If you’re like most people, spending time with friends is one of your favorite things to do. In fact, the fun-loving people over at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that socializing is Americans' second most common leisure activity (after watching TV).
But let's face it: Whether you're a social butterfly or enjoy spending time with a few close friends, it can be a challenge to strike a balance between fun and financial responsibility. Fortunately, you don't have to sacrifice time with your favorite people in order to stick to your budget. These money-saving tips can help.
Save Money When You Go Out
Food and drink often go hand in hand with social plans, but this doesn’t mean you have to overspend when you go out.
- Splitting the dinner bill evenly could mean you’re helping pay for your friend’s pricey steak dinner. Ask for separate checks before ordering.
- Dine out during the day to take advantage of lower-cost lunch menu items.
- Order an appetizer for your main course and get water instead of a soda or alcoholic beverage.
- You can save at many popular restaurants by buying discounted restaurant gift cards at wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club or through online gift card marketplaces.
- Bars and restaurants mark up alcoholic beverages by 200% or much more. To keep your restaurant bill lower, start with pre-dinner drinks at someone’s home instead or choose a BYOB restaurant.
Of course, staying in is often the easiest way to spend time with friends while saving money.
- Take advantage of amenities at your and your friends’ homes and neighborhoods, like swimming pools, parks and picnic areas, and walking and bike paths.
- Hold potlucks or cookouts with your friends, or plan monthly game nights and take turns hosting.
- Are you and your friends obsessed with the same TV show? Watch it together. Streaming services make it easy to work around everyone’s schedule.
Go Places with Free or Low-Cost Admission
At some businesses and attractions, you can take advantage of special prices for certain days or times of year.
- Some movie theaters offer discounted tickets on certain weekdays, and matinees almost always cost less than evening shows.
- Amusement parks may drop admission prices in the late afternoons and sometimes during pre- or post-season months.
- Museums and other attractions often offer free or reduced admission on certain days. For example, Dover's Biggs Museum of American Art offers free admission on select Downtown Dover Festival Days.
- During warmer weather, take advantage of the many parks and beaches that are just a short drive away.
- You'll find lots of attractions, including theme parks, sporting events, and museums, that offer discounted admission for active-duty military personnel.
Use Special Offers
Websites like Groupon and LivingSocial offer great deals on a wide range of activities. Sometimes you can score a discount from a business just by purchasing tickets online ahead of time. Or, for concerts and theater, you could save on fees by purchasing your tickets in person at the venue box office.
Also, sign up for restaurant reward programs to earn credits toward discounted or free items.
Look for Free Local Events
Have fun while supporting your community by taking part in local events like craft fairs, farmers markets, and free outdoor concerts. Better yet, get together with your friends and volunteer at your community’s next event!
Be Upfront About Your Spending Limits
What's affordable for one person may be extravagant for another. If you’re concerned about overspending on a pricey restaurant or concert, be honest with your friends about your financial limitations. They'll likely be understanding and more conscientious about your needs the next time you’re planning an activity.
Financial Tips & Tools to Help You Live Better
At Dover Federal, we know that being financially savvy helps you enjoy more of what life has to offer. Visit our P3 Financial Literacy Hub for valuable financial education and budget tips to help you manage money better.