Not everyone makes enough money to go out to every new trendy bar every night, imbibe in food and drink, pay for a cab home, and still be able to afford rent and groceries (a plight which I am all too aware of). But that doesn’t mean having a social life and saving some money each month are mutually exclusive concepts.
It’s actually possible to have both! Here’s how to maintain your social life without breaking the bank (too much):
Budget for It
If you know you’re the kind of person to go out twice a week, work it into your budgeted expenses. The caveat is that the money you budget for your social life has to come from somewhere else, so you may have to give up your daily coffee splurge or weekly H&M pick-me-up. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to have it all in a few years after a promotion or two.
Look for Deals
Sites like Groupon and LivingSocial are full of fun events, activities and coupons that can help you save a lot of money while still giving you the opportunity to let loose. Check out one of the sites before your next night out to see if there are any great deals you and your friends can take advantage of. This is also a great way to vary your routines a bit and try some new restaurants you wouldn’t normally try.
No, staying home doesn’t mean you have to sit alone sadly watching “The Notebook” with your cat. Have your friends over! Host a game night, pot luck, clothing swap, or any other fun apartment party and invite a bunch of people– it’s almost guaranteed to be cheaper than a night out.
Plus, some of your friends are likely looking for ways to avoid breaking the bank as well. Everyone will appreciate the chance to stay in, save money, and still have a lot of fun. You can even make it a weekly ritual and alternate who hosts each time.
Save While You’re Out
When you do go out with everyone, keep your budget in mind. Plan on pre-gaming a bit before you get started, and eat at home to avoid paying for food. Ask the places you’re going if they have any drink specials, and order whatever’s cheapest– oh, and skip the cab and take a bus or train home instead. It may not be the most sophisticated way to go out, but you’ll definitely save a few bucks along the way!
Find Free Events
Do a quick Google search for free events in your city and see what pops up. In Chicago (where I live), there are cheap or free events all the time, whether it’s a complimentary day at the museum or a neighborhood food or music festival during the summer. And not only are these events free, they’re also usually a lot of fun and always give me and my friends opportunities to try new things and explore our city a bit.
Often, groups of friends are used to ordering a few apps for the table and splitting bills evenly. Unfortunately, if all you’ve ordered is a salad and a water, this could mean you’re paying a lot more than you should be.
Though it’s hard to talk finances with friends, the next time you’re out stand up for yourself (and your bank account). A simple, “I’m on a tight budget this week, so I think I’ll skip the appetizers this time,” is just assertive enough without making anyone feel bad.
And remember: If you’re not up for spending even a dime, a night in with you, your cat and Netflix can be relaxing and very enjoyable (I say this from experience).