Does a sad fly come out of your wallet every time you open it? Is your pantry stocked up with garbanzo beans and dry cereal? If so, then you probably don't think that having fun on the weekends while broke is an option. It's all Netflix and worn-in pajama pants for you, hanging out with the lights off to cut back on that electricity bill. While that's an option, it doesn't have to be the only one. There are plenty of ways that you can still step out on a night on the town with your friends (or sip on fancy cocktails or eat at places that won't give you food poisoning) without breaking the bank.
You don't have to turn into a recluse in order to scrape some savings together — all you have to do is get creative at home for a couple of weekends, and then spend your money smartly when you step outside. Rather than ordering the steak and the top-shelf gin when you head out to dinner, pause and think about the clever money-saving tricks you know that can shave a couple of bucks (or 50) when it comes down to the bill. And I'm just about to arm you with them — below are seven tips on how you can still go out when you're broke.
1. Host Themed Movie Nights
One of my favorite indie movie theaters in Chicago hosts cult classic nights, where they play flicks like Rocky Horror Picture Show or Pulp Fiction, invite you to dress up like your favorite character, and pass out bubble guns and confetti poppers to mess around with throughout the show. The catch? It's a hefty ticket price. So instead, create that same mood in your own apartment.
Invite friends over, have everyone bring fun snacks (and lots of boxed wine), and get silly on the couch. Lifestyle writer Jessica Rose Purchon from lifestyle site The Richest suggested, "Why not organise a weekly ‘bad movie night’ with your friends, where you get to giggle through spectacular cinematic flops such as the ridiculous ‘Troll 2’ or the cult classic ‘The Room.'" Confetti poppers strongly recommended.
2. Track Down Game Nights
There are a plethora of bars and coffee shops out there that host trivia nights, Cards Against Humanity events, or just have a stock pile of board games littering the premises. For the price of a single cheap beer or basic coffee, you and your friends can have a full night of playing your favorite board games from grade school or wiping the floor with strangers. Purchon pointed out, "Even the most simple games can bring a smile to a rainy day (quick the floor is lava) and it’ll make a nice break from the stresses of being a ‘grown up.'"
Bonus points if you wear your favorite '90s windbreaker. If you're going to go back to your childhood, go all in.
3. Host A Potluck
Wanted to go to a restaurant with your friends this weekend but didn't have the scratch for it? Cut those costs in half by offering to host a dinner party at your place, and invite everyone to bring their favorite dish. As lifestyle site Divine Caroline pointed out, "Humans are social animals and we all love to eat. Food is a great icebreaker."
You can make fancy cocktails, try out new recipes together, or even make it themed by saying, "only Peruvian food," or, "tonight's Morocco night." And the best part is? You can stay way longer together than you would when a restaurant would close.
4. Hunt Happy Hour Deals
Planning to paint the town red tonight? Sip cocktails for cheap or grab dinner half-off by hunting down happy hour deals. Do some research online and see what fun bars host specials for cocktails and drafts, and often times you can get plates like burgers or appetizers for discounts during those times. That way you can load up on your martini quota beforehand and spend a lot less when you go out to the main bar afterwards.
Lifestyle writer Renee Butler from Hello Giggles shared, "Find out what time happy hour starts, which drinks are discounted, if there are food specials, whether there is a time you can gain entrance at the bar or club before you have to pay a cover, etc." Little moves like that could save you hundreds by the end of the month.
5. Focus On Appetizers
Sometimes you're going to get bullied into going out to eat, even if you don't quite have the funds to do so. You can't always bow out of Friday night dinners (you'll become the recluse of the group,) but in order to keep that budget on track, try ordering a couple of appetizers instead of going all out on an entree. Lifestyle writer Josh Ozersky from Esquire advised, "Here's the thing about chefs, especially young and creative ones: They don't really care about the entrées. If they never served another steak or chop they would, generally speaking, be happy. All their creativity goes into the apps. So just order a couple of extra small plates."
You'll spend less and get to try weird experimental tastes? A complete win.
6. Delete That Uber App
Chances are there are buses or trains in your city, and while those aren't as cozy as stepping into a Prius and being swept away back home in the middle of the night, they're infinitely cheaper. Finance writer Maya Kachroo-Levine at budget site The Financial Diet recommended, "If you’re in city with a good subway system, promise yourself that you will only use the metro as transport on the weekends. Instead of using the fact that the bars close later than the metro as an excuse to take an Uber, use that as motivation to leave the bar earlier and make your train."
Now that you have anywhere between $10 to $30 in your pocket from that, you can either save it for another night out or indulge a little more at the bar!
7. Go Dancing
Does the idea of spending a crisp Benjamin on weak drinks make your heart hurt? But then you don't want to sit home watching movies or cooking with friends? There's a way around that — go to a dance-y bar. Notice how I didn't say "club with cover." Instead, go to a bar with a fun dance floor, and breeze past the bartenders and head straight to the colorful lights and fog machine.
And to get that cozy buzz on that will make it a lot easier to pull off your best Drake dance moves, just have cocktails at home beforehand. Finance writer Sam Dogen from budget site Financial Samurai did the math, and says, "It’s always best to pre-party an hour before going out. You get to buy your own grocery-bought alcohol for 80 percent less and drink all you want in the comfort of your own home."
With these little tricks, you can still have amazing weekends without completely breaking the bank. So go have fun!