I remember one night I went out with some friends thinking that it was going to be a fairly tame and inexpensive night. 5 games of pool, 3 beers, and 3 bottles of expensive liquor in a private room with my friends later, and I, along with most of my friends, were out of A LOT of money.
Going out with friends doesn’t always have to break your budget. A lot of people, myself included, spend way too much when they go out and it’s not hard to see why. There are so many temptations when you’re going out. You can get an appetizer before your main meal, a steak meal instead of a less expensive pasta dish, two drinks, or that special the restaurant has for supersizing your drink. There are so many options to choose from when you’re out that cost more money than you should be spending, but there are ways to not fall into those traps and avoid overspending.
Here are a few ways that you can save money while out with friends:
Eat before you go out
This could be a no-brainer, but if you’re going out with some friends and you know that you can’t resist the jalapeno poppers and chicken alfredo pasta dishes at the restaurant, it makes sense to eat beforehand so you can order less when you’re out.
You don’t want to be rude by going to a restaurant and not ordering anything, or by being that person who picks at everyone’s food, so it’s good to be prepared. If you eat a bit before you go out, you might only be hungry enough for just an appetizer OR an entree. It’s a good way to save $20+ when you’re eating out for dinner.
Go out somewhere less expensive
A good way to make sure that you spend within your budget when you’re out is to go to a restaurant or bar where the prices aren’t too high. If the average entree is $50 at a restaurant, you’ll be hard pressed to spend less than that. You don’t always have to go for a gourmet meal when you’re with friends. Sometimes it’s better to go to Swiss Chalet or get some good ol’ diner food instead of some fancy meal that considerably lightens your wallet.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a BIG advocate for nice meals. Knowing the time to go for one is key. It’s all about moderation – and moderation in moderation. Is it your anniversary with your significant other? Probably a good time for a nice fancy meal. Are you celebrating graduating from a Masters program? Good time to go. Are you celebrating because you just bought a new laptop? Maybe a good time for a quarter chicken dinner if you must.
Leave your cards at home
It’s no secret – people who go out with credit cards or debit cards spend more than people who buy with cash. If you’re going out to a restaurant with your cards, you always have the option of getting one more thing. It’s easy to tap your credit card when you want one more drink, or another order of jalapeno poppers. It’s even scarier that you can do this when you have no money in your bank and only room on your credit card, but that’s a discussion for another time. My point is that it’s very easy to get carried away and overspend at restaurants or bars when you have a credit card or debit card. You have almost no limit to what you can buy just by tapping a bit of plastic. That’s a difficult temptation to overcome.
You can overcome this temptation by simply not putting yourself in the situation where you’ll be tempted! It’s the same way people on diets stay strong. You can’t eat the cake if you don’t bring it into your home. Not all of us have that willpower, but I digress. By leaving any credit cards and debit cards at home, you eliminate the possibility that you will overspend. If you only bring $40 with you, well, you can’t spend more than $40! It’s a simple solution, really.
Be the designated driver
A lot of the time, when I’m trying to save a bit of money while going out with my friends, I’ll be the driver to the bar. Why? It’s simple. If I drive, I won’t drink, and drinks are where a lot of my money goes when I’m out. Think about it – how many drinks do you usually have when you’re out? 2? 3? 5? Depending on where you go, that could be over $50 spent just on alcohol. If you replace each of those with a water, or maybe a soda at least, you’re saving lots of money over the whole night.
It’s sometimes hard to not be tempted to buy a drink when you go out. You might get pressured by your friends, or feel left out, or just get into the groove of drinking just by being around other people who are. The best way to take yourself out of that temptation, you guessed it, be the designated driver.
Buy less expensive drinks
I get it, sometimes at the end of a hard week, you really need that rye and ginger to get yourself through the night. Do you need to order the cocktails or expensive drinks every time that you’re out? Probably not. Those of you who don’t like beer, I’m sorry for what I’m about to say – beer is typically cheaper than cocktails. Not always, but usually that is true. Even better, some beer is usually cheaper than others. You don’t always need to get that craft lager brewed by monks in Indonesia that’s chai flavoured and triple filtered through silk – get a Canadian or a Budweiser now and then. Depending on the beer, the domestic beers can be half the price. That’s a big saving over a few drinks.
Don’t get me wrong, I buy myself the premium beer sometimes too. I get myself a caesar every now and then as well. I just don’t do that everytime I go out. It’s not going to make a huge difference on your bill every time, but if you start switching up the drinks you have to less expensive ones, you’ll see an impact over time.
Buy fewer drinks
I know what you’re thinking – “that doesn’t sound fun” – but you can make it fun! If you have a couple drinks before you go out, you won’t have as many when you’re out. University and college students master the pre-drink well, but just because you’re out of school doesn’t mean that you can’t partake in the fun (unless you’re the driver, of course).
Even if you don’t pre-drink before heading out, you can still just buy fewer drinks. Yes, I know that it sounds impossible, but it can be done! Before you go out, set a number of drinks that you’ll have and don’t have any more. Even if your best friend wants to do one more shot of tequila before heading home, say no! Pocket that extra money and go home.
There are so many ways to cut down on costs while you’re out beyond what I’ve listed above. Skip the steak and go for the burger and fries. Take a bus to the bar instead of a taxi. Go for happy hour instead of regular times. Share food with your friends. The savings aren’t always going to be huge every single time you go out, but when you add everything up over time, they will make a difference.
Do you have anything to suggest for this list? Is there anything you do that I might have missed here? Leave a comment and let me know!
Thanks for reading, eh!