Going Out is Expensive: The True Cost of Nights Out Plus Tips to Spend Less!

Going out is expensive! How do people afford bars, clubs, and restaurants multiple times per week? 

Buying just a few drinks used to put me over budget on a single night out; it’s hard to understand how folks can go out every week without branking the bank. 

That all got me thinking – how expensive is going out for an average person? And what steps can you take to reduce the cost and save money on a night out?

Why is Going Out So Expensive?

There are many reasons why going out is expensive. 

First and foremost, the establishments need to make money and have hundreds of business costs. Restaurants and bars must pay for labor, supplies, and overhead, including rent and utilities. Your final bill includes all of these costs. 

You may have noticed that bars and restaurants are getting more expensive. Inflation is a crucial driver of price increases. The overall inflation rate is 9%, but the rate for food away from home is slightly lower, at 7%. The slight difference in increase offers little to celebrate for consumers, who see price increases across the board. 

How Much Does the Average Person Spend on a Night Out?

According to an Event Bright from 2019, the average person spends about eighty bucks on a single night out. That’s $160 a week in nights out, or $640 a month, before the rampant inflation of 2022. 

If we apply just 2022’s inflation, we can estimate that Americans spend approximately $684 per month going out each month – though it’s likely more. 

That’s more than the average car payment and a little less than half the average rent, based on the average cost of living in the US for 2022. 

How Much Does a Night Out Drinking Cost?

The Event Bright study exclusively looked at nightlife events, such as nightclubs and music events. If you want to go to neighborhood bars, you can save a little money, but according to Vice, it won’t be much. They concluded that a night out costs $74 on average, slightly lower than the Event Bright study. 

I’ve been to local dive bars that serve two-dollar drafts, but that’s the exception. Most beers cost between five and seven bucks, and mixed drinks are usually more. A couple enjoying a date night can spend thirty dollars on just a few drinks.

Of course, these costs are highly dependent on where you are. A night on the town in a big city like Los Angeles or Chicago will cost far more than a night out in a small town in Pennsylvania. 

Average Cover Charge

Although bars don’t generally charge cover, if you want to enjoy clubbing or live music, you will likely have to pay just to get in the door. 

The cover charge varies widely by city, type of club, and even gender. Some clubs charge men to enter while letting women in for free, while others offer discounts for the ladies. Swanky nightclubs are more expensive than dives, and some bars only charge if there is live music. 

Home to Go conducted a study in 2018 listing the average cost of cover charges for fifty of the top nightlife cities in the world. Although dated due to inflation and not covering every location, it’s a great place to start for an idea of average cover charges. 

Why Do People Go Clubbing?

All this talk about how expensive a night out is makes me wonder why people go clubbing. I find it hot, loud, and expensive. But who am I to tell other people what they can and can’t enjoy?

Everyone likes different things and different environments. I’ve never been into dancing or loud things, 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.

How to Save Money on Clubbing

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 ages ago (I think I was barely 21!), the Orlando nightclubs had “Ladies Night,” allowing women free entry. Some of the clubs even gave us free drinks! We took advantage of that to make our night out affordable.  

Obviously, that won’t work for everyone, but some clubs offer memberships, discount nights, special drink nights, cover-free nights, and other options to help patrons save money. Check your favorite club to see what goodies they offer loyal customers!

How Can I go out with No Money?

Sometimes, we just want to go out for the environment. We want to hang out with our friends and have a good time. The insane expense of going out can put a damper on that, but there are ways to go out with no money.

When I lived in Los Angeles, my colleagues always had happy hours. It was an excellent opportunity to get together and have fun outside the stuffy work environment. I loved going, but I didn’t want to spend money.

Fortunately, all my friends are fantastic, and nobody judged me for going and just ordering a glass of water (people who would judge probably wouldn’t make good friends). I enjoyed 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 host game nights, and pot lucks at home as a way to hang out with friends without destroying your budget. Once my friends started buying houses, we couldn’t afford to go out anymore. But we always invited each other over for dinners and karaoke nights. The company was more important than what we were doing.

Eating Out is Expensive

Going out doesn’t just mean going out drinking. Most of my going out revolves around going out to eat. 

