It doesn’t matter what salary you have, or how much you’ve managed to set aside in savings this month; giving yourself the occasional treat (and not feeling guilty about it) is essential for your mental health. For some people, that might mean a new pair of shoes or a video game – but for others, there’s no better way to blow off steam than by hitting the local nightlife scene with some good company.
But a night out can be an expensive business – one single cocktail can cost an average of £11 in some of the bigger cities, while transport is equally pricey in urban areas. Don’t despair – it’s still possible to enjoy an amazing night out on the cheap! Follow the below tips and you’ll find your pounds stretching further next time you and your friends head out for some nightlife shenanigans.
Pre-Drink: Seeing as a bottle of your favourite spirit probably costs around the same as just two drinks at a high-end bar, it’s worth cutting back on a couple of pricey cocktails by having the first two drinks in your own home. Turn your kitchen into a mixology lab and have some fun making your own alcoholic concoctions. You can stick to basics, with two-ingredient cocktails like Cuba Libre or Cosmopolitan, or you can get creative with more interesting yet inexpensive cocktail recipes.
Happy Hour: This one’s a no-brainer. It’s worth heading out a little earlier in the evening to cash in on the 2-for-1 cocktail offer you’ll find at numerous bars. You might find it difficult to remember which bars offer happy hour – let alone which time and on which days they do so. In such a case – why not download a Happy Hour tracking app for your particular city? That way your phone will always be able to lead you to the nearest happy hour!
Double Up: Usually when buying a drink, you get the choice of a single or double shot of alcohol. Keep in mind that drinking one single shot beverage over the space of 30 minutes is cheaper than two single shot drinks over the same period of time. Drink a little slower, and you’ll be consuming the same as your friends but without having to pay that bit extra.
Alternate: Drink a glass of water or a soft drink between each alcoholic beverage. Not only will this save you money – it will do your liver a world of good and possibly prevent a nasty hangover.
Avoid rounds: Let’s face it – the concept of doing ‘rounds’ makes sense, but the reality is that ordering drinks in this manner rarely works out fair for everyone involved. You might end up ordering drinks when you don’t even feel like having one – or have people order more expensive drinks when it’s your turn to pay.
Early Start: Many clubs offer free or discounted entrance before a certain hour, meaning you could potentially save up to £20 just by arriving a little earlier.
Tokens: Anyone who’s ever frequented a busy nightlife street will be familiar with the club promoters that patrol the pavements, handing out flyers and tokens. Collect these! They often entitle you to money-saving special offers like cheaper drinks or complimentary shots. If you don’t use all the tokens in one night, store them in your wallet and purse for next time you hit the nightlife scene.
Special offers: Keep an eye out for special events at your favourite bars or clubs. Themes like ‘Ladies Night,’ ‘Students’ Night’ or ‘Halloween’ often involve some promotional offer that entitles certain people to free or discounted drinks. Most bars or clubs will have an events page on their website or social media where you can check this out.
Guest Lists: Similarly, some clubs allow you to put yourself on their guest list through Facebook or other social media. Not only could this save you money – you might get to skip the queue. The extra bonus is of course that you’ll walk into the club feeling like an A-List celebrity!
Set Menus: In most cases, opting for a ‘set menu’ at a restaurant is cheaper than choosing each dish individually.
Starter as Main: Choosing a starter as your main course is a good idea for several reasons. It will save you money – and if the restaurant in question offers free appetizers such as bread, then you’re unlikely to leave hungry. Since starter dishes are smaller, it also helps with portion control. Not convinced? If you’re worried you’re not going to finish your dining experience properly satiated, then plan ahead by eating a slightly larger lunch.
Share Dessert: This is easier said than done. When presented with a delicious slice of chocolate cake or scrumptious Eton Mess, the instinct is not always to share. Choosing a larger dessert and splitting it between two people is, however, a great way of saving money while still satisfying your sweet tooth.
Freebies: Take advantage of a casino’s free drinks and even food (yes, that’s how confident the casino is that it’ll be keeping most of your money). A good casino should at the very least offer you free water, coffee and snacks. A better casino will greet you with a welcome drink.
Pick the right game: Opt for those games where the house has a smaller advantage. This will require knowledge of house odds and gambling tactics beforehand. Contrary to popular belief, luck isn’t the only thing you need on your side at the casino – some basic odds knowledge helps too. Gambling wisely is key to walking away with minimum losses – and hopefully some winnings!
Skip it altogether: Let’s be real – is the casino really the right place for you if you’re reading a budgeting guide? Unless you truly can afford to lose a set amount of money, then the best advice is to overcome your thirst for a gambler’s thrill. If it’s purely the strategic and tactical side of a game like poker that interests you, then host your own low-stake poker night at home, or enter freeroll poker rooms online to minimize potential losses.
CINEMA & THEATRE
Special offers: Some cinemas and venues lower the price of their tickets on certain days of the week. Plan your outing accordingly.
Online vouchers and discounts: Booking tickets online is sometimes cheaper than buying at a venue. Furthermore, you can search for applicable discount codes on the internet.
Seasonal ticket: Are you a cinema-frequenting movie buff? Are you a sucker for ballet? Purchasing a seasonal pass might save you money in the long-term if it entitles you to free admission over an extended period of time. Do some basic calculations to determine whether this is cost-efficient for you. The same could apply to Bowling Halls or Entertainment Complexes.
Share a ride: Whether it be by taxi, Uber or a designated driver – carpooling is the way to go. Nowadays, there are plenty of trusted ride-sharing apps that can help you arrange a cost-saving carpool from a verified driver at any time of the day (or night!). Walking also makes for a greener, healthier option – but is not advisable if you are intoxicated or live in a city.
Set a budget: Some of the guilt that can arise after a night out comes from accidentally having spent more than intended. It’s easy to get carried away and lose track of spending, so set a budget for the night and stick to it! You can do this either with prepaid cards, or by leaving your debit or credit card at home and relying on cash instead. In using only cash, make sure you always have a spare ‘transport’ fund in a different pocket or section of your wallet, so you can rest assured you’ll always have money for getting back home with.
No matter what way you look at it, partying with friends typically involves spending a degree of money. However, all it takes is a little preparation and some organisation skills to significantly lessen the overall cost. Follow the above tips, and you’re sure to find you’ll have some cash left over which you can spend on your next night out instead!