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Frugal Fun: 6 Tips For A Budget-Friendly Social Life

As a single woman living in a large metropolitan city, I am always looking for fun things to do to get me out of the house.

But, I also know that going out, whether to a concert, restaurant, or special event can easily set me back $30, $40, maybe even $50!

For a budget-conscious person like me, that’s a lot of money to spend for a night out.

As much as I would love to accept every invitation, or participate in every event without thinking about the cost, this is not realistic for my lifestyle.

When you have financial goals like paying off debt, building your emergency fund, or saving for a home, there are sacrifices that you must be willing to make to achieve those goals.

However, there are ways to stick to your budget and goals without completely sacrificing fun and quality time with your friends.

Let’s discuss tips for a fun-filled, active social life that won’t derail your financial independence goals.

6 Tips For A Budget-Friendly Social Life

Create A ‘Fun’ Budget Category

This tip assumes that you already have a budget set up.

If not, there are lots of tools out there, from apps to Excel budgeting templates. I use both the EveryDollar app and the One Big Happy Life budgeting spreadsheet for my monthly budget.

Once you have your budget set up, create a category specifically for fun, social outings. Consider a realistic amount, factoring in how frequently you go out, what kinds of activities you enjoy, and extras like parking and cover charges.

This will require discipline because, once the money is spent, you will have to start declining invitations to hang out.

You can minimize the possibility of prematurely blowing your fun budget by planning ahead.

Plan Ahead

Spontaneity is fine now and then when it comes to having a fun, active life.

However, if you want to make your budget last for a month’s worth of activities, planning ahead is the way to go.

Reach out to your friends ahead of time to plan girls’ nights out for the upcoming month. Decide where you’re going, who’s driving, and if there are parking fees, cover charges, etc. Take a look at the restaurant’s menu online so that you’ll know what you should expect to spend.

For events involving buying tickets, I would suggest confirming that everyone has purchased their tickets well in advance of the event date. The last thing you need is to lose your money because people flaked out at the last-minute.

Also, for birthday, graduation, and other celebrations, keep the gift budget separate so that you’re not taking away from your fun budget.

Order Light & Skip The Extras

I always look forward to going out to dinner with friends, whether trying a new restaurant or visiting a tried and true favorite. But, when you factor in appetizers, entrées, dessert and drinks, the bill can quickly add up.

Instead of an entrée, consider ordering a small plate or appetizer as your meal. I’ll sometimes have a later or bigger lunch at home, and order light so that I am not spending more than I can afford for a meal.

Also, instead of pricey drinks and dessert at the restaurant, plan an after dinner hang out at a friend’s house, where everyone pitches in for wine and dessert.

Look For Deals

There is no shortage of apps and money-saving websites offering deals on your favorite restaurants, events, and local hang out spots.

A quick Internet search of cheap things to do in (insert your city) will certainly yield results.

I am a huge fan of Groupon, and even used it recently to purchase a voucher for speed dating! You can sign up for free within minutes and find deals for movie tickets, restaurants, and concerts just to name a few.

Also, keep in mind that restaurants tend to have specials during the week. Those Happy Hour deals aren’t just for drinks, as many restaurants also offer half-priced appetizers and a special discounted dinner menu during that time frame. Consider having an after work meet up with your girlfriends to save a few bucks on dinner.

Get Creative

Getting social doesn’t always have to include an expensive dinner or concert.

Check out your city’s free festivals and outdoor events featuring local artists.

If the weather is nice, pitch in with friends to grill out at someone’s house while enjoying board games, music, and conversation.

Invite a friend on a morning walk, and grab breakfast or brunch afterwards. It is usually much less expensive than going out to dinner.

Sacrifice and Save

As much as you would love to go to every party, restaurant, or event you’re invited to, this may not be feasible, especially when you have a finite amount of money to spend every month on fun activities.

Sometimes, it is better to pass on these invitations, choosing instead to save your money for a special occasion or event.

For example, if you’ve been planning for months to buy tickets for your favorite singer’s concert, you may have to make that your only outing that month, saying no to impromptu girls’ nights out.

Remember, there is no shame in declining an opportunity to hang out if your budget doesn’t allow it.

You have nothing to prove to anyone; blowing your budget to save face is never OK and will interfere with your long-term financial independence goals.

How Do You Budget For Fun?

Which of the tips above resonates most with you? How do you create a budget that includes fun activities? Have you recently declined an invitation to hang out with friends because it wasn’t in the budget?

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