You just turned 21 and you have never had a sip of alcohol before. Let me help you out. No, I won’t buy you drinks (sorry, not sorry), but I'm here to warn you of the bar tab shock at the end of the night.
Before you get too crazy and rack up a huge tab, let me teach you a few tricks for how to save money at bars and have a fun, frugal night out on the town:
- Pregame the smart way.
- Follow your local bars on social media.
- Only bring cash with you.
1. The Pregame
Let’s start from the very beginning of the night. Before you even get in the shower or put your makeup on, you want to make sure to text your friends about the pregame plans at your apartment. Consider splitting a case of beer or a bottle of your favorite $6 wine with them.
After all, sharing is caring — and less money coming out of your not-so-deep pockets!
If you're going to buy something to pregame the bars with, shop at Walmart, Target, or Publix. These places tend to be the cheapest, although not all of them sell alcohol, depending on what state you live in. Make sure to do a price comparison on your alcohol and look for deals, just like you would for a cute purse or a new football jersey.
Getting a good buzz before you whiz off to the bars will fill you up and help you to buy fewer drinks once you get there. The best way to save money at bars is to not drink (as much) while you're there.
2. Social Media
Now this tip might not be applicable to all bars, but if you’re in a college town where your local spots have Instagram or Twitter accounts, this might be your secret ticket to cheaper drinks.
My college town’s bars share their daily drink specials all over social media. This is helpful because I can compare the bars' different specials and choose which one I think is the best deal for the night.
3. Cash Only
I saved this one for last because it is the most important tip I have for how to save money at bars:
If you’re up for the challenge, only bring cash with you to the bar. Depending on how much prices normally are in your college town, try only bringing $20 with you. This is one of the top ways to save money at bars. Carrying around a small amount should give you enough money for a cover charge, a few drinks, and a tip.
Once you run out of cash, you won’t have your credit card on you to charge more drinks that you probably don’t need, anyway.
If you do bring your credit card to pay your open bar tab, make sure to get it back at the end of the night. Some bars charge fees for not paying your bar tab and forgetting your card overnight.
So there you have it: my top tips for how to save money at bars. Cheers to being 21 — enjoy it while you can!
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