It’s hard to have fun when you’re also trying to save money going out on a college budget.
Especially if you’re that guy or girl who is susceptible to getting crazy and buying shots for everyone within an ear distance.
But do that, and then you would have to be a brave soul to check your bank account the next morning.
Or if you have the guts to add up last month’s purchases at the bars, that could make you want to throw up more than a double shot of Bacardi 151.
As a college student, this is money you can’t afford to waste. College is expensive enough when you consider tuition, housing, food, and textbooks.
The crazy thing is that it’s not uncommon for college students to spend $300 a month or more on drinks. And drinking an extra few thousands dollars a year is insane. It’s not like you have a full-time job to cover these expenses—no problem.
After making many money mistakes at the bar during my freshman and sophomore year, I didn’t want to continue blowing my money.
So eventually I learned how to optimize fun and minimize my spending when going out.
Here’s the exact system I used in college—and I still use today since I’m frugal—to save money when going out. Give it a try and I guarantee it will also work for you.
Decide Your Spending Limit In Advance
Post after post on Take Your Success revolve around having a plan:
- Increase Productivity By Planning The Night Before
- Prioritize Your Most Important Task First Thing In The Morning
- 33 Things You Must Bring On A Road Trip
- How To Use Twitter To Find A Job
And the same is true here. You need a spending plan before you start drinking and go out. With no plan, you can let the night get the best of you and spend five times as much as you planned on.
So when you’re in the shower, changing clothes, or putting on makeup, think of how much you can (not how much you want to) reasonably spend tonight. I’d say a $20 maximum is a good amount.
If you have more money, then increase that spending limit. If your bank account is struggling, decrease the limit or decide not to spend any money at the bars. You can get your liquid confidence in at the pregame for far cheaper.
The point is that you take the few minutes to decide on a spending limit while you have a clear head.
Leave Your Credit Card At Home
It’s one thing to have a plan, it’s another thing to execute it.
When you bring your credit card to the bar, are already four drinks deep, the music is blaring, you’re trying to get the attention of some pretty guy or girl, and you want another shot, then your spending limit is going to be the last thing on your mind.
Don’t give yourself this option of reckless spending.
Since you can’t spend more money than you bring, put yourself in position to be smart by leaving your credit card in your room. Only bring the amount of cash for your spending limit and you’ll always have a safety net.
This is the only solution to avoid checking your account balance in the morning and in horror seeing you spent $73 at the bar.
Plus, a small side benefit is you won’t ever lose your credit card if you don’t bring it out. Worrying about who has it and did they charge items to your card is always a pain.
Maximize The Pregame
A pregame is the party that comes before the actual party or event. And the pregame at your friend’s place or the fraternity house is also the perfect place to fill your cup up for free.
You can get your hands on as much beer, wine, mixed drinks, and shots as you want at the pregame. And without going overboard, do that to save money later in the night.
Even if you decide to pregame at your house with your housemates, your alcohol is going to be significantly cheaper than at the bars.
Say your beer of choice is Bud Light. Buy a 24-pack case and each beer is less than $1. But at the bar, you need to dish out $4 for one Bud Light. The bar’s markup is nuts.
Or if you want shots, you can buy a bottle for $20 from the liquor store. At the bar, four shots can cost you $20.
So start the pregame with a drink, drink during it, and when you leave the pregame to go to the bar, remember to chug that last drink. Because the moment you enter that bar, the cost to drink just skyrocketed.
If you perfectly maximize the pregame, you won’t need to buy drinks at the bar. Make this your goal!
Go For The Drink Specials
These drink specials will not only save you money, but they offer an excuse to try something new instead of always getting the same drink.
And drink specials are huge because you can often get three drinks for the same cost as one regular price drink. Some of you might prefer quality over quantity, but there are specials where you can get both quality and quantity.
Don’t forget about restaurants, because they will also join bars to offer enticing drink specials.
For example, my college housemates and I would go to this Mexican restaurant because of their cheap margarita specials on Thursday nights. Free chips and salsa didn’t hurt either.
When you’re familiar with your college’s off-campus scene, you can find a drink special at a bar or restaurant for almost every day of the week.
Avoid Drunk Eating
We’ve all done it. After a long night out of drinks with your friends, willpower is out the window and the only thing on your mind is getting greasy food on your way home.
Whether that’s a sub from Jimmy John’s, pizza from your local campus pizza spot, McDonald’s, or Taco Bell, it’s another $8 on your night’s tab.
Multiply $8 by every time you go out during the school year and you’d be shocked at how much money that adds up to.
Also, if make drunk eating a consistent theme then you shouldn’t be surprised if you get fat in college. Unfortunately, it’s the truth. Because no one has said they want fruit and vegetables at 2 am.
Not to mention that drunk eating messes up your intermittent fasting routine. So of course it’s not worth it, duh.
But seriously, save the calories and save the money by drinking water and going to bed. Your body and bank account will be better for it.
Walk Home When Reasonable
It’s ridiculous to get an Uber when your walk home is less than 15 minutes. That’s just throwing money down the drain and (what’s worse is) enabling your laziness.
At Miami, I would walk home 25 minutes from the bar to my place and had no problem doing it. It wasn’t even a question to get a ride unless one of my friends stayed in to study and would pick us up—a rare occurrence.
Part of the fun became the walk home hearing funny stories of what happened during people’s night. Walking home builds good camaraderie around your friends and sets a precedent to not walk alone at night on campus.
To save money by walking home means guys need to suck it up and girls need to take off your heels.
Of course, if you go to school in the middle of a major city and your dorm is an hour walk, then you need to take an Uber. And everything changes if it’s raining, snowing, or hailing.
Other than that, get some late-night exercise and burn off those extra calories by walking back.
Fill Up The Uber
If you can’t walk home and need to take an Uber or taxi, don’t take it by yourself or with one other friend. You’re paying an overly expensive rate for no reason.
Instead, pack that sucker with as many people as possible. If the car fits four passengers, then pack it with six and split the bill. Take two strangers if they’re going to a similar place.
Think of each extra person as another number to divide that total.
Make your plan to go out with a group of friends, and come back with a group of friends. Strength in numbers is the idea.
Decreasing the costs on top of your drinking money makes a huge difference if you go out all the time.
Follow the steps above and you will save money while not being a mooch when you’re going to the bars with your college friends.
You’ll also have more fun when you don’t have to worry about tossing a grenade to your bank account every night you go out.
More money to your name is always a good outcome.
If you want to seriously start the path to getting rich and reaching financial freedom, buy my book Freedom Money and you’ll get your money to work hard for you.