There is a common misconception when it comes to staying in budget and it is; if you adhere to a budget, you won’t be able to go out and have a good time with your friends and/or family. The reason for this way of thinking is that traditional philosophies regarding budgets tend to nix all free radicals which means that things like having a few
drinks with friends or having a night out on the town are out of the question. This is unacceptable. As I have previously stated, we work to live and if we can’t live our lives in a way that makes us happy, then what’s the point? The question then becomes; how do I fit fun into a tight budget? The answer is easier than you may realize. With a few intelligent choices and preparation you can still enjoy all of the activities that bring you joy. In my personal experience, I find that the following tips help to keep you in budget when going out.
- Follow Local Blogs. There are always a bunch of great local blogs telling you
where to find great drink specials or a cheap meal. They are pretty easy to find, all you have to do is go to your browser and search for “drink specials, your zip code” and some should pop up right away. Another great tip for finding these sites is to pick up your local paper (independent local entertainment papers works best) and turn to the entertainment section and there should be some great blogs hosted by like-minded people trying to stretch their hard earned dollar.
- Pre-Game. This collegiate favorite is a great way to save money when going out to the clubs. If your goal is to achieve a nice buzz and hit the clubs, achieve the
buzz BEFORE getting to the club. Purchase your favorite brew or spirit and hoist a few at home before your designated driver takes you out.
- Set up a budget BEFORE going out. When you drink, you don’t always make the best choices so set up the night’s budget at home whilst dead sober. If you only have $40 in your wallet, then you can only spend $40. Easy tip to really help
control your spending. Use you AchieveCard text alerts to track your spending.
Use any means at your disposal to keep yourself on track.
- Determine the food situation BEFORE going out. If dinner isn’t part of the plan, chances are that after a few drinks the munchies will set in and you will wish that dinner was part of the plan. Before going out, make sure your designated driver knows of the best cheap spot close to the action and when you get to the cheap food spot make sure that the sober person orders the food.
- Become a local regular. Visit your local establishments and make sure that the bartender/doorman knows your face (for the right reasons) and you are more
likely to have a free/stronger drink passed your way. If you get a freebie, tip like it wasn’t free. If you aren’t grateful for the freebie then chances are the bartender won’t repeat the favor.
- Sign up for mailing lists. If you find a spot that you like, sign up for the email
mailing list. You will be more likely to hear about drink and food specials that aren’t normally advertised.
- Keep an eye out for new establishments. New places LOVE to have specials in order to attract business.
- Skip Dessert. If you go out to dinner, skip the overpriced dessert and hit up a
local ice cream parlor or sweet shop. Food made with love is normally cheaper
and tastier than food made with the bottom line in mind.
- Buy a pitcher. This is one of my favorites. At the beginning of the night buy a
pitcher of beer for you and your companions and pour them all a beer. The rest
of your night will most likely be taken care of.
- Don’t be fooled by top shelf specials. Top shelf specials are not always a good deal. A 10% discount on a $15 drink will still leave you with a $13.50 drink.
Do the mental math before you order the special. If you’ve reached a point in the night when mental math is out of the question, will you really be able to taste the difference between a top shelf drink and a house well? Something to think about.
- Avoid cover charges. To be honest, I have rarely paid a cover that I didn’t regret. There are a bunch of great establishments in any city that offer no cover food and fun. If you do decide to pay a cover, make sure that it will be worth it. Live music and live entertainment are usually a must if I am going to pay to get in.
These tips and tricks have always helped me to have a good time on a budget and hopefully they help you too. Post comments with your personal favorites that I may have overlooked. Remember, we work to live not the other way around. Use your dollar wisely by planning and researching before going out to ensure that good times are had by all and that your wallet remains fat and happy.