how to party on a budget

Here’s to dancing, partying, drinking, and getting crunk without spending too much of your hard-earned money.

While being in your thirties typically involves a much higher salary, that doesn’t always equate to a larger pool of disposable income. Your money is tied up in mortgages, car payments, credit cards, childcare, and other adult expenses that you may not have had to worry about as a carefree twenty-something.

How is anyone supposed to get funky in this day and age without emptying their bank account or subsisting on ramen and ignoring your many debts? It’s easy.

Follow my guide below and learn how to get down frugally.


Determine Your Party Budget

If you’re a decent thirty-something, you’ve already mastered the art of balancing your finances.

For those of you that haven’t, it breaks down like this:

Take your total monthly incoming minus taxes, subtract your recurring charges like rent/utilities/cable/car payments/credit card payments, subtract necessities like clothing/gas/food/health costs, subtract at least 10% for savings and what you have left is your expendable income.

This is your party budget.


Pregame Hard

The first rule of party club is “thou shalt pregame.” If you’re not making the time to drink at your place or a friend’s before your night on the town, you’re doing it wrong.

Booze purchased from the liquor store is infinitely cheaper than what you pay at a bar for them to maintain their margin. Spend a few hours getting boozed up before you hit the bar or event destination and you’ll be happier, feel more social, and your pockets will be fuller.

As a bonus, if you host the pregame, lots of people will bring spirits and leave them at your house, partially stocking your future liquor stockpile.


Know the Bar Specials

Just like when it comes to voting, car shopping, or picking out your family home, it’s best to be informed.

Take notice of any advertised bar specials that satisfy your preferences and make sure you show up before the special ends. Once you’re accustomed to the local bar specials in your area, this gets easier and easier. You’ll know who has the 10$ wings and pitcher of beer special or the $3 shots or the tequila that comes with free tacos.

Take the time to scour the websites, Yelp reviews, and Facebook pages of your bar destinations and strategize accordingly. Your bank account and your friends will thank you.


Tip Extremely Well

The best way to get bartenders to hook you up is to tip extremely well. Make sure you get the same bartender each time.

If there’s a tip jar, wait until they’re looking at you to drop the money in the jar, or hand them the cash personally and tell them to keep the change.

This simple bit of etiquette can get your singles made into doubles and your mixed drinks less watered down in an instant.

Always be polite and take care of your servers/bartenders in any situation. It pays off in more ways than you think.


Stick to Liquor

While beer is amazingly delicious, especially if you live in a craft-beer-centric city like Philadelphia, it’s not the most efficient method to getting you inebriated.

Instead, I would suggest that you stick with whiskey, vodka, gin, or any kind of liquor that you can palate on its own. Personally, I’m a bourbon man.

Some may suggest sticking to well drinks because they’re cheaper, but drinking those neat or on the rocks is a disgusting experience. It’s worth the extra few dollars for something that tastes good.

The other option would be high alcohol content mixed drinks like long island iced teas. Those things are packed with different liquors and for $7-$20 (depending on your location), it’s one of the best buys you can find at a bar.


Avoid cover charges

Unless you’re going to a club, event, or seeing live music, avoid cover charges at all costs.

Why would you pay $5 to go to a local bar on a weekend night that you can attend for free during the week? You’re going to be spending money as soon as you walk through the door, so cover charges are little more than a ploy to squeeze a few extra dollars out of patrons.

No average bar is worth a cover charge. Keep that in mind.

Sometimes paying to get inside is unavoidable if you’re meeting up with people at a specific venue, but do your best to steer clear of this bullshit tactic.

Buy Tickets Early

If you’re attending a club event of any time, you’d do well to plan ahead for the sake of cost.

Most evens have a tiered pricing system that favors early adopters. If you buy early, you can save anywhere from $5-$50 bucks.

Purchasing early also gives you time to mark the event on your calendar and iron out the rest of your allotted party budget for the year.


Share Rides

In the age of Uber and Lyft, sharing rides among friends is another big money saver.

Both of these ride sharing apps have features that allow you to split the cost of the ride with your cohorts. Even if only 1 out of the 6 drunk assholes you’re with accepts the split, you’re still doing better than you were by yourself.

Also, take advantage of Uber pool and Lyft line. You may hate the idea of sharing rides with strangers, but it’s always been a fun experience for me. I’ve joked around with people, sat in awkward silence, and sometimes shared my Pringles with them.

When you’re drunk, it’s always fun to make new friends. It never lead to a particularly bad experience, so it’s definitely an option for additional savings when you’re traveling alone.


Through appropriate planning and financial common sense, you too can have a blast drinking yourself stupid without ending up penniless.

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