Lower Your Expenses

How to Have Fun at the Bar Without Blowing Your Budget

Updated on March 27, 2020 Updated on March 27, 2020
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Boozing on a Budget
Table of Contents  
  1. Show Notes

If there are two things we love at Listen, Money Matters, they are saving money and having a few drinks. Let us teach you how to best combine these two loves into a great night out.

We owe thanks to our friends  Thomas Frank from College Info Geek Kristen Wong from Brokepedia for their great articles teaching us how to have fun at the bar without blowing our budgets.

These are Thomas’s tips.

1.  Know your number before leaving home.  Once you start drinking, your inhibitions will be lowered.  That might mean a regrettable decision to bring home a double bagger or spending your rent money on rounds for the whole bar.  Before you leave home, decide how much you will spend that night.  Even better, take out that amount of cash and leave your credit and debit cards at home.

2.  Pay attention to drink specials.  Find happy hours in your area or drink at a local brewery.  Sometimes the special will be on drinks, sometimes you’ll get snacks with your drinks.  Since drinking makes us hungry, this can be a savings.

3.  Pregame.  This means having a few drinks before going out for the evening.  This tip can help if you suffer from social anxiety too.

4.  Tip your bartender well.  If you’re generous to your bartender, they may hook you up with free drinks or more generous pours.

5.  Planned logistics.  This is important if you’re doing a pub crawl.  Plot the bars out so you aren’t spending money criss crossing town.

Now Kristen weighs in.

1.  Use sites and apps.  Save on Brew searches the best beer deals in your area.  Find my Tap will help track down which bars serve your favorite beer.

2.  Second label wines are a cheaper but still quality version of more expensive ones.  There is a site, cunningly called Second Label Wine to help find a cheaper version of your preferred vin.

3.  Drink Owl will show you a list of great drinks specials in your area.

4.  Buy in bulk.  Buying a case of wine will usually net you a 20% discount.  My local wine store does a 30% a few times a year so look out for those specials.

5.  Look at unit price.  This is a nasty trick deployed in a lot of sports stadiums.  A bigger beer may be double the price of a small but it’s not double the ounces.  Do your math!

6.  Drink shit beer.  LMM’s cannot promote this tip.  Yes it’s cheaper and cheaper doesn’t always mean worse, but in the matter of beer, it does.  Please don’t so this to yourself.

Finally, beware of adulterated beer.  Beer is not made with cheap subsidy crops like corn.  Watch Beer Wars to make sure you are getting the real deal.

We love our listeners so have a good time, go out, but don’t do anything stupid.  Drinking is not a hobby nor a vocation.  Drink responsibly!

Show Notes

College Info Geek:  Thomas Frank’s excellent site to help you upgrade your college experience.

Brokepedia:  Our friend Kristen’s money saving site.

Ommegang Abbey Ale: A rich, fruity ale, great for summer.


Candice Elliott - Senior Editor
Candice Elliott is a substantial contributor to Listen Money Matters. She has been a personal finance writer since 2013 and has written extensively on student loan debt, investing, and credit. She has successfully navigated these areas in her own life and knows how to help others do the same. Candice has answered thousands of questions from the LMM community and spent countless hours doing research for hundreds of personal finance articles. She happily calls New Orleans, Louisiana home-the most fun city in the world.

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