Socialising On A Budget

You don’t have to miss out on fun with friends when you’re not flash with cash

Dine in – and dish out the duties!

Heading out for a meal with friends can get expensive – but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fun! Bring the restaurant to you, and recreate the dining experience at home.

  • Set a theme and a suggested menu, and invite some friends around for a dinner party.
  • Split the menu between you – ask each guest to bring a dish to help split the cost between you all.
  • Or throw caution to the wind and make it a ‘pot luck’ night – have all your guests surprise you with their dish, and what course it’s for. Sure, you might end up with five desserts, but you’ll all have a great time eating them all!
  • Either way, also make it BYO drinks so that as host you don’t get lumped with a big spend on alcohol.

And the best part is that as host, you don’t have to worry about a cab fare home!

Dining out when you can’t splash the cash

We’ve all been there – you carefully order the cheapest main meal on the menu, skip entrée and dessert and go easy on the drinks – only to find at the end of the night that everyone wants to split the bill equally, and your cost doubles as you help pay for everyone’s expensive meals and drinks.

  • When deciding on which restaurant you’ll go to, request it be ‘cheap and cheerful’ and make a few suggestions to try and get your dining companions on board.
  • Honesty is the best policy here – take a set amount of cash and before ordering explain you’re on a tight budget and need to pay only for what you order (don’t forget to include a small amount for a tip too).
  • If they’re your friends they’ll understand, and you might find that they are in the same situation as you but were too embarrassed to say it!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for tap water, instead of that fancy sparkling water the waiter offering (at a very fancy price!).

Boozing on a budget

You can still enjoy a few drinks without having to splash too much cash.

  • Get happy in happy hour! Keep an eye out for early bird specials on drinks and meals, and time it right to enjoy a night out at a fraction of the price.
  • Skip the queue – and the cover charge. If you’re keen for a spot of dancing, many clubs offer free entry earlier in the night – so head along early (after happy hour!) and get your boogie on while staying on budget.
  • Try to stick to the ‘one on – one off’ rule, and alternate every alcoholic drink you have with a water or soft drink. Not only will your hip pocket thank you, but your waistline will too!
  • Don’t get stuck in a shout. Avoid getting into rounds and instead just pay for your own drinks. You’ll be better able to control how much you’re spending.
  • Pina colada, anyone? Host a cocktail party at home! There’s a great guide here. Decide on one or two cocktails, divvy up the list of ingredients between your guests so you split the cost between you, and ask everyone to bring a plate of food.

Get fit with your friends

Catching up with friends doesn’t have to be all about eating and drinking – why not combine socialising with a workout?

  • Go bushwalking, cycling, swimming, or even enjoy a game of tennis together.
  • Sign up for a fun run or trek as a team with some buddies. Part of your commitment will involve lots of training together, so you’ll end up getting fit fast as well as spending lots of time having fun with your friends.

Try your hand at Trivia!

Grab a gang of friends (hopefully including a few smart ones!) and head to your local pub for trivia night. It’s a fabulous, fun and free way to get together for a few laughs and pick up a few fun facts along the way. Who knows – you could even win a cash prize!

Enjoy the flicks for next to nix

You can enjoy a cheap night out at the movies without having to limit your options to Cheap Tuesday or the weekly kid’s movie special.

  • Cheap movie tickets for Telstra customers
  • Cheap movie tickets for Optus customers
  • RACQ members can score discounts on movie tickets, theme parks, restaurants and more
  • The NRMA also offers members cheap movie tickets, as well as great discounts on other entertainment
  • And don’t forget to reap the rewards of all those reward cards in your wallet – they often build up valuable reward points that can be redeemed for tickets and purchases.

Get choosy

Remember, you don’t have to say yes to every invitation that comes your way.

  • We’re not suggesting you turn into a hermit, just that your budget will benefit if you learn to prioritise the outings you really want to go on.
  • Choose to save your cash every now and then, and stay in! If you crave company, invite a buddy around for a movie night.