Sometimes you just want a delicious meal 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 are killer. But going out is expensive, and eating out will cost you.

How Much Does the Average Person Spend on Eating Out?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spends $329 monthly eating out. That’s almost $4000 a year. And remember, the average includes families of one, so if you are in a partnership, you might be paying twice that amount.

It’s difficult to ascertain how much it costs to eat out on average due to the enormous 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 get an entire meal for about five bucks, and now, unless you stick to the dollar menu, it’s closer to ten. 

It cost my boyfriend and me nearly thirty bucks for one meal at Five Guys, which I consider a fast food restaurant.  Full-service casual fine dining restaurants are even more expensive. 

It costs over ten dollars for most meals, and when you add in drinks, tips, and taxes, you will generally be paying around thirty dollars on a single meal. You will spend even more if you order a drink from the bar.

Is Going Out to Eat a Waste of Money?

Many people review this data and conclude that eating out is a waste of money. Some financial gurus even have the gall to say things like:

If you’re working on paying off debt, the only time you should see the inside of a restaurant is if you’re working there.” -DR

I don’t believe this so-called advice. It shames people for enjoying small pleasures

Eating out is expensive, but sometimes it’s worth paying extra to enjoy a different type of food or to give yourself a break from cooking and cleaning. 

Of course, the caveat is that you must budget for it, and if you’re struggling to pay your bills, you may want to limit your spending on eating out. 

How Much Money do You Save by Not Eating Out?

The truth is that eating at home is cheaper than eating out. If saving money is your top priority, you can save a lot by cooking at home. 

Although everyone’s spending is different, if you fall in line with the average American, you can save approximately $4000 per year if you never eat out. 

But I know that isn’t realistic. During my no-spend year, I tried to limit myself to only two nights per month, and I failed at even that multiple times. Sometimes you just need to go out.

The challenge did help me cut down on eating out. I managed to limit myself to eating out twice a month a few of those months, and that’s much better than the twice-per-week average. I also only went out 4 or 5 times per month during my most significant fail months, which is slightly better than average. 

How to Save Money on Eating Out

Eating out doesn’t have to be a budget buster. A few tips and tricks can help you enjoy a dinner out without breaking the bank. 

First, don’t order alcohol. Restaurants are notorious for charging inflated prices on bar drinks. It’s a top money maker for them. Opt for water with your meal instead and buy a six-pack at the grocery store for after dinner. Not only will this save you money, but it’s also the safer option, as you don’t have to worry about your blood alcohol levels while driving home. 

Other money-saving tips at the restaurant include either avoiding an appetizer or ordering one as your main course. Appetizers are generally cheaper than main courses and usually just as filling. However, if you’re going to eat a main course, you don’t need both. 

You could also opt to order an app, share the main course with a friend or partner, or take the leftovers home for lunch. 

A final, albeit unhealthy, way to save on eating out is to order from the dollar menu at your favorite fast food place. Sometimes you are out and hungry and have to eat something, or you just don’t have the time for cooking and cleaning. It’s okay to opt for convenience every once in a while. 

The best option, though, is to try to eat at home more often.

Easy Eat at Home Options

We spend so much freaking money on eating out because it’s so easy. You don’t have to worry about food prep or cleaning when you go out to eat 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 helped me eat at home more is 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!

The only limitation with Ultimate Bundles is that they’re only available for a limited window each year. Head to their home page and subscribe so you don’t miss their latest offerings!

If you don’t want to pay for a meal plan, you can always try to find fabulous recipes online. There are tons of them, but it’s hard to sort through them to find what you want. Making a weekly meal plan off online recipes sounds awful to me, but it might be worthwhile for you!

Going Out is Expensive

Going out is expensive, but there are ways to make it more affordable. Although we shouldn’t spend all of our money going out, it’s okay to budget a little bit each month to enjoy yourself. 

It’s important to consider how much money you spend going out each month and ensure it aligns with both your financial goals and responsibilities. However, if you’re doing that, there’s nothing wrong with budgeting yourself some fun money to enjoy your life. 

source https://partnersinfire.com/lifestyle/going-out-is-expensive/

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