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If there’s one thing I learned from my no-spend fails (most notably September), it’s that going out is expensive! I seriously don’t know how people manage to go out to bars, clubs, and restaurants multiple times per week. Just getting a few drinks generally puts me over budget for my nights out!
That all got me thinking – just how expensive is going out for an average person? And what steps can you take to reduce the costs? Read on to find out!
How Much Does the Average Person Spend on a Night Out?
Going out is expensive. According to Event Bright, the average person spends about eighty bucks in a single night out! In addition, they tend to go out twice per week. That’s $160 a week in nights out, or $640 a month. That’s more than the average car payment, and a little less than half of the average rent payment!
How Much Does a Night Out Drinking Cost?
The Event Bright study exclusively looked at nightlife events, such as clubs and music events. If you want to go to the neighborhood bars, you can probably save a little money, but according to Vice, it won’t be much. They concluded that a night out costs $74 on average, just slightly lower than the Event Bright study. I’m guessing the Vice study included both, so just drinking will probably cost you a little less.
However, drinks can get pricey, even at the cheapest bars. I mean, I’ve been to local dive bars where they serve two-dollar drafts, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. Most beers cost between five and seven bucks, and mixed drinks are usually more. A couple going on a date can easily spend thirty dollars or more on just a few drinks.
Why Do People Go Clubbing?
All this talk about a how expensive a night out drinking really is makes me wonder – why do people even go clubbing in the first place? It’s hot, loud, and expensive. I can’t really answer that, everyone likes different things and different environments. From what I understand, people flock to clubs for the dancing. I’ve never been into dancing (or loud things – I think I was 30 years old when I was born), but I’m not here to judge people who are.
Clubs are generally on the pricier end of the nightlife experience though. They usually charge a cover to get in and have inflated drink prices. If clubbing is your style, you’re going to pay more.
If you want to save money on clubbing, you can try limiting your outings to once or twice a month, or going to the clubs on special nights with free covers. When I visited my sister in Florida in the long ago (I mean seriously, I think I was barely 21!) the Orlando nightclubs had “Ladies Night” where women could get in free of charge. We definitely took advantage of that to make our night out cheaper!
How Can I go out with No Money?
Sometimes, we just want to go out for the environment. We want to be able to hang out with our friends and have a good time. The insane expense of going out can put a damper in that, but there are ways to go out with no money.
When I lived in Los Angeles, my colleagues would have happy hours all the time. It was a great opportunity to get together and have fun outside of the stuffy work environment. I loved going, but I didn’t want to spend money.
Fortunately, all my friends are awesome, and nobody judged me for going and just ordering a glass of water (people who would judge probably wouldn’t make good friends). I got to enjoy the pleasure of all my friends’ company, but didn’t have to pay for it. This is always an option if you want to enjoy some good company but don’t want to pay for drinks.
You can also host game nights and pot lucks at home as a way to hang out with your friends without destroying your budget. Once my friends all started buying houses, we couldn’t afford to go out anymore. But we did always invite each other over for dinners, karaoke nights, movie nights, game nights, and anything else. The company was always more important than what we were doing.
Eating Out is Expensive
Going out doesn’t just mean going out drinking. In fact, most of my going out revolves around going out to eat. Sometimes you just want a delicious meal that you don’t have to cook or clean up after, right? And sometimes you want a specific meal that you just don’t know how to make – those cravings really are killer. But, going out is expensive, and eating out is going to cost you.
How Much Does the Average Person Spend on Eating Out?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spends nearly $3500 per year going out to eat. That’s almost $300 a month. And remember, the average includes households of one, so if you are in a partnership, you might be paying twice that amount.
It’s difficult to ascertain how much its costs to eat out on average due to the huge variety in restaurant styles and prices. Fast food is on the cheap end of the scale, but even that is getting crazy expensive. You used to be able to get a full meal for about five bucks, and now, unless you stick to the dollar menu, it’s closer to ten. It cost my boyfriend and I nearly thirty bucks for one meal at Five Guys! Full service causal fine dining restaurants are even more expensive. It costs over ten bucks for most meals, and when you add in drinks, tip, and taxes, you are generally going to be paying over thirty bucks – even more if you order a drink from the bar.
How Much Money do You Save by Not Eating Out?
Clearly not going out to eat can save you tons of money! If you’re spending three hundred dollars a month on eating out, you can save that three hundred dollars by not eating out. That seems simple enough, doesn’t it?
But I know that isn’t realistic. I tried to limit myself to only two nights out per month during my no spend year, and I failed at even that multiple times. Sometimes you just need to go out. But the challenge did help me cut down on eating out. I actually did manage to limit myself to eating out twice a month a few of those months, and that’s much better than the twice a week average. And I only went out 4 or 5 times per month during my biggest fail months, which is also better.
You can also find ways to save money when you do go out to eat. You can avoid overpriced drinks from the bar, avoid an appetizer, and even share a main course. Or you can go super cheap and order from the dollar menu at your favorite fast food place. Sometimes you are out and hungry and just have to eat something.
The best option though, is to try to eat at home more often.
Easy Eat at Home Options
The reason why we spend so much freaking money on going out to eat is that its so easy! When you go out to eat, you don’t have to worry about food prep or cleaning up. All you have to do is show up, eat, and pay. With our insidious work culture that takes up the bulk of our time, that option is tough to resist.
One awesome thing that I did this year to help me eat at home more was to get the healthy meal planning ultimate bundle. It’s filled with easy recipes (some only require one pot!) that pretty much anyone can make (even me!). And they’ve all been delicious! Click here to get this year’s Healthy Meal Planning Ultimate Bundle before the year is up, or click here to read my full review.
If you don’t want to pay for a meal plan, you can always try to find awesome recipes online. There are tons of them, but its hard to sort through them to find what you want. Making a weekly meal plan off of online recipes sounds awful to me, but it might be worthwhile to you!
Going out is Expensive
Going out is expensive, life in general is expensive, and wages are stagnant so we can’t really afford any of it. I understand why my generation is over it and so many of us decided to aspire for financial independence. This “normal” crap is out of reach! What are some things that you do to make it better?
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.