If you’re on a tight budget, it doesn’t mean you can’t socialise, eat out and have fun. There are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself without spending a lot of money although it may require a little creativity, planning and being tight with your money.
Change the days/times you go out
One way to save money is to avoid going out on the weekends (we appreciate that’s easier said than done), instead, try midweek nights or during the day. You’ll often find cheaper deals and quieter venues.
Always Always Always try to take advantage of discounts
Another way to save money is to take advantage of student, NHS and social discounts, sometimes if just 1 of your party has a voucher then you can capitalise on it for the whole table (consider being cheeky and asking to split the bill if not), be sure to search for discounts on:
- The Restaurant’s apps
- The Restaurant’s Facebook
- The Restaurant’s Twitter
- Ask the staff – we’d guestimate 1/4 of the time we’ve asked they’ve managed something or have advised where we can look next time
- Tesco Clubcard style websites
- TasteCard offers 50% off or 2 for 1
- Meerkat Meals (25% off a meal, 2for1 on selected days)
- Vodafone Eat Local (2-4-1 meals, 50% off food and 25% off the total bill.)
- AA Membership: 20% off Greene King, 20% off Chef & Brewer
- NHS: Blue Light Card e.g. 20% off Turtle Bay, 25% off Bella Italia, 20% off Las Iguanas
- Students: NUS / StudentBeans discounts
Clubs / Bars
Hosting pre-drinks at home before heading out to party is the oldest trick in the book but it’s always worth adding to these lists, chill with your pals for longer while having drinks at a fraction of the cost of going out.
Clubs are well aware that on weekends, they can charge a hefty entrance fee and raise drinks prices due to strong demand. At weekends, on the other hand, when most people have to get up for work the next day, clubs might find it difficult to attract willing partiers. As a result, weekday student nights have become standard procedure for any club in a big city. Entry is cheap, drinks are low-cost, and many more drink specials exist. Take advantage of your unique opportunity to go out on a Tuesday night and save money while doing so.
The mark-up for coffee is literally insane, consider getting some decent thermal flasks and making your coffee before you go.
Failing that take advantage of discount codes / loyalty schemes, you may find this useful: 10 ways to secure free/discounted coffee when out of the house
Wine at restaurants: “Restaurants will often have wine at 3x wholesale price and will make the 2nd wine on their list (after house wine) be a wine that is traditionally high in profit” learn more here
Go for tap water
Technically you do get an inferior product compared to proper mineral/still water but in reality you probably won’t notice the difference.
Walks / Exercise / Sports Instead
OK so it’s not quite the same as sitting cocktails on the top floor of a swanky hotel but if you’re looking for free entertainment, there are plenty of options available. Check out your local park, there are often free events taking place in towns and cities too – keep an eye out for flyers, posters & council information sites.
- Go and play rounders/cricket/football
- Go for a joint bike ride and picnic
- Rent some electric scooters and tour the city
Home Movie Night / Cinema
It has never been easier or cheaper to watch TV shows and movies from the comfort of your own home; consider asking people to bring food and drink around to yours instead.
If you really want the full cinema experience be sure to take advantage of 2 for 1 cinema tickets or discounted midweek tickets & remember most cinemas allow you to bring in your own food and drink.
Avoid the highstreet scams:
- Arcade machines are overpriced / borderline scams
- Crane Games are 100% borderline scams – They’re heavily weighted for the business owner to profit – Avoid!
- 10 ways restaurants rip you off
Consider these 10 Cheapskate Ways To Save Money When Dating
Take advantage of free events.
Many cities offer free events and activities throughout the year. Check your local newspaper or website for listings of free concerts, festivals, and other events in your area.
Mid-week meal deals
A bit like clubs, restaurants often offer cheaper deals during the week, search through social media or restaurant websites to find deals
Discounted Membership Cards / Vouchers
See the list of discounts above
Grab some too-good-to-go bags instead
Travelling around with friends and seeing if you can bag a bargain on food that would otherwise be thrown away and having a laugh along the way sounds like a great evening to us personally, average saving is 70%.
Share food with friends
Ordering a main for each person can add up quickly. To save money, consider sharing meals with your friends or family (e.g. 3 mains between 4 of you)
Order Steak, Seafood etc
Restaurants obviously want to maximise profits, to accomplish this, they balance high-profit margin meals like pasta or chicken (which are less expensive to purchase and serve) against higher-cost items like seafood or beef, where the markup is lower. So consider aiming for these high ticket items (as long as they’re reasonable) because they should have a lower profit margin, so you’re technically getting better value for money (even if it’s more expensive). Keep in mind that the cost price of some high-end meats may equal or even surpass half the price of your whole dinner!
Be careful of ‘free bread’
Free bread is a nice touch but one of the deciding factors for restaurants to include it or not is that bread causes a glucose and insulin spike, this pushes your body into a blood sugar crash approximately 60-90 minutes after eating the bread, which is roughly about the time the dessert menu arrives! So you suddenly and unknowningly want to eat more or feel like you need a coffee!