Dear Thrive: Why Do I Have to Spend to Make Friends?

Welcome to Thrive! A weekly advice column for creatives and the generally confused.

Dear Thrive,
I work full time, but I am always too broke to really go out. What’s a good way to meet people that doesn’t involve spending much money or no money at all?

Cheap Thrills

Dear Cheap Thrills,

It can sometime seem like the only way to meet people (or even see your current friends) is to go out and drop a bunch of money on drinks and overpriced appetizers (that are mostly just sodium anyway). I’ve been there and it’s a real drag– especially when you’re waiting for your next paycheck! While yes, forcing yourself to stay in means you’ll probably be working on your creative endeavors, everyone needs a break to refresh and live the life you’re going to reflect in your work. It’s a little bit more challenging to find things to do that are free or cheap, but if you’re willing to put in the extra effort, there are more options than you would think!

Attend Readings or Open Mics
Bookstores, coffee shops, libraries, and even bars have readings or open mics every night of the week and with the exception of maybe, Barnes and Noble, they’re always free. If you have a few bucks to spare on a well-drink, head to a bar with an open mic night. You don’t have to step up and read, but you can sit and enjoy a drink and engage those around you. You could even go up to a performer you admire and introduce yourself. (Sounds tough, but most people enjoy flattery.) If moths come out of your wallet when you open it, check the reading schedule at your local library or independent bookstore. Try to get to the reading early and leave late so you can strike up a conversation with people around you. Also, make friends with the people working in the bookshop and visit often. After awhile, they’ll start to introduce you to other regulars.

Attend Free Workshops or Community Center Classes
I know this one can be a little weird or scary so for the first round, so bring a close friend who is willing to try something new with you. Community centers, libraries, and non-profits often offer free classes throughout the month. For example, in NYC the NY Writer’s Coalition offers public workshops every month open to anyone. NaNoWriMo has writing sessions all over the country during the month of November and most sessions offer an optional social piece after the session is over. Art schools offer free painting or drawing classes to the public as well. Start researching groups around you and jump on board. You’ll meet a lot of like-minded folks.

Join a Local Club
Hit up and search for a club or group that matches your interests. operates all over the world and there is sure to be a group that meets your needs for meeting new people. Some groups may catch-up over drinks or a meal, so make sure you look at their calendar of events and try to pick out their cheaper sessions like trips to the park, or dinner at an apartment. And please, totally bring a friend if you’re choosing to go to an apartment for the first time!

Join a Entrepreneur Group like Rising Tide
Rising Tide  is a community for creative entrepreneurs with groups all over the US. Groups meet every second Tuesday of the month. Yep, that’s right, every group in every state meets the same night with the same (or similar) agenda and talking points. Sessions are focused on topics like building a web presence or getting a hang of social media to convert customers. There’s also time to network. Most groups meet somewhere neutral with nothing expensive tied to them.

I hope these suggestions give you a great starting point to meeting new people without breaking the bank. Remember, no other creative wants to spend a ton of money getting to know someone, so always feel empowered to suggest a walk in the park, or a cup of tea instead of martinis. Your new friend will probably love you even more for the cheaper suggestion! Happy Friend Finding!

THRIVE is answered by Amanda Kusek, a poet, blogger, and dog mom living in NYC.

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