This article may contain affiliate links, full disclosure here
When going out with friends it is easy to get caught up in the moment. Whether it be a celebration or a small gathering the excitement can quickly lead us to temporarily forget about our budget.
The feeling that it is “ok” to spend a bit of extra cash can quickly turn into a spending frenzy if we don’t know how to keep ourselves in “check”.
Don’t get me wrong I LOVE going out with friends, I love going out to eat and I love getting a cocktail here and there. Honestly, if I had unlimited finances I would probably spend every night of the week trying a new restaurant while sipping on a nice glass of wine.
I love tasting the various flavors of ethnic foods, the ambiance of cocktail lounges, and the craziness of bustling breweries.
However, going out is expensive. And, we are striving for a life of FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early), so saving money is kind of our thing.
By slowly implementing some of the steps below we have been able to save a significant amount of money while still enjoying our times of going out with friends. You may find this report pretty interesting, I did! It explains how too many millennials these days are eating up their savings by going out with friends and spending too much money.
Take note that this is becoming a trend and let’s find some good ways to allow you to enjoy time out with your friends without breaking the bank.
Follow These 14 Tips To Save Money On Your Next Outing With Friends.
Oh, and NO! These steps won’t make you feel like the cheapskate of the group!
Be sure to get yourself some sort of spending tracker. It’s harder than you think to accurately track your money. It’s so easy now and most are free. Our personal favorite and the one we use and swear by is Personal Capital. They have a great free finance tracker app that works great on mobile or desktop.
1. Shop The Deals Before Going Out With Friends
Prior to making a reservation do a bit of research and check out online deal sites. The 3 biggest sites that can save you money are Groupon, Restaurant.com, and Cardpool.com
We love checking out these websites to see if one of our favorite places has a deal or discount.
2. When Dining Out
Choose to eat from the happy hour menu, appetizer list, or split a meal with a friend.
Not only will ordering from the less expensive menu save you money (25-50%). It will allow you to stretch your “going out/ entertainment budget”. Stretching your entertainment budget means you can fit more monthly outings into your allotted budget.
Think about it, if you spend $10 on going out rather than $20 you just doubled the number of times you can go out. Haven’t developed a budget yet? I recommend signing up with Personal Capital, they have so many helpful tools to keep you on track.
3. Pay With A Cash-Back Or Rewards Credit Cards
Depending on your credit card you can receive anywhere between 1% to 5% cash back on your restaurant purchases. In addition, many of the travel rewards credit cards earn you 2 points for every dollar you spend at restaurants.
4. Happy Hour At Home With Friends
If your plan is to meet some friends out for a drink. Why not have a cocktail or glass of wine at home before you go? You can keep it social by inviting a friend over prior to meeting everyone else out.
The theory here is that you won’t need to buy as many drinks while you’re out, which can often be 4-5 times the price. You will also have a great opportunity to catch up with a friend.
5. Heading Out For An Event, Concert or Festival?
What if you and your friends have an expensive event you would like to attend? Instead of paying full price ask to volunteer for the event as a group. Big festivals require a lot of volunteers!
Reach out to the coordinators and pitch the idea that you would like to help by volunteering as a group. You will most likely score a free ticket and a couple of other goodies by doing this.
The best part is, that you can “sell” this to your friends as a great opportunity to work behind the scenes. Sure, you are working a bit but you have your besties by your side and your “volunteer” shift doesn’t have to be the whole day.
6. Fancy Cocktail Lounge
If your friend invites you to an overpriced martini bar because they think that’s what you are into. Keep in mind their motive is to simply hang out and grab a drink to catch up. Remember, your friend REALLY just wants to see you. They don’t necessarily care about the fancy cocktail lounge.
If you are feeling pressured by the martini bar prices, offer a less expensive alternative. Say “Hey, I am not feeling up for a cocktail, how about we go grab a drink down the road. I hear “so and so” has some great drink specials right now.”
Your friend will no doubt accept your invitation and be happy to save a little cash also.
There are also great apps for finding happy hours. Search in your app store for “happy hour.”
7. Meet For Brunch Or Lunch When Going Out With Friends
Meeting with friends doesn’t have to always be an evening thing. Why not shake things up and invite a friend out for brunch or lunch?
Dinner entrees are much more expensive than a bagel and coffee. I find that starting my day off with meeting a friend for brunch is a sure way to have a fun-filled day.
8. Stick With Good Ole Water
The markup prices on soda and alcoholic beverages can be ridiculous. Some restaurants and bars markup their liquors to profit by 70-80%. This means restaurants buy a bottle of liquor for $20 but the cost per shot to customers for that same bottle is $66 to $100.
Not only that, when you purchase a $2.50 soda it only costs the restaurant a measly 5-20 cents. This is crazy!
9. Skip The Restaurant And Have A “Take out” Night Instead of Going Out
It’s all about getting together and seeing your family and friends. Why not order take out? This can be a fun and inexpensive way to spend an evening in. This is also a great idea when you are looking for what to do with friends at home instead of going out.
Rotate houses and have the host provide the drinks. This is great because it rotates each time so no one gets burned out with hosting.
10. Why Pay Full Price For Dining Out?
You can save on various gift cards when you purchase them through sites like cardpool.com and cashcard.com. We love to keep our eyes open for discounted restaurant cards. You can save up to 35% off by buying gift cards online.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”On a budget? Don’t skimp on the fun when going out with friends” quote=”On a budget? Don’t skimp on the fun when going out with friends”]
11. Take Advantage Of Restaurant Daily Specials
Be in the know! Take advantage of daily restaurant specials. There is a restaurant down the road from us that offers $3 hamburgers and half-price drinks for ladies every Thursday.
Another restaurant offers buy one get one free on Wednesdays. Being aware of these offers makes for a fun and cheap night out.
12. Explore BYOB Or BYOF Establishments
Did you know that there are some places that allow you to bring in your own food or drink? It’s true! Although they may charge a corkage fee for drinking your budget bottle of wine it’s a fraction the cost of what purchasing a bottle at the restaurant would be.
We have also been to breweries that allow you to bring your own food because they don’t have kitchens to serve food. These are great casual places to meet up with friends when you are trying to save a bit of cash.
13. Buy Drinks By The Pitcher
Sure buying a $40 pitcher of margaritas can seem like a splurge when comparing it to an $8 glass. However, if everyone at the table is drinking, the cost per glass compared to the cost per pitcher will save you in the long run.
Also, remember that buying shots for everyone can seem fun at the moment but your hard-earned money will be gone in a gulp. Purchasing a pitcher for your group will make you look just as cool and it will go much further than the one shot.
14. You Have Spendy Friends
Some of you have “spendy” friends and you can’t break the cycle of overspending while out socially. We understand how difficult this can be. If you need additional help saving money we have developed a budget saving tool just for you. Download our free budgeting tool.
Like I said before we love spending a night out on the town but we do try to view these events as a special treat. Once we started to see the amount of money we were saving by going out less we knew we were on the right track to achieving our goals (FIRE) it up!!
- How do you save money when going out with friends?
- Do you have any good ideas of different things to do with friends at night?
- How about any good ideas of what to do with friends at home?
Feel free to drop us your idea in the comment box below.