One thing I consistently struggle with is being social while paying off debt. I’m single and in my 20’s so most social events are at restaurants or bars multiple times a week. On average I spend about $30 each time I go out. That includes roughly 2-3 drinks and an appetizer eaten at the bar or shared with friends. If I continued to spend $30 four times a week out that would be $120 a week, $480 a month, and $5,670 a year!!! Just thinking about it makes me want to crawl in a hole and die. All of that potential debt payment going into my belly!! I’ve worked on this for a while, and though it’s a struggle, I’ve listed my top some strategies to save money and not be a total hermit below.
Eat Before You Go
This one is fairly simple but it works every time. I always take dinner with me to work when I know I have a happy hour coming in the evenings. Even if its something small like crackers and soup, it prevents me from needing to share an appetizer or get hangry and say screw it bring on the spinach dip. I also keep an “emergency meal” in my desk drawer or the freezer at work. It’s usually a can of soup/ravioli or a frozen meal just in case I forget lunch one day or a last minute after work event pops up.
Pick The Happiest Hour
A friend of mine is moving away and we’re having a goodbye happy hour for her this week. I tossed out one of the lesser known bars in town because they have $5 cocktails every day from 5-7pm and $1 bar snacks and she was all over it. Who doesn’t like $5 craft cocktails?? Don’t be afraid to throw out a suggestion that notoriously has a cheap happy hour special because you’re not the only one scouring for a deal.
Invite Everyone To Your Place
This is not my favorite option because it can be a risky one. I’m a 90 year old woman at heart and I really like to be in bed by 9pm. When you invite people over for drinks after work be mentally prepared for them to stay until some ungodly hour. You should also be prepared to provide food and some drinks to not go down as the worst host ever. Recently my friends and I have been doing a potluck type deal for larger groups and it has worked like a charm. Everyone has participated and you only wind up having to buy a bottle of wine and a dish which usually won’t run more than $10 (cheap wine + break and bake cookies). For smaller groups we’ve been doing cheap pizza night where the host bakes a frozen pizza and everyone else brings wine. The girls love it and we get to wear sweats, drink wine, and watch lifetime.
This is my absolute LEAST favorite option because my favorite hobbies include heavy pours of Malbec or Moscow Mules with homemade ginger beer. Too bad both of those hobbies are the most expensive on the menu! Sometimes it’s worth it just to not drink. Even when I tap out at two drinks during happy hour I’m always operating at 80% instead of 100% the next day at work. I think that’s a product of my early twenties being gone with the wind. Sometimes you just have to sip a club soda with lime and relish in the fact that you can wake up hangover free without a dent in your wallet.
What strategies do you use to be social without hulking out of your budget categories?