When you’re on a budget, there’s always this conflict of “Do I go out and have fun or stay home and save?”. On one hand you want to be financially responsible because you have goals to achieve. But it’s hard to say no to every invite when you see how much fun everyone else is having. It’s almost like life is just passing you by. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can have an active social life and healthy bank account, you just need a good game plan.
Only carry cash
The next time you go out, fill your wallet with cash and leave the credit cards at home. Credit cards are great if you’re disciplined but it makes it easier to overspend which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid. You may start the night with the intention of only spending X amount of dollars. But once the drinks start flowing, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to use your better judgement. Don’t even bother taking the risk. Before meeting up with your friends, make a pit stop at the ATM to withdraw the cash you’ll need. Stick to an ATM within your network so you don’t get charged any unnecessary fees.
Choose free or cheap activities
Many cities have free events such as parades, concerts, art exhibits and other cool stuff. Do a quick search to see what’s happening in your area then invite your friends to tag along. If nothing really tickles your fancy, you can always go on Groupon. They have thousands of discounted activities, so you’re bound to find something. For an added bonus, download a cashback app like Ibotta or Rakuten. If you go through their portal, you can earn cashback when you make a purchase on Groupon. We recommend checking both places then going with the best offer. Don’t forget, many places also have various discounts for teachers, students, senior citizens and military members.
Search for food deals
When it comes to saving money on food, there are many tricks you can use to cut corners. First, you can meet for lunch instead of dinner. The menu will be similar, but the portion and price tag will be smaller. If you and your friends love sweets, then skip the entrees and get dessert. Happy hour is another good option. Head to your local bar or restaurant for discounted drinks and appetizers. Lastly, you can score free or discounted treats by taking advantage of food holidays like Free Slurpee Day and National Coffee Day. There are plenty that pop up throughout the year. Research a few upcoming ones, mark your calendar and invite some friends.
Avoid paying cover fees
Some bars and nightclubs don’t charge a cover fee if you get there before midnight. So, make it your business to arrive early. The party may be a little dead around that time but who cares. You got in for free and it will pick up as the night progresses. If you have friends who are DJ’s or promoters, try to get on their guest list. In exchange for your free admission, you may be asked to help promote their event on your social media.
Find a designated driver
For many people, a night out means liquor will be involved. Always choose a designated driver before leaving home. Driving under the influence is dangerous, illegal and can be expensive if you’re caught by the police. On average, a DUI can cost around $10,000 due to the fines, attorney and other associated fees. Grabbing a cab is much cheaper. Plus, you can split the fare equally if everyone is heading back to your place at the end of the night.
Pre-game at home
Remember back in college, when you pre-gamed with your friends before a night out? Grab your red Solo cups and recreate the memory. Bars are notorious for marking up their drink costs between 20 to 30 percent. To save money, you and your friends can chip in for a case of beer or bottle of liquor to start the party at home. Then hit the streets afterwards. Again, we want to emphasize that you need to pick a designated driver or call a cab because nobody wants to end up dead or in jail due to drunk driving.
Don’t open a bar tab
A lot of times when you go to a bar, the bartender will ask if you want to open a tab, politely refuse. If it’s a busy night, the bartender may not remember who’s in your group and add someone else’s drinks to your bill. Depending on how much liquor you’ve consumed, you may not even notice the mistake until it’s too late. Plus, some places require a minimum purchase when you open a tab. So, you may end up spending more than you planned.