Friends eating pizza at a restaurant.

How to Keep a Social Life on a Budget

You can maintain your friendships without spending too much.

Friends eating pizza at a restaurant.

You can have plenty of fun on a budget.

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Most of us are in a constant battle between having fun and saving money. It’s important to get out and spend time with friends and family, but at the end of the day, we have a pile of bills waiting for us when we get home. Luckily for us, there are ways to balance a healthy social life with a healthy bank account. 

Here are some ways you can feel less guilty about spending money with loved ones:

Honor Your Budget 

Budget, budget, budget. This concept has probably been drilled in your brain for years, so one more time won’t hurt. The easiest way to keep your budget on track is to set a certain amount aside for fun every month. It’s easier than you think, and it will save you heartache and spending regret when bill paying day comes around.

Simply take your monthly income and subtract your bills, groceries and gas. Then cut the remainder in half. Half of that goes to a savings or emergency fund, while the rest is your fun budget for the month. Of course, this varies with family size. The more family members you have, the more you need to contribute to your savings.

Spend Less for What You Get

Going out for dinner and drinks is one of the easiest ways to reconnect with loved ones. It’s a great way to catch up with an old friend or celebrate a family event. But, we all know going out to eat can rack up a hefty bill. You don’t have to turn down dinner invitations to save money. There are ways to enjoy a night out without putting a dent in your monthly budget.

The Internet can save your life when it comes to spending less at restaurants. Sites like EatDrinkDeals.com make it easy to find current discounts at your favorite eateries. If you want to see your savings before you even show up to the restaurant, try a site like Restaurant.com, which lets you buy discounted gift cards for more than 18,000 restaurants nationwide. You can find gift cards worth $25 that are priced at $10. That means you can have a nice dinner and a drink for around the same price it would take to cook yourself a homemade meal.

If your group of friends has a favorite place to eat, drink and be merry, do not hesitate to join the rewards program and email list. As a member of their program, you’ll know about promotions before the general public, and you’ll probably even be offered exclusive rewards just for being a member.

Save Locally

Don’t ever go out on the town without checking a site like Groupon. If you can get a discount by taking a few minutes to get online and click a few buttons, why wouldn’t you?

Deal-aggregating sites are great for days you want to try something new. You can find discounts on everything from dining to spa services to entertainment. Sign up for the email list and limit the results to deals in your city to get daily or weekly emails about what’s currently discounted. It’s quick, easy and a real money-saver for dates.

Try a Potluck Party

Who says you have to leave the house to have a good time? Potluck parties are a great way to reconnect with a big group of people on a limited budget. The way it works is everyone brings a family-sized dish of their choice, including the hostess. When the guests show up, you have a full feast ready to eat, and all you had to do was cook one dish and coordinate with the guests. Just make sure there are a suitable amount of protein, side and dessert dishes.

If you want to spice it up a bit, implement a theme and ask a few guests to bring adult beverages instead of a dish. You’d be surprised at how much fun you can have in spite of limited effort or money.

Take Advantage of Free Events

Most cities have free events every day of the week. Whether it’s live music, a store opening or a free trial, you can find something free to do most of the time. Free events aren't only easy your wallet, they also introduce you to new experiences you may have never tried otherwise.

Don’t be scared to get out in your city and try something you’ve never done before. To find free events, check your city’s event calendar or browse websites that are devoted to posting and publicizing all that is free and fun in your city.

Go forth and have fun, friends.

Offers.com has an affiliate relationship with Restaurant.com. Any purchase on this site using Offers.com deals and coupons may result in a commission for Offers.com. The opinions and recommendations expressed here are those of the author alone.