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5 Ways to Use Your Friends for Fun and Profit

Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/britannia/2471752889

I recently received an email from a college buddy and former football teammate regarding our alma mater’s upcoming fall classic with our school’s arch rival. Yes, I played college ball and have the knees to prove it. About fifty of my former teammates and some boosters of the program were on the email string. Basically, along with regular guy talk and crude remembrances of embarrassing moments long gone, there was the point of the email which was to organize hotel reservations and a tailgate party for the weekend of the upcoming game.

My buddy who initiated the email, the resourceful guy that he is booked 20 rooms at a local hotel to ensure any of us who wanted to go would have a cheap room to stay. Not to mention a place to crash after too much beer and bratwurst at the tailgate. But the email got me to thinking of other ways to have fun and profit by banding together with others.

1. Group Discounts

I just mentioned one form of group discount – savings on hotel and travel. But group discounts do not have to be reserved to destination weddings and weekend hotel reservations for the big game. Discounts can be had in almost any situation. Want a little nip and tuck? Get a couple of friends together and have your surgery on the same day with the same doctor. Want to save on insurance rates? Often groups such as employers, alumni associations and other clubs have worked out group discount rates with a particular insurance agency.  You might save anywhere from 5-20% as a result of a group rate discount.

2. Investment Clubs

Joining an investment club seems so ‘90s. The costs of investing in the stock market have dramatically fallen over the last decade and financial news and information seems like it’s everywhere. This blog is a good example. However, significant costs to investing still exist. Investment clubs help to spread those costs over several individuals. However, this is not the only benefit to joining or forming a club. Besides the money cost benefits, are the educational and social benefits of the club. You may find your club mates saving you from costly investment mistakes you may have made on your own.

3. Price Clubs

Discount price clubs, like Sam’s Club a division of Walmart (WMT), BJ’s Wholesale (BJ) and Costco (COST), offer a prime opportunity to save on purchases made repeatedly. The stores essentially allow you to pool your consumer dollar with a few million of your like minded “friends”. The result is googobs of savings. I have belonged to Costco for a number of years and recover my membership fee within the first few purchases of bottled water, chicken breasts and orange juice.

You can even take this a little further by starting a bulk-buying co-op with your friends and neighbors. Basically, you can share your or share someone else’s membership. Whenever one of you makes a trek to the club, you simply double, triple or quadruple buy your items and distribute them amongst your partners. Although doing it this way may cut down on your fun quotient, it will definitely up the savings quotient.

4. Carpools

I hate carpools. Not because they don’t save money but they can be a little inconvenient. That said, I have always opted to either drive myself or alternatively, have taken public transportation to work. But for many, carpooling makes sense. If you find yourself driving 15 or more miles to work everyday and you live within 2 to 5 miles of a coworker or two, you should consider sharing a ride.

According to the Department of Energy, as of today (August 25th) a gallon of gas is $3.69 per gallon. A quick calculation says a person that works 15 miles from work and whose car gets $20 miles to the gallon will spend almost $1,400 per year simply traveling to and from work. Feel free to check my math. With budgets tight it seems to make sense to spread those costs to three others if you can. Besides saving money and the environment you will be cutting down on the frequency of your road rage, given you will now be sharing the driving duties.

5. Team Sports

Ok, ok. Ya got me. Some of these things do not necessarily seem all that fun. But they will save you time and money in most cases. So number 5 will be all about using the money you have saved and the time you have freed up to simply have some fun. Why not participate in a team sport? Try a bowling league or a softball team. And let us not forget one of the greatest team sports there is – roller derby! With team names like the Hissy Fits, how could it not be fun?

Disclosure: I and the clients of Brick Financial did not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of this writing.

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