Sure, it feels good to go out and not worry about how much money you’re spending, but not everyone has that luxury. Fortunately, having a good time doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank. With a little planning and creative thinking, you can have a great night out and still have a few dollars left in your pocket at the end of the night.
1. Pay with cash.
If you bring only what you’re willing to part with, you can’t overspend. Be sure you bring enough for transportation home.
2. Check for drink and appetizer specials.
Some offer their own specialty drinks on certain nights or specials during specific times. They don’t call it “happy hour” for nothing!
3. Take advantage of coupons.
Many restaurants will give you online coupons or free appetizers for signing up for their email list, filling out a survey, or downloading their app. Deal sites such as Groupon have many great offers for everything from restaurants to massages.
4. Get it to go.
Get your meal to go from your favorite restaurant. You’ll save money on the tip, and drinks won’t drive up the cost of your bill. Make it a cozy movie night at home in front of the TV or have a picnic in the park or on the beach if the weather’s right!
5. Stick to beer.
It’s usually cheaper than wine or mixed drinks.
6. Get discounted gift cards.
Apps such as Cardpool allow people to buy unwanted gift cards and sell them for discounted rates, some as much as 35% off.
7. Share some appetizers.
If you’re going out with a few people, split a few appetizers instead of buying full meals. You’ll feel satisfied and come home with a few bucks in your wallet.
8. Drink water before you go.
You’ll feel fuller and will be more likely to order a smaller meal. If you’re drinking alcohol, drinking a glass of water between each drink will not only make you drink less, but the next morning you’ll feel less dehydrated and hung over as well.
9. Go out on a Monday or a Tuesday.
These are the slowest nights for bars and restaurants, so these are usually the nights when you’ll find the best specials.
10. Think outside the box.
Skip expensive concerts and find a bar where musicians play. It’s a great way to discover new music. Instead of a pricey Broadway play, find a local theater production. Check local bookstores for author visits or talks and go out for drinks after to discuss them. Museums sometimes offer night programs, and planetariums often have stargazing nights. During the summer months, parks often have free concerts, plays, and outdoor movies. The possibilities are endless.
Saving money is a lot easier if you’re having fun while you’re doing it; and, contrary to popular belief, having a tight budget doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have a good time. It may take a little preparation and imagination, but it’s possible to stay on budget and still enjoy great food, fun times, and maybe a new adventure!