This weekend was an expensive one! A birthday party, a girls' night, warm (which of course meant purchasing a new bocce ball set at Target)...one of the best weekends I had in a long time, but definitely not my cheapest weekend ever. I wish I would have followed the advice I'm about to lay out, but here are some good ways to keep your tabs low when out having fun with friends.
*First and foremost, make sure you have a game plan and a ride home. A designated driver, a bus, a taxi...but if you are drinking more than a glass of something, you should not be driving.
*Have a pre-party. Not only are you more likely to get some quality socializing time in at a home versus a crowded, loud bar, but you can also bring grocery store purchased alcohol, which is far cheaper than getting drinks at a bar.
*Get a round of water in between each round of drinks. First of all, you forget how quickly alcohol can dehydrate you. But second, what's the point of just chugging things down? You're there to enjoy your friends' company and a couple of drinks, so you don't want to finish in 45 minutes and completely destroy your budget. You'll still have a drink in your hand, you'll feel better the next day, AND you'll cut your bar tab in half.
*Don't go to a bar with a cover charge, or go before the cover starts. Covers can range from $5-$20 - and most of the time, you don't get anything for that except entrance. By arriving 10 minutes earlier, you avoid paying more money than you have to. Put it towards your cab fare.
*ASK how much drinks are or to see a menu. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten a receipt and been shocked at how much two or three drinks ended up costing. You don't want to be surprised - and having all of the information is your best defense.
*Eat something before you go out. Having a few beers or glasses of wine definitely kicks in the "I need to eat something fried" instinct. Bar food, while almost never good for you, can also be pretty expensive. $10 for a few chicken fingers? Order pizza in at your pre-party or make a delicious spread of crackers, baked cheese and roasted garlic (like my friend did this weekend), but just be sure to eat. You'll be glad you did.
I hope this blog doesn't sound like I'm a big drinker! :) I'm really not - and I usually prefer staying in with friends than going out. But I know not everyone feels that way, and I'm sure most of you would like to save some of your hard-earned money for other things than overpriced drinks. So have fun, be safe, and save your money!