Going out with friends to a restaurant, club, bar, or show is sure to be a fun time, but it sure doesn’t come for free! That $13 burger, $20 club cover, or $40 show ticket – not to mention the cost of getting to and from your apartment – adds up over time. If your high rent and tight budget give you a subtle undercurrent of stress every time you hit the town with your friends, follow these tips to keep both the good times rolling and your bank account in the black.
Have you set a budget?
Your first step to stay within your spending limits while going out is to set a budget. Some financial experts suggest a strict cap on your leisure spending: 10 percent of your monthly income after taxes and deductions. According to this logic, if your monthly income is $2,200 after taxes and deductions, then you should only spend $220 per month on going out with friends.
Are your friends spending more than you can afford?
After setting your budget, if you find that your friends are spending more than you can afford, talk to them about it. You could suggest alternative, cheaper destinations for your night out, or you could be upfront about your budget. In either case, you might find that your friends are more respectful of, and empathetic toward, your situation than you had expected.
In many cases, presenting your financial situations to your friends will convince them to try more affordable nights out. It’s nevertheless unlikely that every night out will satisfy your budget, so you should learn to say no occasionally. FOMO is real, but skipping a pricey hang every now and again won’t ruin your friendships.
Can you go out without spending as much as your friends?
If you don’t want to stay home when your friends are out, but you’re worried you’ll spend more money than your budget entails, try the following to keep your night out slim on your wallet.
- Don’t drink. For some people, the idea of going out is inextricably linked to drinking, but you can absolutely have fun with your friends while you’re sober (you’ve probably done so many times). You can also invite friends over for some wine or beer before going out so the whole group spends less on pricey drinks.
- Make smart restaurant choices. When you’re at a restaurant with friends, avoiding sides and other unnecessary additions to your meal can help you save. You should also go for low-cost meals – that $10 sandwich special might not sound as unforgettable as the $25 salmon entree, but it’s not nearly as expensive.
- Take public transportation. Buses, subways, and trains can be cheaper than rideshares, even if they’re not as convenient. If you have your own car, you should still consider public transportation, as parking and gas can quickly chip away at your budget.
- Use the right credit cards. Instead of using credit cards that require annual fees, use fee-free credit cards with cash-back rewards, especially those with specials for dining out or purchasing show tickets. Every purchase you make on a cash-back credit card earns you a small amount of money, which you can eventually deposit right into your bank account. Just be sure to set a reminder to pay off your credit card bill before the due date, and only put a purchase on your credit card that you know you can afford to pay immediately.
How do you keep costs low when you go out?
Let us know in the comments!