How to Go Out on a Budget

It’s Friday night and your friend just texted you, inviting you to hang out. You get excited at the prospect of finally going relaxing after such a stressful week. Then you check your bank account and come to the sad conclusion that you instead have to live your night vicariously through your friend’s Snapchat story. Been there, done that. It’s not fun seeing all your friends having a blast while you're sitting in your dorm room binge-watching shows on Netflix. Keep reading for some of my tips on how I go out, and still stay within budget.

1. Decide how much you’re willing to spend

At the beginning of every month, sit down and decide how much is ‘Going Out’ money. It’s not fun to put a limit on your social life, but sometimes you have to in order to actually go out. By giving yourself a limit, you become more conscious about how you’re spending your money.

2. Pre-game

This goes for more than just drinking. Make use of that meal plan and eat ahead of time at school, or if you live off-campus, cook yourself a quick meal. Eating out is expensive, especially if your friends like to eat out all the time. Pre-gaming ensures that you are only using what you already have so that you don’t go out and spend more than necessary.

3. Ditch the plastic

ALWAYS TAKE CASH. I can’t stress this enough. Cash gives you a limit on what you can spend. A card (debit or credit) gives you a pretty big spending range. So say it with me: ALWAYS TAKE CASH. Make this your new motto. Live by it.

4. Use ride-share or line to split the costs on Lyft/Uber

Not everyone has a car and we all know that Lyft and Uber get pricy sometimes. So when you can, use ride-share to cut the price, especially if you live in, or near, a big city. Don’t spend more than you need to!

5. Use Groupon

Groupon is a life-saver man. I once went to a trampoline park that usually costs $20 per person, but ended up only paying $10 for both me and my friend. So if you want to experience cool events for a cheap price, check out Groupon.

6. Take advantage of free admission local events

One of my mottos in college has been “If it’s free, I’m there,” and I suggest you follow it too. There is nothing to lose when going to a free admission event. I was once walking around with some friends at night, when we saw a party going on in a government building. Admission was free so we just walked in. It turns out the party was celebrating the Filipino culture, and they had a free photo booth, artwork decorating the room, and a dance floor! Our otherwise uneventful night turned into a spontaneous adventure! So embrace the motto of “If it’s free, I’m there” because a) you aren’t spending money and b) you typically learn something about the locals.

7. Order a glass of water

For most restaurants, ordering a glass of water is no charge. So put aside your thirst for soda or lemonade, and buckle up for some nice tasteless water.

Using all of these tips has actually helped me go out more, while still staying within the budget I set when I started college. I hope they help you too, now go and have some fun!