How to have a budget night out

After a hard week’s slog there’s nothing better than a night out with friends. Pub, restaurant or cinema, it soon adds up.

If you want to have a night out to remember without breaking the bank, then here are a few rules of thumb.

Lead the way

To guarantee you don’t end up spending too much in a pricey bar or restaurant, make sure you take control and plan ahead.

A few days before you go out, look for discounts, vouchers and happy hour times at the pubs, restaurants and venues you are heading out to. If you plan on visiting more than one venue, then plan your route so that you make the most of any deals.

Obviously, make sure that you can get everywhere on foot, so you don’t need to shell out for any unnecessary cabs halfway through the night.

Get ready

Getting ready for a big night out can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Need to get your hair done? Contact local hair salons and colleges (such as Toni & Guy) because they are always on the lookout for models their trainees can practice on. And, there is no such thing as a bad free haircut. (OK, maybe there is, but it is definitely worth the risk…)

Revamp your look

Surely you can’t wear the same thing on a night out? Hell yeah you can! YouTube is absolutely brimming with cheap ideas and fun ways to bring old outfits back to life. Pinterest is always a great place to go for inspiration too. Just keep an eye on what is doable because there are some pretty crazy recycled clothes ideas out there!

If you can’t face the effort of spritzing up something from your wardrobe then have a browse around Amazon Woman’s and Men’s Fashion, eBay Fashion or Shpock for affordable items that don't require any modifications to look on point.

Getting there

OK, so you’re ready, but how do you get there? The best idea is always to agree on a designated driver, someone who doesn't drink and makes sure everyone gets home safe at the end of the night. You can either take it in turns if you regularly go out, or everyone can chip in to pay for the driver’s night out.

You could also use public transport to save money by using contactless or travel cards, as they are often cheaper than a single ticket. If you and your gang need to get a train, see if you can save money on group travelcards.

Great price grub

If your night out plans include a meal, take a look online to see what vouchers or deals are on offer. OpenTable, Hot UK Deals and vouchercloud are good places to start for discounted dishes and special offers.

If you are looking for something a little more romantic, then our guide to the perfect date night on a budget has everything you could possibly need for an affordable but intimate evening for two.

Cinema saver

Cinema tickets can be expensive, but there are many ways to lower the cost. Look out for ‘two for one’ deals from companies such as comparethemarket.com. You can also use your Tesco Clubcard, by exchanging your Tesco Clubcard points for reduced cinema tickets.

For more cinema discounts and loyalty cards, MoneySavingExpert.com have a pretty comprehensive list.

Let me in

To save money, see if the bar is having a cheaper night during the week and go then. If heading out on a Friday or Saturday night check the venue’s website to see if they will let you book tickets before the big night at a discounted price.

Lots of venues now use their social media pages to advertise places available on the guest list, so make sure to follow the place you are heading to for a spot. If you know someone at the venue, don’t be afraid to ask them if they can add you to the guest list too.

Partying tips

A few rules to stick by to ensure your spending doesn’t get out of control:

  • Always pay in cash – contactless payments might be easy but it makes it harder to keep track of what you spend. Physically handing over the money is the simplest way to monitor your moolah.
  • Never start a tab - otherwise you’ll have no idea how much your night costs until it’s too late.
  • Start a kitty - this ensures everyone spends the same amount and stays together.

Heading home

If you’re using public transport, always know when the last train home is and which night buses will be heading in your direction at the end of the night.

Staying in

If it still doesn’t seem like a night out will fit into your budget, then plan a night in instead. It doesn’t matter if you can’t make every event, especially if you don’t really know the person hosting it, so organising your own night in can be a whole lot of fun with homemade food and drinks. Plus, by missing it, you can save more money for your next big night out.