A night out on the town with your partner or your friends always sounds like a great idea... until you see the number on your bar tab. Drinks and food at bars and clubs are expensive, especially in big cities like New York, so if you don't keep track of your spending, you can lose a lot of money in just a few hours. A night of barhopping and partying doesn't have to hurt your wallet so much, though, if you follow some simple spending rules.
Leave your credit card behind
A sure-fire way to make sure you don't spend more than you can afford: Go cash-only for the night, and leave your ATM and credit cards at home. This way, you have to really think about it—and see your balance drop—every time you want to buy a drink or a snack. You can't just start a tab and lose track of how much you're really spending.
Pre-make a post-party snack
How many times have you come home from a long night of dancing or bar-hopping only to feel ravenously hungry as soon as you walk in the door? Rather than ordering late-night takeout, try preparing food ahead of time—it should be something filling that either doesn't require heating or can be popped in the microwave quickly, and something you'll want to eat when the post-party munchies strike.
Seek out late-night happy hours
Happy hour doesn't have to be from 4-7. A lot of bars and restaurants offer extended happy hours or late night happy hours that start after 10pm, and many places have drink deals and food discounts on different nights, depending on when you go. Seek out those places with way-worth-it discounts, and take advantage of those venues instead of your usual wallet-draining spots.
Go somewhere easy to get to
Another money-sucker on your night out is transportation back home, especially if you plan to drink. Rather than go somewhere that's difficult to get back from (when you'll be tempted to spend some money to hail a cab or request an Uber) make sure it's somewhere that's easy to get to and from via public transportation or, if you're lucky, within walking distance.
Drink at home before you go
No, this isn't just a trick for broke college students, and it's not about drinking as much as you can before you go out, which can get dangerous and sloppy. If you're going out for the night and having some drinks to catch a feel-good buzz, drinking your own wine or liquor is much more cost effective than drinks at the bar, so have a glass or two while you're getting ready to leave, and you'll spend less at the bar later.
How do you save money when you're going out?