A night out on the town is loads of fun, but it can also take a big chunk out of your wallet. Still, if you don’t want to sit at home with nothing to do, take a minute to evaluate your night out procedures and find the best way to hit the town without breaking the bank.
Here are 14 ways to help you save on a night out in town:
When going out — especially if planning on having a few drinks — carpooling is the way to go. The designated driver ensures safety, and you can all split the gas.
Be the Designated Driver
Even better than hitting up a carpool is acting as the designated driver. This position is a prime excuse for keeping money in your wallet and asking for water.
Take Public Transportation
If everyone is meeting after work and there’s little time to go home, try taking public transportation that day. Skipping out on driving your own car can save you thousands per year, putting more money in your wallet for things like going out, getting drinks and — well — paying rent.
Eat at Home First
You’re liable to spend more money going to the grocery store on an empty stomach. If that’s the case for a grocery store where the food isn’t yet prepared, imagine the bill you can rack up when faced with the delicious smells of a buzzing restaurant. Don’t succumb to temptation. Eat a decent meal at home before you go out.
If you go out early enough, you may be able to hit some early bird specials. Movies are often still offering matinees when the kids are getting out of school — if you can swing getting out of work that early.
One of the easiest ways to save money when out with friends is by ordering water. Soft drinks and the ever-so-tempting margaritas you love have been heavily marked up, meaning that 4 oz. drink could have bought you a couple containers of eggs for the next few weeks. One drink vs. several meals? The choice should be obvious.
Look up Specials
A lot of companies — restaurants included — offer specials to their most loyal customers. If the place you go to offers a loyalty program, subscribe to it. Before going out, look up the specials and see if you can score any good deals for the evening.
Peek at the Menu Beforehand
There’s nothing like sticker shock when you’re sitting in a restaurant and get handed a menu twice as expensive as what you figured it would be. Don’t let this be you. A quick search for the menu at home, thanks to our connected world, can help you make informed decisions on where to go and which menu items will fit within your budget.
Split a Meal With a Friend
You may not be the only one looking to save a few pennies when going out. Ask if anyone in your group would be interested in splitting a meal. Pizza is a no-brainer choice for this one. A large pizza for $20 split between 5 of you will result in a whopping $4 meal. Order water, and you just scored yourself a deal.
Go for an Appetizer or Dessert
If you listened to tip No. 4 and had a meal at home first, get an appetizer or dessert to satiate any additional food cravings. Still plenty of food to fill in the cracks without breaking the bank, an appetizer is a delicious option. If you’re experiencing a craving for something sweet, grab dessert that you’ve been eyeing up — and nothing more.
There’s no need to go for the heavyweight title when it comes to a night out. Drink your beverages slowly, enjoying every drop. Opt for drinks that are available on tap, as they’ll be less expensive and typically come in a large glass. Sorry, but shots probably aren’t your best budget option.
Decide how much you want to spend before you head out the door. Take that amount in cash and only that amount. Leave the plastic at home. Plastic cards leave us less savvy to how much we’ve actually spent. Stick to your budget by sticking to cash.
Prep Food for Afterward
When you’ve been partying hard, it’s tempting to end the evening with more food. Make sure your refrigerator is well-stocked with some tasty, healthy and budget-friendly snacks for when you make your return journey home.
Hit Happy Hour
Happy hours begin with “happy” for a reason. Not only will you be happy to start your evening out a little earlier, but your wallet will be happier that you chose to hit the town when drink and food prices are lower. Ask friends to meet you for happy hour and call it a “happy” night a little earlier.
A night out on the town doesn’t have to mean scraping for pennies the morning after. Use these savvy tips to save on your nightlife.