One of the most common challenges people have when they're trying to cut back on expenses or start a budget is how to save money on a night out. There's a big misconception that living on a budget means you can't have fun. That couldn't be further from the truth.
You can absolutely have a fun night out and save money at the same time. Let's get to some money saving advice shall we?
1. Eat Before You Go Out
You might not be starving when you first step out the house but after some drinks, dancing and a hype atmosphere, things can change really quickly. Before you know it you're craving fries, a burger and anything else you can buy quickly.
Save yourself some money by eating at home before your leave. In our post on food subscription boxes, we talked about how much you can save by cooking your own food. On top of saving money, you can also make something a lot healthier than the food you'll find at places open past midnight.
If you find yourself in a position where you do end up ordering something to eat (peer pressure!) then save money on food by asking someone to split an entree with you, or just order an appetizer.
2. Look for Specials
A lot of bars, clubs and other venues have deals on certain days of the week like $2 tacos or discounted beers. Plan your nights out around these deals.
It's also a great way to try a bunch of new places. Look at sites like Living Social, Groupon or even Meetup.com to find local events and deals. Also try asking around at the places you usually go to. Most people that frequent bars know of all the best deals.
Just make sure you look up reviews for any place you go to. Some places offer deep discounts because it's the only way they can get people in the doors. A quick Yelp or Google search can save you from having a horrible night because you were trying to save a few bucks.
3. Avoid Cocktails & Fancy Drinks
You might like the taste of cocktails and wine, but your bank account might not like the price. These drinks are typically the most expensive things you can get at a bar, and the more you drink the more you end up spending.
If you want to get some alcohol, opt for a beer. Depending on where you go beer is a cheap way to get your fix. You just have to be cautious of not drinking too many or you'll end spending the same amount you would've on fancy liquors!
4. Don't Drink
I'm fortunate enough to not be a drinker, so I'm able to save a crap ton of money. If you like to go to bars but don't want to spend a bunch of money on alcohol, try getting a ginger ale or club soda.
Club soda is a classic trick for people who don't drink but don't want to feel "judged" for not drinking. Nobody will have any idea you're not drinking alcohol. As long as you have a cup in your hand most people won't pressure you.
5. Bring Cash
It's easy to get out of control while you're bar hopping or at different clubs and restaurants if you're swiping your card. But here's an awesome tip on how to save money on a night out --- Bring cash!
Set your budget for the night beforehand. Then withdraw that amount from the ATM and use it as your spending money. When you run out of cash, call it a night and head home.
This tactic will stop you from spending more than you can afford while still being able to have a good time. The trick is to have the self control to resist pulling out your credit or debit card when you're out of cash.
I'd suggest leaving your cards at home, but you never know when you'll need them in an emergency so that's not an option for most people. Just restrain yourself!
6. Use Cheap Transit
Transportation is usually completely overlooked when you're thinking of how to save money on a night out. If you plan on drinking, make sure you have a plan for how you're going to get home. Don't be an idiot and think you can drink and drive.
Uber and Lyft are nice, but it can make your night more expensive than necessary. Here are a few cheaper alternatives:
- Take the train: If your city has a train system, it's probably the cheapest way to get around. Just make sure you're being safe taking the train at night.
- Have a designated driver: If one of your friends doesn't drink or is willing to be the designated driver, you'll be able to save on the cost of transportation completely. Decide on who's going to be the DD before you head out for the night though.
- Uber Pool: For the Uber lovers, you can save money by using the pool option. When you're requesting the Uber, select the pool option. It basically tells Uber that you're willing to have the driver pick up other passengers during your ride and you'll split the cost. Here's the thing. If the Uber doesn't end up picking up anyone else you still pay the lower rate!
- Go local: This will depend on where you live. But if you have a lot of nightlife within walking distance, spend some time in your own neighborhood. Then you can just walk to and from the different spots and not have to worry about parking or how you're going to get home.
7. Have a "Day Out"
Who says you can only go out at night? Nighttime events are generally higher priced because the venues know they're going to be packed and people are willing to spend money. Avoid the surge pricing and crowds by going out a little earlier.
You could take advantage of happy hours if you want a drink, or plenty of weekend events in most cities. It'll also give you an excuse to have a relaxing night at home since you've been out during the day.
8. Buy in Bulk
Costco isn't the only place that offers bulk deals. A lot of bars and restaurants will give you discounts if you order multiple drinks at once, a full pitcher of beer or a whole bottle of wine/liquor.
Get the whole bottle or pitcher and split the cost up among your friends. If everyone's going to be drinking the same thing it doesn't make sense to have everyone paying more for their own glasses.
This move is really only worth it if you plan on having multiple drinks. If you're only going to have one glass to drink, it could be cheaper to just buy a normal drink.
9. Look up Menus Online
If your night out includes a restaurant, get an idea of the pricing before you head out. When you wait until you get to the restaurant to order, it's easy to feel rushed or tempted to get something higher priced.
A lot of restaurants have their menus and prices online, or you can also just Google the restaurant and get an average of how much their food costs from review and other sites. Allmenus.com also has menus for a lot of popular restaurants.
Find something within your price range so when you get there you know exactly what you're getting.
10. Stay Home
Here's a popular option. Instead of stressing over how to save money on a night out, how about having a night-in? You can do it solo or invite the people you would usually go out with.
Have people bring drinks for everyone to share, and cook up some food/snacks at home. If you'd rather not cook, you could always order a pizza which is a great way to feed a lot of people on a budget. Especially if multiple people chip in.
Have Tips on How to Save Money on a Night Out?
You've heard our tips. What's your advice or secrets for how to save money on a night out?
Share your money saving tips and advice below or on Twitter with the hashtag #moneygoody!