I joined a book club last year, partly because I love to read, but mainly to get out and meet people.
At the time, it seemed perfect. It's a great group of women, most are smart and like to talk, and we have enough varied interests and experiences to always have something to talk about and to always learn from each other. The best thing is that it was free. This was a big thing because I am on a very tight budget. I could tell by the clothes, cars, and conversation that most of the other members were upper-middle class or better, but it never made a big difference.
I think that's all changing. In the interest of keeping members and being more fun, the group leader just announced that we are changing from meeting at the library or a coffee shop to a more activity-based club. Before, the main meeting was at a free location and a few members would sometimes go out for drinks afterward. I usually couldn't afford to, but I didn't feel that I missed so much because I was still able to be part of the main event.
Now, each person is supposed to take a month and pick a book to read and an activity to go along with it. this could be pretty cool, but almost all of the activities being mentioned cost $20-30 or more. Our next meeting is going to involve a $40 tasting and tour at a local winery, our Christmas party will be at a $30-40+ country club buffet, and most of the group wants to do an event that involves a long drive and costs $95 a person. I don't want to be the one to ruin everyone else's fun or keep bringing up the cost, because I feel like people will assume I'm being cheap, but I really cannot afford this stuff every month and I hate that I will have to drop out.
At the same time, I don't know how to explain because I don't think the other people even understand what I mean when I say I can't afford things. I've already gotten confused looks when I said I couldn't afford other trips with some people in the group, where I declined because even thought it was "only" $10-15 for the event, I couldn't afford half a tank of diesel and the cost of a meal on the way there or back, too.
Seriously, I hate to be that person but I don't see a way to work around it. One thing mentioned was to host the meeting at your house, which a few people have done, but that also assumes certain things. The people who have hosted have all had nice houses in nice neighborhoods, with dining rooms and spaces for entertaining. Everyone also wants all events to be "no children". So, my house is out of the question - I live in a smallish doublewide with stains and worn through spots in the carpet and in need or more than a few repairs, in a somewhat run-down neighborhood, with no dining room and not much space for entertaining. I also have a child at home and do not have a babysitter, much less money to pay one, just so I can have people over for the evening.
What I hate about all this is that people don't get it. If I try to explain all this most of them will just assume it's not that bad and I can somehow afford to do this, when I can't (part of the reason I stay broke is trying to keep up with friends who have more money to spare than I do). I also have a feeling that I'm going to come across as cheap or antisocial when I can't keep spending money on stuff or going to all these things. I was finally making some new friends and I guess this puts an end to it.