle to deal with. Giving it away to friends who need it is a win-win situation, saving you the trouble of selling it and helping your friends furnish their homes for free.
  • Vacations: As you grow older and wealthier, you might have friends with vacation properties. These properties can often sit vacant for long periods, so offering free nights to friends when they're not in use is a generous gesture. Your friends would usually just cover any cleaning expenses to return the property to its original condition.
  • Car Pooling: Sharing rides to work or social events not only saves on fuel costs but also reduces carbon footprint. Many families I know take turns picking up and dropping off their neighbors' kids at school as a way to help each other out.
  • Friends and Family Plans: While streaming services like Netflix are becoming stricter about sharing accounts, there are still friends and family plans available that offer cost-effective options compared to individual plans.
  • Entertainment and Sporting Events: If you have friends with access to corporate boxes at events like NBA games, they may have extra seats available. These seats are sometimes unused, so why not fill them up by inviting a friend than letting them go to waste.

It Pays To Be Nice And Helpful To Others

If you're looking to save money, try nurturing closer friendships. Strong relationships not only bring joy but also pave the way for helpful recommendations and referrals. Just be sure to reciprocate the kindness to your friends from time to time.

Even if your friend is extremely wealthy and seemingly has everything, it's still important to reciprocate in some way. While you may not be able to match their lavish gifts, you can always offer something thoughtful in return. Something as small as buying your friend a drink or bringing an energy bar for them on the court goes a long way.

Wealthy friends may not need or want your freebies, as they often have access to nicer things and experiences. However, they will appreciate your positive gestures.

If you're aiming to save money, alleviate loneliness, and enhance your enjoyment, consider developing your emotional intelligence. Surprisingly, one of the most effective methods to attain these objectives is by offering more of your time, money, and wisdom to others. By prioritizing giving, you'll probably receive an abundance of support in return.

Reader Questions And Suggestions

How have strong relationships contributed to your money-saving efforts? What are some activities you enjoy doing for your friends that also help them save money and have a good time? And how do you ensure you're not overstepping boundaries or taking advantage of your friends' generosity? Do you think there's a correlation with angry commenters on the internet and their happiness and ability to save money?

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15 thoughts on “How Good Relationships Can Save You Lots Of Money”

  1. I agree having good friends can help occasionally to save money. But this must be more incidental and very low on priorities why you continue to sustain a great friendship for a long time. After all, you must give ostensibly something yourself to friend also. Latter, shouldn’t be so hard either, if a person isn’t always a cheapo.

    It doesn’t take much for a good friend to realize patterns of cheapness from others that they know well/for a long time.

    Yes, it helps that I have good, long-term friends across Canada to visit. But one must be judicious and gift the hosting friend when staying overnight, etc.

    I see strong, good friendships…as saving cost of mental health care. So critical and not to be taken for granted.

  2. When I first read the title to this post I thought you would mention having a good relationship with your spouse! Avoiding a divorce can save you a lot of money!

  3. A wealthy acquaintance moved and had a house full of amazing furniture in storage for years. We like to stay in contact and see how he is doing regularly. He moved again and he gifted much of his stored furniture to us. Furniture is difficult to sell (we have tried) and is difficult to donate (we have also tried) but it can make a wonderful gift. We are very grateful for it and we joke that our friend now has a “lifetime subscription” to my handyman service, and he is grateful for that. Win-win!

    1. Financial Samurai

      Having a friend who is handy is huge. Things breaking and needing to fix is one of the most common annoyances.

      Also, for you to come by and pick up the furniture is huge too. Win win indeed.

  4. Interesting take. This is our way of manage our investments.

    – Entertainment industry is a total waste of money and time. IF it is free, I would watch it, if not, not bothered!
    – live within your means. Paying interest on purchases that are “nicety” is for suckers!
    – Keep 401K and never covert it to IRA.
    – Tie your investment to DJTM. 45+ years history clearly shows 10% effective ROI.
    – The tough part is to make the 1st Million. After that, money keeps rolling in! Remember : Money makes money! :c)

    That’s it for now! Over and out!

      1. IRA does not have the same level of protection as 401K. For instance, if someone decides to sue you, they can go after your IRA but they cannot touch your 401K. Also, with 401Ks, you are under the employees’ investment umbrella not the clearing house who usually try to sell you investments for their own benefit… Likes of Van Guard and Fidelity comes to mind.

  5. I’ve found that when I try to make the strictly economical choice (e.g. paying $30 per visit versus $180 per month), I actually end up going even less. In my example, I can use my buddy’s season pass to ski for $68 /day (versus $130), or I have a season pass for $400. When I have to fork out $68 per day, I ski from first chair to last chair, skip lunch, and get my moneys worth. And I usually only go a handful of times because of the hassle of arranging to go with a pass-holding friend. But with a season pass, even if less economical, I’m able to enjoy myself, ski for a few hours, enjoy lunch with my kiddos, etc.

    It’s a tough decision.

    Having said that, if we’re talking about buying a boat versus having a buddy with a boat… well, that’s a different story!

  6. Interesting article, I think the concept is key, but you need to frame this savings of $60 off a gym membership as a simple example of how friends in life can end up generating so much more. For example if a friend lets you stay at their ski chalet for free, or recommended an investment that earned hundred of thousands. I have wondered recently why it is so nice when you know someone who give you something free or an in-kind service, even though you could have easily paid for it. Why is it so different when it is a gift versus when you pay for it? I really dont think it comes down the monetary value.. the gift symbolizes belonging, being valued, kindness, friendship and support. Which is much more important than money…

  7. Clever strategy on gaining club access for racket sports. When I was just out of college I wanted a gym membership but it was a bit too expensive for my budget. My best bud felt the same. So what we decided to do was split one membership plus guest fees between the two of us. To make things equitable and to motivate us both to work out regularly, we would always go together whenever possible. When one wanted to go but the other didn’t because we felt lazy or whatever, we forced the other to tag along. We did this for a full year and it was the most I ever went to the gym ha. It took a bit of tracking so that we wouldn’t end up paying more in 1 membership plus guest fees vs 2 memberships each month. But it wasn’t hard to do.

    Funny enough once we decided to get our own separate memberships after the first year, we ended up going less and spending more. I ended up giving up my membership altogether and switching to free outdoor exercise instead for the years that followed. I still haven’t had a membership since and things have worked out well. But I do plan to get some type of club membership once I get into my mid 50s and have more free time.

    1. I think if you used your friends memberships for a long period of time to save money they may start to feel like you are cheap. It may have some unintended consequences.

      I personally like to overpay for the most part for. The value of a relationship is worth more than a few bucks saved.

      Just my two cents…

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