27 September 2023

How to save money while staying social

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Bianca Davino* presents five ways people can save money without throwing away their social life.

Maintaining a healthy (and fun) social life while trying to save money can be difficult.

Between drinks with colleagues, Sunday brunch catch-ups and birthday parties, it can feel like a constant cycle of spending above your means.

However, no matter how big your saving goal is, giving up your social life entirely isn’t a viable option for your own mental and emotional wellbeing.

Seeking balance and finding ways to enjoy yourself that don’t involve regularly draining the bank account is a healthier option in the long run.

On top of increasing your savings, you might discover your favourite new hobby or activity by getting thrifty and creative with your socialising.

Here are a few ways to slim the costs of your social outings.

Entertain at home

Considering we all made an effort to up our home cooking skills during 2020, there’s never been a better time to become the type of domestic host Nigella Lawson would envy.

Entertaining at home isn’t just exclusive to the classic dinner-party affair (even though they are fantastic).

Cocktail nights have popped off over TikTok recently, game nights are the most wholesome fun you’ll ever have and getting friends involved with any sort of competitive cooking is the most superior means of bonding.

Getting everyone on board to contribute drinks or a plate is a great way to reduce costs and make things feel extra homely.

You’ll be able to focus on spending quality time with your loved ones without the stress of having to worry about waiting in line, buying expensive cocktails and securing a booking, which is also a huge plus.

Fall in love with nature

You don’t have to be an avid abseiler or rock-climber to fall in love with the many outdoor activities on offer across Australia.

We’re lucky to have some of the most incredible hiking trails, walking paths, beaches and national parks in the world, and if you’re looking to save money while socialising, there’s no better time to make the most of them all.

Nature-based activities are generally free (with national park admission fees and parking costs generally the exceptions), and you can easily divide costs with bigger groups for road trips too.

Create a socialising budget

Creating a set budget for socialising will help you get the most of your outings.

For example, if you have milestone events like birthdays or anniversaries coming up, gauge how much you’ll need to save up beforehand.

We all deserve a splurge every once in a while, and if you’ve budgeted in for it, you won’t feel as guilty.

Creating a budget can be a little confusing, and according to Westpac research, only three in 10 young people are regularly budgeting across all aspects of their lives.

If you have trouble putting together a budget, you can use tools like Westpac’s Budget Planner which will help paint a clear picture of how to divide your money.

Make smarter decisions while out

We’re not about eliminating going out altogether.

After all, it is unavoidable and isolating yourself from life’s simple pleasures like going out for dinner is just dreary.

If you’re going out to dinner with friends, ordering share plates is a great way to avoid food FOMO and save on costs.

It’s also worth checking out set menus too, as they can often offer more value than ordering various menu options.

Ensuring everyone in the group has each other’s bank details before paying is also imperative to ensure you’re not left short-changed at the end of the night.

Making the most of happy hours is the easiest way to save on your Friday and Saturday nights out, while opting for house wines and beers can help slim down your bill as well.

Taking advantage of free activities is also a great way to save on outings too.

Scour the websites and socials of art galleries, museums and theatres – it’s likely one of them will offer up a free event that’ll not only save you some coin but leave you feeling cultured after too.

Keep outings within walking a distance from home

Uber trips and rideshare costs are the silent bank account killer.

While their convenience may be appealing, resisting the temptation to fork out $14 for a ride home will add up positively in the long run.

Keep outings as close to home as possible to ensure you’re able to get around on foot without the assistance of a rideshare service.

If you’re hopping from location to location on a night out, try and keep them within walking distance of one another too.

It’s important to note that safety on nights out is most the important factor.

If walking home alone or walking between venues isn’t a safe option, paying extra for peace of mind with an Uber or cab ride is worth it.

*Bianca Davino is a writer who specialises in online culture and consumer tech.

This article first appeared at lifehacker.com.au.

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