Weekends are a drain on my wallet. There’s something satisfying about splurging on yourself after a long week of hard work and to a certain extent, there’s nothing wrong with that. You deserve to spend your hard-earned money on yourself. But if I were to comb through my expenses, I’d quickly find that 90% of my unnecessary purchases are food and alcohol related. And about half of those splurges happen on the weekend. So weekends seems like the most obvious area to target when trying to save money.
There are just too many opportunities for us to over spend on the weekend. Friday drinks after work. Brunch, which now somehow extends to both Saturday and Sunday. Sunday night takeout with Game Of Thrones or Girls. If you’re going out drinking both nights, or going out to eat multiple times, your weekend tab can get very steep, very quickly. And yet it never feels excessive because everyone around you is spending just as much money. It doesn’t even feel like a splurge, it just feels like the norm.
At my spending worst (and fortunately, this happens very infrequently now), here’s a typical weekend cost breakdown for me, or most people I know in their 20s:
Two drinks out at a bar on Friday night, $20.
Taking an Uber both ways to the bar, $15 – $50.
Saturday night dinner out, $40.
Sunday brunch, $30.
Already that’s $105 – $140 and that’s not even considering potential late night food, grabbing coffee on Saturday morning, buying a 6-pack or a bottle of wine to share with guests, or going out drinking on the second night.
With that in mind, here are 9 ways to cut back on your expenses this weekend:
1. Vow to not use your Uber app.
If you’re in city with a good subway system, promise yourself that you will only use the metro as transport on the weekends. Instead of using the fact that the bars close later than the metro as an excuse to take an Uber, use that as motivation to leave the bar earlier and make your train. If you’re hesitant to take the metro by yourself, find a friend who will swear off Uber with you and join you on the subway.
2. Host Brunch at your house on Sunday morning.
And have everyone bring something. It can be on short notice because all you need to do is send out a quick email or group text saying that you’ll host, and will make a 1-3 dishes, or provide the alcohol, and then ask everyone to bring something. Don’t be shy about offering suggestions on what people should bring because they’ll probably appreciate it.
3. Offer to drive as an excuse not to drink.
If you’re in a driving city, I can’t recommend this solution enough. I will not let myself take an Uber if it’s going to cost me anymore than $10 to get home. So, if someone wants to go out across town, my options are either to drive or not go at all. If you drive, a) your friends will typically offer to chip in for valet so you don’t spend half an hour looking for parking. And b) needing to drive home forces you to not drink at all, or buy no more than one drink. (Obviously, if you go over your drink limit, please spring for an Uber no matter what.)
4. Treat yourself to cold brew or nice coffee in bulk, instead of going out for coffee
When you’re exhausted after a long week (or hungover), it seems like a necessary expense to spend $4 on fAnCy iced coffee on a quiet mid-morning Saturday walk. To dissuade myself from doing this, I’ve tried to spend a little more on at-home coffee up front, so I am not tempted to buy a cup of coffee at the Intelligensia near my house. I buy cold brew at Trader Joe’s (which cost $8 up front) and can get about 15 cups of coffee out of it.
5. Find a cocktail recipe that that will work with cheaper booze
Having a go-to cheap liquor pick is a great thing. (At a bar, I drink gin and tonics because I honestly think gin is the best tasting well liquor.) Choose a liquor that you don’t mind drinking the cheap version of. And then find a cocktail to perfectly pair with it. There are more options than you think, and livening up a drink at home will always be cheaper than ordering one out.
6. Instead of going out to dinner and a movie for ~date night~, have a picnic in the park
You and your partner, of course, deserve to get fancy for each other every so often instead of staying in with your go-to affordable wine and a movie. But going all out can sometimes be unreasonably expensive. Instead, buy appetizers/snacks at the grocery (bread, cheese, olives), and cook an easy-to-make main dish (even pasta or a simple chicken dish you’d make any other night). Pack it up and take it to the park. Then revel in how much being outdoors in the summer can elevate your every day meal.
7. Limit yourself to one drink at the bar, or at dinner or brunch and drink seltzer or soda for the rest of the night.
As someone who didn’t drink for a lot of college, I often choose to only have one drink because it’s an easy way for me to save money. Whenever I go that route, I get a glass of seltzer at the bar because it spares you the agony of being asked over and over why you’re not drinking. As long as you’re holding cola, people will assume you’re drinking rum and coke and you don’t have to explain that you’re trying to cut back, or stick to a budget.
8. Eliminate any going out options that have a cover.
If you’re paying before you even order a drink, or food, then is it really worth it? Getting tickets to a play or show you really want to see is one thing. Choosing a venue just because their dance floor is slightly less sticky, or because they have that band that’s supposed to be awesome even though no one’s ever heard of them, isn’t worth it if you have to pay a cover.
9. Outfit swap so you aren’t buying a new outfit for the weekend.
Of course you aren’t buying a new outfit every Saturday to wear out that evening, but we spend more money on going out clothes, or a dress we only wear once for an event, than is necessary. Instead of considering picking up a new shirt to wear on Saturday, or succumbing to your online shopping craving, invite a friend over to exchange a few shirts for the weekend. You’ll end up feeling like you’re wearing a new top without ever swiping your credit card.