The worries about the economy may have you worried about how much you may be spending on entertainment and this is a valid concern. Of the various things that we have to take care of in our monthly budgets, we should be more focused on the essentials and paying down any of the debts that we may have. But this doesn’t have to mean a lot of nights in on the couch with a can of soup. We have to find ways to go out and have some fun while keeping our pocketbooks slim. Here are some great ways to do this:
Make it a Later Night
Instead of dinner out followed by drinks, have a quick dinner in when you get home. Then meet up with people for a few drinks, spacing out your cocktail treats with a glass of water. Your body needs the H2O, and it will slow down your consumption as well as bring down your bill. If it’s going to be a long night, you can start off with a non-alcoholic beverage like soda or sparkling water which will help you ease into the night. Make sure that you also budget for a cab ride home or have a designated driver chosen well ahead of time.
Reinventing the Night In
Remember all those fun nights in that you used to have with friends when someone would bring over a cheesy board game or when you would improvise with a game of charades? It’s time to bring back the simple fun of those days! Invite friends over for a wine and cheese evening and have them each bring a silly game.
Have potlucks with your friends for dinner parties and have everyone bring either an appetizer, a main course, or a dessert. Better yet, have a wine tasting party with friends. Buy a flight of wines with good recommendations from a sommelier on site and hide the bottles in paper bags with the different names of the wines listed in random order. Then have your friends try to guess which names belong to which wines. You might be surprised at who has the best palate! If you have a connoisseur in your group, make them taste theirs blind.
Remember when a day out with friends cost less than $20? This probably hasn’t happened since you were a teenager. How did you pass those carefree days and still have tons of laughs and good times? It’s time to take a page out of that period of your life and learn how to have fun like a kid again!
Take a long walk to an ice cream counter with friends. Invite friends over to watch a movie and order in a pizza. Go to a karaoke bar and sing away your troubles. Hang out at the mall and grab a burger from the food court. Take a pleasure road trip out to the country and split the gas bill. Go to the local park and toss around a Frisbee. Don’t forget to bring lots of snacks!
Loyalty and Free Times
Sometimes, it pays to be loyal. If you are a collector of air miles or any other number of loyalty club or points systems, take advantage of them for freebies down the line. Many memberships are free and you can often get benefits like movie passes or discounts at certain stores. The more points you accumulate, the better your chances to get something you really want down the line.
Free times are also a great way to benefit from the museums or galleries in your area. Almost all of them have a timeslot reserved during the week where the admission is free. Research them on the internet and figure out which ones work for you.
Less is More
With all these great ideas, it would be easy to fill in your week with social engagements. But one of the best tricks to toning down your budget is that less is more. Make sure that you have a few nights a week where you stay in, either reading a book or going to the gym. A healthy, balanced lifestyle should include time to improve your mind and body, as well as time for your relationships.