Here are five ways to create memorable experiences with friends and family without blowing your budget.
Dine on a dime
Restaurants and bars are common hotspots for socializing with your friends after work or on the weekends, but constant trips to the latest hotspot will drain your wallet in no time. Do you have to become a complete shut-in to avoid these expenses?
Of course not! There are plenty of ways to share laughs and good company over a meal or drink without spending excessive amounts of cash. You can:
- Host a potluck dinner party, where everyone brings one dish of the meal
- Pick up beers at the grocery store and enjoy them at a local park to avoid the restaurant mark-up on drinks (make sure to choose a DD!)
- Pack a picnic to take to a local park or green space
- Take turns hosting ‘bad dinner parties’ with a group of friends
- Take advantage of happy hours, discount days, and special discounts for students and veterans
- Host a cooking class with friends, where everyone pitches in for ingredients
You probably aren’t the only one in your group of friends who feels uneasy about spending money at restaurants and bars. It might feel a little awkward in the short term, but starting a conversation about how you can share meals in less expensive ways can help all of you save a great deal of dough in the long term!
Flex your creative muscles to save on exercise
Working out with friends is an awesome way to get your exercise in and spend quality time with your people, but let’s be real: Whether you’re into lifting weights, taking barre or yoga classes, or sweating it up in a cycling class, gym memberships are expensive. You can save a great deal of money by finding alternatives to paying for your workouts.
Our fave? Nature’s gym, AKA the great outdoors! Take a hike on a local nature trail, share a run through the pretty part of your town or city, or look for fun activities to try at your local parks.
If that’s not your thing (or the weather’s not complying), you still have many alternatives for working out together for little to no money:
- Take advantage of free days offered by local yoga studios and gyms.
- Follow fitness trainers on Instagram for home workout inspiration.
- Invest in a few sets of weights and resistance bands to create your own gym at home (or find things around the house to use in your workouts).
- Channel your inner Rocky Balboa and find some outdoor stairs to run.
- Watch YouTube videos to break a sweat practicing dance moves to your favorite songs.
Recreate memorable experiences for less
Seeing your favorite bands in concert, going to the latest escape room, or grabbing drinks at that new tiki-themed bar is a treat. But if your budget is tight, your experience is probably tainted by the guilt of spending money.
It might require a little more creativity, but there are plenty of ways to have just as much fun without spending nearly as much money. Think about what you enjoy about certain experiences:
- Is it the ambience of an open air concert? Check your local parks and libraries’ upcoming events for free concerts.
- Is it the adrenaline rush of escaping the room in just enough time? Look online for free puzzles you can solve with friends.
- The novelty of trying new drinks? Watch some YouTube tutorials to learn how to master cocktails you’ve always wanted to make at home.
If you can zero in on what it is you enjoy from those types of experiences, you can find ways to recreate the experience without spending as much money.
Make errands a social activity
We often separate the things we have to do (like going to the post office) from the things we do for fun with friends (like sharing snacks at happy hour).
But thinking this way can be limiting, especially if you’re on a budget. So why not combine them? Doing errands with friends is a great way to make the mundane more memorable while avoiding the temptation to spend money socializing.
It’s likely your friends have to do similar errands. So why not do them together? Suddenly, going to the car wash, running to the post office, or finally taking that return back to the store can seem like an adventure and a bonding experience instead of a chore. Plus, you might learn something from each other!
Enjoy quality time with quality people
Having fun on a budget is all about recognizing what makes things fun for you: If at the heart of it, having fun to you means spending time with people you love, then focus on that. Not the cool new restaurant, or the fancy upscale bowling alley-slash-speakeasy everybody’s talking about: Just spending quality time with quality people.
The novelty of a game night at home can be just as memorable as experiencing the latest and greatest night out. Swapping stories and sharing a $10 bottle of wine and a bag of chips with a dear friend can be more intimate and rejuvenating than expensive drinks at a loud bar.
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