Some people may have the luxury of going out and not worrying how much money they are spending on food, drinks, or some form of entertainment. Many people don’t get to do this, however. Luckily, having a social life and a good time does not mean you have to break the bank. It is possible to spend less money and still go out with friends without bailing with the line, “I’m on a budget.” With some planning and creative thinking, you can be sneakily frugal while staying on track with your budget and still ending the night with money to spare. Here are some ways to save:
1. Check for drink and appetizer specials
Many restaurants will offer deals on drinks or specials at certain times of the day or week. Do some research on which places offer two for ones or money off during happy hour and then suggest this to your friends.
2. Buy low in restaurants
Similar to the last point, when going out to eat, choose appetizers as desserts as meals in order to only spend a percentage of what an entree costs and make your time there last longer. For instance, if an appetizer is $10 and an entree is $30, you could go out to eat three times for the cost of a single meal.
3. Pay with cash
Paying with cash makes it a lot easier to save your money. You can’t overspend what you don’t have. With this being said, make sure you also have enough money in case of an emergency or getting home.
4. Drink before you get to the bar
Prior to going to a bar with friends or some other social event, pretend that it’s college once again and you are pre-gaming. Invite friends over for some type of “cocktail hour” and have them bring their own alcohol, before going to the restaurant or event.
5. Get your meal to go
Choose to order your meal for take-out from the restaurant instead of sitting down there. If you do this, you won’t have to tip a waiter or get sucked into ordering multiple drinks. You can take your food to your couch, a park, or the beach and enjoy the scenery while eating your delicious food.
Look into different opportunities or events that you can volunteer at. This way, you don’t have to pay for a ticket to attend an event or festival, but you still get to attend and partake in the festivities. Especially if the event is run by the community or by a non-profit, there will most likely be open slots for volunteers to help day-of. If an event doesn’t have a specific link or page to sign up as a volunteer, call the number or email the address listed on the website. You can even try to get your friends to volunteer with you, making the process even more fun.
7. Use coupons
Many online ordering sites or even specific restaurants will offer online coupons or some deal like getting a free appetizer if you buy an entree, download an app, or sign up for an email list. Sites such as Groupon offer multiple coupons for everything from restaurants to movies to facials.
8. Avoid going to the movies if you can
These days, movie tickets will most likely cost $12+. If you can avoid going to spend quality time with the big screen, do so and watch something on a streaming platform such as Netflix or Hulu. You can invite your friends, make popcorn, and lie in the comfort of your own home. Even movies that have just been released on-demand from the theatre cost a fraction of the price of going to the movie theatre in person. If you do have to go for some reason, bring your own snacks with you and buy your ticket online. Sites such as Swagbucks can help you accumulate points by filling our surveys which can then go towards buying things such as movie tickets.
9. Avoid wine, cocktails, and hard liquor
When at a bar or a restaurant, try to order beer if you want or need to order some type of alcohol. Most of the time, beer will be a lot cheaper than mixed drinks or wine.
10. Pay with a cash-back or rewards credit card
Certain credit cards will give you anywhere between 1% and 5% cash back on purchases made in a restaurant. In addition, many travel rewards credit card offer two points for every dollar spent at restaurants.
With a little creative thinking, the possibilities for low-budget and even free ways to have fun with your friends are endless. In the end, it will also cause you and your wallet a lot less stress which is better for everyone in the long run. In addition, if you are having a good time, you won’t even think about the fact that you are “budgeting” or being “frugal.” Saving money doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. Yes, it might mean a little more preparation and research, but you can still try new things, enjoy good food, and spend quality time with your friends.