How to have a big night with little spend

As much as we can budget and plan and save, there is one overwhelmingly large recurring thing that has the ability to deplete our finances like no other… a night out on the town.

A night out can vary in expense depending on which end of the YOLO Scale it falls on, from a quiet and relatively cheap drink after work to ‘I can’t remember where I left my wallet’.

But if you don’t do it right, the frivolity will hurt your finances much more than is necessary.

To counter this, here are nine ways to have a big night out with little spend.

1. Pre-game on!

Rule number one: pre-drink as much as is responsible and possible before you go out. Bottle store purchases are much cheaper than equivalent bar purchases, plus organising pre-drinks is a great excuse to rally the troops and form a game plan before the night really begins.


2. Eating isn’t cheating

Like pre-drinking, eating before you go out is another good move. One, it will stop you from peaking too early, and two, it can reduce the risk of waking up the next day and finding a $50 Kebab receipt in your pocket. Better yet, share the burden of providing food and get everyone to bring a platter, dip or packet of chips!


3. BYO

This applies mostly to restaurants; just Google your city and ‘BYO restaurants’ and I guarantee you’ll be able to find a comprehensive list of places you can bring your $3 bargain bin cleanskin (no judgement).


4. Happy Hour is happy for a reason

Yes this takes a bit of planning, but can go a long way to protecting your wallet against your future more lubricated self. Hit up The Happiest Hour to find your desired happy hour of choice. And for those on the East Coast, The Urban List frequently publishes lists of cheap bars, clubs and restaurants that I’d recommend.

5. Around and around

Let’s face it, you’re not a baller. Don’t get sucked into rounds when you can barely afford to pay for your own drinks, let alone other people’s. And there’s always ‘that guy’ that skips out before their turn comes around. You don’t like that guy and you don’t want to be that guy either.


6. Set a budget

Work out a realistic budget before hand and get out that amount of cash. DO NOT rely on your card or you will lose track of your spending and you will regret it. Keep cards in a place that ensures you won’t whip them out for every trip to the bar, but they’re there in case of emergencies.


7. Schmooze

I hate to say this but playing to the ego of the door bitch, bartender or DJ will get you lots of places, for free! Making friends with these people (you don’t have to like them) can led to free entry, drinks on the house and access to the VIP area, where there are always rich people you can make friends with who will buy you drinks.


8. Taxi!

While public transport is the cheapest option, sometimes safety and sanity depend on getting a cab home at 4am (or 1 in Sydney). If you’re going to do that, make sure to check your apps, my favourites are Uber and GoCatch, which frequently email out discounts and promotions to their customer base for your inebriated convenience.


9. Home is where the party is

At the end of the day, everyone loves a good house party. If nights out on the town are wearing thin in quality and doing the same to your wallet, take turns with friends in hosting house parties.

Everyone brings their own supplies, and rolls off your couch or returns the next day for the clean up job.

All it’ll cost you is a couple of obligatory bags of Doritos. Bacon and eggs for the hungover cleanup crew is classy, but not compulsory.