How To Go Out Frequently And Still Live A Frugal Lifestyle
When I was in my twenties and just started my first job, I found myself in the position where my living situation changed dramatically. I wanted my own place to live in, and also to build some financial security. I was not familiar with the concept of frugal living during my student years in any way, and in the end everything I earned was spent on tuition fees, rent, food, and parties. But suddenly, after graduation, I was getting more and more worried about retirement, insurance coverage, and I wanted to create some financial security as well travel a bit more.
One of the challenges I experienced with my first job, was also a different environment. I moved to another city, with a slightly higher scale of income, but considerably higher expenses. Since I only knew few people, one of the challenges was how to actually go out, visit bars and clubs, get to know people and meet up with the people I knew, while still being able to live frugally and have some cash available by the end of the month.
In the beginning, I tried to limit the frequency by going out only once a week. But actually this didn’t do me any good; it meant there were a lot of people I couldn’t meet up with on a regular basis, unless I could get them all together on the same day. Also, I would still spend a lot of money on that one night, because I had literally ‘saved’ all that money up during the week. As a result, I usually spent most of the Sunday sleeping, and getting to work on Monday exhausted; I didn’t have the impression that my weekend was really relaxing.
As a result, I tried so experiment a bit around, trying to find different ways how I could meet up with people frequently, and still be able to live a frugal life. It cost me a while to get into the routine, but today I truly limit the amount of money I am spending on going out.
Using public transport
There are two big reasons why I go out using public transportation only. The first one is, that it is virtually the cheapest method to get around, apart from cycling or walking. When I go by car, I have the costs of petrol, which in itself is not that much. But then I still have to find a parking space or parking lot, for which I will probably have to pay.
Additionally, I don’t drink and drive (and I would discourage anyone from doing so), meaning that whenever I had a few drinks, I will have to leave my car where it is. This might result in even further parking fees, apart from the fact that I would prefer to have my car at the same place as where I am at.
Also, taxis are not a favorable alternative, as they are very expensive. I would take a taxi only, if there is no public transportation available (e.g. during the night), or when I am not able to reach my home by myself. The latter, however, never happens.
Going out does not necessarily mean you will have to party until 8 o’clock in the morning. Especially during the week, and when I have to go to work the next day, I meet up with one or more people, just for two or three hours, for a few drinks. Such a meetup could take place anywhere, in a club, a bar, a cafe. It doesn’t matter really, what matters is that you have a chance to be home before midnight and get a good rest. Because of this mental time limit, you will not be prone to order ten drinks during the evening.
If you are meeting up with someone only shortly, focus on two or three drinks only. Have a good time with your friend(s), perhaps with some other people at that location as well. But keeping a grip on how long you stay will impact the amount of money you are likely to spend during the evening.
How and when people eat much depends on culture. In Germany, many people have a big, large meal at noon, whereas they eat something small during the evening. In other countries, the main meal takes place during the evening.
Regardless of culture, I have made it a habit to limit eating out, usually not more than once a week, max. Food is usually more expensive than drinks, and usually you will drink something with your food too. This all adds up to the bill. Often, after having been at a restaurant, I have found that we went to a club or bar afterwards, and still had a number of drinks.
For that reason, I try to eat before going out, and to meet up with friends after I have eaten. I usually eat at home, meaning it is cheap on my budget. Also, I feel much better when going for drinks after I have eaten than on an empty stomach.
The type of drink you have can make a huge difference to your budget. Are you drinking only beer and soft drinks (cheapest)? Are you more into wine (mid-range)? Or do you favor hard liquor, cocktails, single malt whiskey’s and fine Cognacs (most expensive)? Choosing what you drink has a huge impact on how much you spend during night. Drink 3 cocktails paying 15 Euros for each one makes 45 Euros. As opposed to perhaps 5 Dollars for a wine, making 15 Euros in total. This is a difference of 30 Euros, on one single night.
Additionally to what you drink, you can also influence the speed at which you drink. I have seen people literally drinking a cocktail within 5 minutes. I have seen two people ordering 10 wines, because the price was reduced; they left half of it standing when they left the bar.
Whatever you do, give it a quick thought. According to my experience, many people (including myself at some time) are extremely impulsive, and they simply do not do themselves, nor their wallet, a big favor. It is well possible to go out frequently, but it is imperative to keep your expenses as low as possible on that one night. This can be achieved by doing only one thing at night, so not going and to the cinema, and going for dinner, and going for drinks on the same evening. Also, give it a thought what you want to drink or eat, and when you do enjoy it; take it slow and enjoy the evening.
Finally, when the night is over, it is over. I don’t know how often I see people standing around in cafes, bars, and nightclubs, who obviously are not having the fun they are supposed to have. Still, they hang around for hours, have one drink after the other, although they would have much better been off calling it a night.