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Socialising on a budget

Posted on 25 June 2021

Financial  |  Social

After months stuck at home, you might be tempted to hit the town at every opportunity – with the resulting damage to your bank balance.

But these top tips make it easy to have fun without spending a fortune. 

Build a budget

First, work out how much you can afford to spend. If you’ve managed to save some cash during lockdown, you might well want to blow more than normal on socialising. But make sure your usual monthly expenses are covered first – check out our article Budgeting for Beginners for more info.

You do you

Have a think about what’s important to you. Some people will be desperate to go clubbing / knock back cocktails / return to a restaurant, while others just want to spend time with friends they haven’t seen in ages.

If it’s the latter, remember that eating in is almost always cheaper than eating out. Consider inviting people round for drinks, a meal or a barbecue. Cooking yourself, asking friends to bring drinks and dishes, or taking it in turns to host, will help keep costs down.

Pay your way

If you do decide to hit the town, don’t let the joy of eating out be overshadowed by the thought of what your share of the bill will be. A study by The Economic Journal showed that diners spent 36% more when they knew the bill would be split equally, instead of just paying for what they ordered.

Bill-splitting apps like Tricount or Tab are a great way to remove the tension of divvying up. On Tab (iOS only) you take a picture of the receipt, the app reads the items, and everyone joins from their phones to claim what they had, with the tip divided proportionally.

Check for discounts

You may be able to access retail and leisure discounts as part of your employee benefits. These allow you to save money on restaurant meals, cinema tickets, travel, and family days out. Many are available as e-vouchers on your mobile phone, making it quick and easy to save while you shop. Don’t forget to check if you could save! 

Keep an eye on your cash

If you don’t want to overspend on a big night out, withdraw the money in cash beforehand. It’s easy to run up a big bill using contactless payments, but there’s nothing like handing over coins and notes to register quite how much you’re spending.

Be honest

Be upfront with your friends if you’re on a budget – you may find they’re keen to save too.

In the pub, say if you’d like to stick to buying your own drinks, rather than getting caught up in multiple rounds. Or if people are making grand plans that you know you won’t be able to afford, don’t be afraid to have a quiet word with the organiser, and/or suggest a cheaper alternative.

Many of us can’t wait to socialise again, but spending quality time doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag.  

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