Ladies, Spring is here and we all know what that means. The weather is warming up and our squad will be constantly hitting us up to hang out. And who doesn't want to take advantage of all that sunshine and fresh air? But we also want to be smart about our spending habits. It may not seem like it, but there are ways to have fun with friends and save money at the same time. All you have to do is add a little creativity and enthusiasm, and bam! You've got yourself the perfect friend-date for the Spring!

1. Backyard Picnic

Photo: Travel Link

Instead of wasting gas and driving out to some crowded park, invite your girls over for a backyard picnic! Break out the wine glasses and finger foods. The menu can be simple. Anything from crackers and cheese, chips and guacamole, or some sliced fruit and yogurt. For the drinks, have your friend bring a pack of wine coolers or something bubbly, like sparkling water. This is a group effort, ladies.

For a picnic blanket, beach towels will suffice if you don't own one. Use your own flatware and dishes instead of buying paper goods. It'll add a bit of class to the affair. Speaking of which, making a playlist on your phone beforehand will boost the atmosphere of your picnic from the backyard to the venue. Make sure the music is something mellow. Even just an instrumental will do. This is quality time with the girls, so you'll want the music just as an extra flare. Make sure you can actually talk and catch up on each other's lives.

2. Dinner at Home

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Eating in is one of the best ways to save money. Sure, going out to eat is a nice change of pace, but cooking for yourself can just as exhilarating. Shoot your best friend a text and ask to meet up at the grocery store to purchase the ingredients for your favorite dish. Once you've picked everything up, you'll be spending way less than you would be at some restaurant.

A dinner for two at T.G.I Friday's could end up being around fifty or even sixty dollars when your groceries can cost you under forty dollars depending on the dish. For example, chicken tacos can be an easy fix. All you'll need is a chicken breast, red onions, celery, sweet peppers, tomatoes, soft tortillas, olive oil, and sauce.

You and your friend can bond over preparing and cooking the meal together. But the best part will be eating it after its done, then taking the leftovers to work on Monday.

3. Happy Hour at Home

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Skip those after-work trip to the bars and cocktail lounges and have happy hour at your place. Let's be honest, depending on where you go, the price of happy hour drinks varies. Shots of tequila for a dollar or two sounds good until you realize it isn't the brand you like. Your glass is more ice than it is alcohol, the bartender takes forever to serve you due to the massive crowd, and by the time you get a slight buzz, happy hour is over and the drinks have gone back to the original price.

Just avoid all that inconvenience and buy a bottle of your favorite drink. Tell your lady friends to do the same and you can have your own happy hour at home. No waiting to be served, crowds, or watered down drinks. Kick your feet up and throw on your pajamas instead of being in work attire. Having your own happy hour means you can also experiment and mix your own drinks. But be careful. Unless you're a licensed mixologist, it'd be best to look up some recipes online to try out.

4. Gardening

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Whether you have a green thumb or not, it's easier than you think to start your own garden. And before you start thinking about how dirty your nails will get or how much of a pain it'll be to dig holes in the ground, just know that you and the girls don't have to become full-time farmers. Dollar store pots, cheap seeds from Home Depot, and a bag of soil from Walmart are all you'll really need. Starting three potted plants can cost you well under $20. The most expensive item will likely be your soil depending on the brand.

Your plants will become like your babies. You and your friends can have a contest to see who's blooms first. That's how you'll know who was the best plant-mommy for the six months it takes most flowers to bloom. The best part about starting your own potted plants is decorating the pots! You and the squad can take some craft paint and personalize your pots, creating a cozy home, made with love for your flowers.

5. Movie at Home 

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Toss some popcorn in the microwave, drizzle it with a little butter and salt. Get cozy and ready for a stay at home movie night your girlfriends. You can decide which streaming service to use. Try looking up what's just been added to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video. Perhaps there's a film from Oscars you've been dying to see, but never got around to it this past winter.

If you're feeling really retro, you could even try digging three that old neglected box of DVDs you haven't touched in forever. Maybe tonight is the night everyone wants to get emotional and nostalgic so you pop an old Disney classic in. You'll be amazed at how many times you and your friends break out into song and catch the feels. It'll make you feel like you're taking a much-needed break from adulting to be a child again.

6. Thrifting

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Yes, you can turn on that Macklemore song because you and the squad are going thrifting! Now, turn off that boujee mindset of yours for a second. Think about all the money you'll be saving. Not all thrift stores are like the one from around the way. Try going to a Goodwill or a shop in the city. They tend to have a much better selection of clothes, shoes, and accessories. Just remember that no matter how good the clothes look, you should still always wash them before wearing. They are still secondhand pieces.

If you're still on the fence about trying this, maybe hardcore thrifting isn't for you. But you've lucked up, girl! Because there is an alternative! Places like Buffalo Exchange want your old clothes, so you and your friends can all clean out your closet. Put all the articles of clothing you no longer want or can't fit into your favorite totes and bring them to Buffalo Exchange to earn cash or store credit! So you're not spending money, you're making it. How much more affordable can your friend-date get?

7. Board Games

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Remember those board games you used to play in grade school when it was raining outside, and the class couldn't go out for recess? You can still play those with your friends as adults, and the best part is you'll actually know how to play this time around! Games like Monopoly, Uno, Life, and Sorry can be pretty fun to play as an adult. However, if you feel like that's a bit too juvenile, you can always try a game like Taboo or Cards Against Humanity.

Of course, we all know us girls like to get a little naughty and mischievous when we're around friends. If you really want to, it wouldn't hurt to add a little grown-up juice to the mix. You can make any game a drinking game, but please use your discretion. Drink responsibly. If you feel yourself or any of your friends getting a little too lit, make sure to tune it down for the night. We want to have fun, but we also want to be safe.

Whatever it is you and your squad end up deciding to do, remember that this time together is special. When you meet good people, hold on to them. True friendship doesn't come around every day. So cherish those in your life that help you turn lemons into lemonade…but not that expensive vegan kind that Beyoncé drinks. Try the two dollar bottles instead. Remember sis, we're trying to save money. 

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