going out with friends budget

The Art of Going Out: Don’t Get the Morning-After Chill

•  3 minute read

How do you create room in your budget to have fun without giving yourself a financial hangover?

Managing my finances in most spheres of my life is straightforward, if not always easy. I understand the general concepts of what I need to do to save, and by keeping my grocery and spending allowance in cash, I generally don’t have too many problems with overspending on those purchases.

This budget is particularly difficult to manage, because “over-21 socializing” in cities is largely spontaneous and unpredictable.

However, I find one element of budgeting very difficult to do. I like to call it the “post-grad party budget,” and it’s behind most of my errant spending.

The post-grad party budget involves the following:

  • Liquor purchases
  • Cover fees at bars
  • Uber rides
  • Late-night food purchases
  • Extraneous late-night purchases
  • Venmo transactions to other friends for the above-mentioned fees

This budget is particularly difficult to manage, because “over-21 socializing” in cities is largely spontaneous and unpredictable. Furthermore, it is incredibly difficult to maintain financial focus when you are… let’s call it “mildly incapacitated.”

Some nights when I go out, I will spend upwards of $70. Other nights, I will spend no money whatsoever.

I have deployed several strategies to put a lid on my party budget, such as only bringing cash out, but nothing really works. It’s my financial Achilles’ heel.

The advice I find online, though perhaps helpful, really bothers me. It is a simplistic approach to a complex sphere of finance. The overall answer to the party budget is as follows: “Go out less. Stay in more.”

It also bothers me that no one likes to discuss this within financial blogs or “budgeting articles” because of the connotations of admitting that you drink alcohol. This is absurd to me – the majority of the world’s adults drink alcohol, and people in their 20s and 30s should absolutely be able to gain insight into how to incorporate their “going out” within their budgets without feeling marginalized. As of now, the advice I find simply implies that you shouldn’t be doing it.

That’s not a solution. It’s an attempt to negate the sphere in its entirety.

I am happy to make my food at home, to try to brew most of my coffee in my apartment, and to look at second-hand clothing that’s less expensive, but I’m not willing to stay in on weekends and not go out with friends while I’m in my twenties.

Going out – whatever that incredibly vague term has come to mean – allows me to meet new people and try new things. The solution to “just stay in” or to “go home after happy hour to save money” is not one I’m willing to consider.

For now, my older sister is helping me map out my finances, and the goal is to spend less than $60 average per weekend on my party budget. This may seem like a lot, but it goes very quickly! Last weekend, these were my costs:

  • $15 dollars for cumulative Uber purchases
  • $45 dollars for alcohol
  • $10 for late night food consumption (I’m not proud of this one…)

Regular hangovers can be brutal, but a financial hangover is even worse.

There is nothing more miserable than waking up and kicking yourself for all of the money you spent the night before.

This is not an exclusive problem for “crazy partiers”– a phrase that, I might add, my friends would laugh until they cried at the thought of considering me to be one. Even getting drinks with dinner can be crazy expensive, and will generally double the total of your check at most restaurants.

I don’t have an answer for this aspect of my finance. If anyone has any suggestions or personal experience, I would love to hear it. The post-grad party budget is a fickle business, after all.