How to be broke and party

Is it a club night or a bar night? Do we grab dinner beforehand or after? Is it okay if I wear out what I wore last week or will everyone notice? I didn’t put anything on my Instagram, so it’s fine, right? It’s Saturday night in Boston and the majority of 20-somethings are getting ready to go out. The hard-hitting questions are being asked.

You’re excited. You’ve spent the whole work week dreaming of popping bottles. But wait! You remember – you ordered takeout on Tuesday, had to get something done to your car on Thursday (you’re pretty sure the dudes at the auto service place overcharged you, but you know nothing about cars so what were you going to do?) and made an Amazon order for something – you can’t really remember what but you definitely need it – yesterday. You check your bank account and you don’t like what you see. You don’t know if you can swing it. Does this sound familiar?

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We’ve all been there. But I have good news, my friend. The “LOW FUNDS” notification from your bank app that has been blowing up your phone doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your entire night.

I spent practically the entire summer sweating every time I checked my bank account, constantly disappointed by the balance I saw. I was ~technically~ an intern on an intern’s salary and newly paying bills. Discretionary income wasn’t part of my life. But I was new to the city and determined to explore it regardless of my lack of cash. The fomo was settled somewhere deep in my soul and I couldn’t shake it.

Good news: There is a way to party AND be broke without waking up Sunday morning to aggressive low funds messages from your bank and spending-induced regrets. Trust me, I’m an expert. The following are the tips I learned the hard way, that I’m sharing with you so you don’t have to.

Nips are your new best friends

Oh you don’t like hard liquor without chasers? Too bad. You and I both know that Miller Light in your hand shouldn’t be $12 but you paid for it anyway. Why? Because you’re not making the proper sacrifices. Nobody likes taking nips! It isn’t fun, but being broke is even less fun. Sometimes, in life, you have to do the hard things. This is one of those times. Of course pregaming is a money saver, but I’m going to become your mother for a second and remind you that it’s probably not the best idea to gulp down 5 mixed drinks before stepping out the door. Nips are easy to sneak in, and provide a cost effective alternative to buying drinks at the bar and a less shameful alternative to trying to get someone to buy drinks for you.

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Don’t pay for cover

If bars aren’t your thing, I don’t blame you. Most Boston-area bars are decorated with Irish symbols and neon Bud Light signs and seem to constantly be playing the Patriots on 15 widescreen TVs right next to each other on full volume so you can hear whistles and some dude mumbling about what’s happening in the game over everyone in the bar screaming over one another. Everyone’s wasted enough that it’s half-tolerable, it smells like cigarettes and cheap beer and the floor is sticky for some reason. Maybe there’s a back room with a DJ you vaguely remember from somewhere else. Someone’s just requested Ke$ha and the crowd loses their minds, this is their song. High school memories come flooding back. I’m sure there’s some bars worth going to, but I haven’t found them yet.

But I digress…

Repeat after me: Cover is ALWAYS an option. You can choose to go to a place with cover or you can choose to go to a place that’s free to enter. If there’s a place you really love and want to go to, see what kind of promos they offer. Is there free cover before 11? Do you know a promoter there? Is there an exit door in the back that they leave propped open that you can sneak in through? Evaluate your options before forking over your hard earned cash.

Walking is your best option

Get ready to work out those calf muscles because every weekend night becomes leg day when you refuse to pay for Ubers. Walking is great exercise, and if you’ve drank enough you can hardly feel the blisters throbbing on your ankles that are there because you chose style over comfort AGAIN even though you told yourself you’d never do that after last time. If you’re counting your steps and the bar is a mile and a half away, you’ll hit your target easily. Best of all, walking is FREE! Just avoid eye contact with anyone else on the street in the wee hours of the morning and they’ll most likely leave you alone. In the grand scheme of things, a little suffering is worth the sacrifice.

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Public transportation is bearable if you have no other choice

Sure the T may never show up on time, constantly smells like piss, and hasn’t been remodeled since the 90’s but it’s also $2.75 a trip. Public transportation is never anyone’s first or finest option but it’s available, it’s cheap, and it’s really all you have to work with – kind of like the McDonald’s you’ll end up getting at 2 a.m. after a night out.

Nobody saw nor cares what you’ve worn before. Just wear it again.

Literally nobody cares what you wore last weekend. Nobody is keeping a mental diary of your outfits and if they are that is very concerning and they should probably reevaluate their priorities in life. You can have as much fun in a burlap sack covered in holes as you can in the world’s hottest outfit. Plus a burlap sack seems pretty breathable and roomy enough for you to bust a move in.

Invest in some versatile outfits that you can wear often. I would highly recommend the color black – great for hiding stains when someone drops their drink on you, always in style.

These have been my hot tips for having a great night out without breaking the bank. What do you do to keep your partying costs down? Let me know!

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