You’ve worked hard all week and Friday is finally here. You could really go for a fun night out with friends to let loose and release some stress. But all those hours at the office have met their match in your dauntingly high pile of bills, and you know you can’t afford to go out on the town. Don’t sweat it! Being broke doesn’t mean your weekends have to consist of sitting in your tattered pajamas, scrolling through Instagram and living vicariously through the posts of your financially blessed friends. Try one of these five ideas for an awesome Friday night without breaking the bank.
1.Take Advantage of Happy Hour
Happy hour is the most magical time of day, when even the most broke among us can enjoy a decent cocktail without the sour aftertaste of financial guilt. Many bars have drink specials for each night of the week, and most have happy a happy hour. If you’re lucky, you may be able to snag up to 50% off at some spots. Use an app like Happy Hour Finder, Scoutmob, or Untappd, all of which are free to download. If you don’t want the night to end once happy hour has ended, take the party back to your place for a game or movie night, or go dancing.
2.Have a Game Night
Everyone loves a good old-fashioned game night. Most towns have at least a few bars that host trivia nights or Bingo once a week, and there’s sure to be a pizza place or drinkery near you that has some games on hand at the table or behind the bar. If you’re going for trivia, try to find a spot that isn’t “pay to play.” Pay to play trivia nights incentivize players to buy extra things like shots and food to earn more points, so, in the spirit of competition, you’re likely to spend a bit more cash. To save even more dough, have pals over for a game night in featuring classic party games like Apples to Apples or Trivial Pursuit.
3.Host a Movie Night
Some towns have discount theaters that show midnight movies—usually cult classics like Rocky Horror Picture Show or Labyrinth. If your town has one of these, scope their listings for a Friday late-night showing. If that’s not an option, host a themed movie night at home and encourage your friends to dress up. Serve themed appetizers or desserts and make some fun cocktails.
4. Go Dancing
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard Sia’s hit song of 2016 “Cheap Thrills.” While pop culture isn’t typically the best influence in terms of fiscal responsibility, the song hits just the right notes in describing the fun, inexpensive night out we need at the end of a long week. Get gussied up and pregame with some drinks at home before heading out. Find a spot with no cover, but a big dance floor and some good tunes. Order one or two drinks as a courtesy to the establishment, and to give yourself that comfortable dance-able buzz. Otherwise, avoid the bar and spend your time under the strobe lights dancing the night away.
5.Host a Potluck
Potlucks are a great alternative to dinner out. Not only do you save a load of cash, you’ll ensure everyone on the guest list gets something they enjoy—especially helpful if some of your friends have special diets or food intolerances. Ask people to bring a dish or drink to share and set up a big table with some fun DIY decor to set the mood. If the weather’s nice, have a barbecue and get outside to enjoy some the starlight while sitting around the fire pit.
All you need is a little creativity to have an awesome time on a budget. If you’ve got some tips of your own, share them with us in the comments!