Valuing friendships is a bigger indicator of health and happiness at older ages than valuing family relationships. Young adults can set that foundation now, and what you do — and how much you spend — won’t matter. Here is how to cultivate long friendships when you are short on cash.

Volunteer together

Pick something you both care about, such as animal welfare, the environment or veterans’ issues, and research local organizations that focus on them.

Sign up for an opportunity that takes place every week or month to keep you engaged in the organization, and to give you and your friends a hangout to look forward to.

And there is a bonus — it just feels nice to help people.


Join the club

You can start a monthly book club, wine club, hiking club, group playdate for your friends’ dogs — you name it. All it takes is a leader willing to send out a reminder e-mail and gather everyone’s availability through a method like Doodle.

Many book clubs keep going strong for years, and the “club” part often turns out to be way more important to members than the “book” part.

Nab discounts for young people

Many cultural institutions want young people in the audience — they are hoping you will buy tickets for years to come.

Look into younger than-30 or younger than-35 discount ticket programs where you live, particularly at dance or theater performances. Some might require a small yearly membership fee, but if you like to see shows often, the fee will pay for itself.

Cook when solo

Budget for fun the way you would for groceries, and you can spend it without guilt.

If you simply must meet friends for dinner four times a week, look at your spending holistically — a budgeting app can help — and make cuts elsewhere. Bring lunch to work every day. Or, when you’re home alone, commit to making your own meals and avoiding takeout.


Get crafty

If you know how to knit or crochet, no one is stopping you from doing it with a friend.

You can get a group together and sketch while listening to music, or spend a night repurposing old clothes that you don’t wear so they are summer-ready.

Saving money usually requires forethought. The same goes for suggesting an activity beyond, “let’s get drinks.”