When I read this title – I think of Chris Brown’s line, “I work too hard to be ballin’ on a budget.” While most of us would love to have an open-door policy with our money, unfortunately, reality doesn’t often cooperate with fantasy. So for those of you who want to have a social life but still want to keep some of that hard earned money (and not lose it to bingo or poker), here are a few of the golden rules that I follow: Rule #1: Plan...or not? When wanting to travel to Niagara Falls or somewhere far but yet still local, if you plan far enough in advance and make Google a good friend of yours, you can usually save yourself a lot of money. However, with the emergence of sites like www.priceline.com, you can save on one of the biggest costs of weekend trips – accommodations – on fairly short notice. Rule #2: Take advantage of deals nights Most restaurants, bars, and other social spots usually have some kind of special at least once or twice a week. Boston Pizza, for example, has its $10 Pasta night which I am a regular customer of, or you can always go for $10 all-you-can-eat-wings at Hooters. I would rather use up calories on a delicious burger than on a shot of Jack Daniel’s any day, but I know I’m in the minority when I say that. Rule #3: Daily Deal Sites With the explosion of well-known daily deal sites like Groupon, WagJag, and Living Social, there is no shortage of deals for activities like bowling, eating at various restaurants, and unwinding with a massage where you can get anywhere from 25% to 90% off the regular price. If you’re too lazy to go to individual sites, use www.onespout.com which aggregates the results of a number of daily deals sites in one location! Rule #4: Eat before! If you want to have a good time out with friends without being anxious about paying for a $20 meal, eat before you go out. Restaurant food is overpriced, no matter how good it is. If you are on a budget (I’m assuming you are since you’re reading this article!), then eat a good meal before you go out. Rule #5: Get there early! When you go out to a club, do you generally get there anytime between 11:30 pm and 1:00 am? I know a lot of you do because you think it’s the socially accepted norm, but most clubs offer guest list which gets you in on a discount or even free if you go before 10:30 or 11:00 pm. Ideally, try to get to the club by 10:30 pm, you get cheap or free cover AND you increase the chances of finding a free parking spot. Trust me – I know! Rule #6: Go to free events Every city has a host of free events throughout the year like amateur film festivals, free concerts, and open sporting events. In Toronto alone, upcoming events are the Hot & Spicy Food Festival in September and Nuit Blanche, a celebration of contemporary art, in October. Rule #7: Have a games night Host a game night either at your house or a friend’s, or surprisingly, at a bubble tea shop. For at around $6 or $7 (the cost of the bubble tea which is quite delicious), you are guaranteed an affordable fun night out with friends. Just don’t play Scrabble with your equally competitive friends or things can get unpleasant. But if you’re not competitive – GAME ON!
Having a social life while on a budget can be challenging at times. If you follow the suggestions above I’m sure you will not only have a great time, but you will appreciate the extra dollars in your savings account. - Aravinthan Ehamparam