If a big weekend has ever left you penniless until payday, these pointers could be for you.

How much cash did I spend last night? How many rounds did I buy? Why did I pay for so-and-so’s Uber when I know they’re never going to pay me back?

If this sounds like a familiar scenario, come the morning after a big night out, it could have something to do with your friends and family trying to squeeze in every social event they missed during last year’s lockdown.

On the other hand, it could also have a lot to do with you, particularly if you’re not paying attention to where your money’s actually going. 

Where does the money go?

Preparations before you even leave the house

You mightn’t give much thought to this one, as money that goes towards preparing for an event may be spent long before the event itself. Think haircuts, beauty appointments, things you buy for the host, presents you purchase for the birthday boy or girl, not to mention new outfits you may pick up along the way.

Yeah – when you think about it - preparations could sometimes fund a whole night out by themselves! So, with that in mind, figure out what you’re spending on these things and where you could be cutting back, noting not all events will warrant the same fanfare.

Debit cards, credit cards, buy-now-pay-later services

You tap it, don’t see it, lose track of it, and if it’s on credit (or a buy now pay later service), you may fork out more on top through fees and interest charges. It’s one of the most obvious ones, but taking only the cash you want to spend could be a game changer when it comes to sticking to what you can afford.

Meanwhile, if you’re worried about the potential of a financial emergency arising (which doesn’t include a Maccas run on the way home when you’ve just been out for dinner), take a card that gives you access to a limited rather than a large amount of cash.

The always-broke mate that’s constantly relying on you

There’s always one in the group - they forgot their wallet, they brought just enough for themselves (and when that runs out, they’ll turn to you), they’ll pay you back next week (promise!).

No doubt this mate has their redeeming qualities, but if you can’t or are struggling to cover your own bills and day-to-day expenses because they’re always putting their hand out, it might be time to say, no. If that’s difficult to verbalise, carrying only enough cash for yourself may help. 

Group dinners with the fancy mob

A group of you go for dinner and you’re thinking you might just get an entrée, but before you even look at the menu, your buddy who likens himself to an Al Pacino character (polar opposites to your always broke mate) orders the banquet for the entire table which comes with a hefty per-head cost.

In times like this, it may be worth saying upfront exactly what you can spend and if you don’t feel comfortable doing that and know you can’t afford what’s on the agenda, maybe catch up with this group later in the evening, noting a taste for expensive things may continue long into the night.

Another idea might be to catch up with this lot another time at the beach or someone’s house and everyone bring their own food and drinks. If they want champagne and smoked salmon appetizers – cool. If you’d prefer cocktail franks and passion pop – well, who said opposites don’t attract - you’ll still have saved some money.

Drinks for everyone, just because

If you’re that person who gets carried away at some point and always buys the whole group a round of drinks, this is a sure way to lose track and spend money fast, which is why it might be easier if everyone sticks to buying their own drinks. Just give your always-broke mate the heads up.

Some other ways you could cut back on the drinks bill is to host something at your place, go somewhere that has BYO, or look up venues with happy hours or food and beverage deals.

Pricey venues that charge before you walk through the door

Have you ever waited half an hour in a line to then pay $30 to get into a place, even though you’ll have to wrestle, sidestep, and wait another half an hour to get a drink at the bar?

These venues can be fun if the bouncers approve of everyone’s hair, clothing, shoes and associates, but if your main priority is just to catch up with mates, a laid-back venue without the entry fee and jacked-up bar prices may be the way to go.

Even if you consider what you and your mates would pay at the cinema, making your own snacks and doing a movie night at your place might be cheaper than what you’ll fork out for the smartie on top of your choc top.

The kebab, Maccas run or servo sausage roll on the way home

Admittedly, this can be one of the hardest things to avoid on a night out, with this common ritual an easy way to drop another $10, $20, $30 or more before you head home.

One possible way to cut back on midnight-snack spending is to stock up on some cheaper munchies that you know will be waiting for you when you get home. It might be leftover pasta (you made extra the night before), cheese on toast, choccies, or a piece of fruit (haha, said no one ever).

That one last detour because the night’s still young

Often the excitement of going out and catching up with friends can get the adrenalin pumping. So, when it’s time to call it a night, you start to think, that place on the corner is still open, or even better – let’s grab a few things from the local and kick on back at so-and-so’s place (the night is still young).

This is often the time you’ll look back on in the morning and say – I should have left then. Again, this is why tip two could really help keep you in check, because when the cash is gone, it’s gone.

Your umpteenth Uber and taxi fare for the month

The later the night gets, the more likely you may be to schedule a driver, so while you’re still in alright form, consider catching a bus, train or ferry.

 If you know someone who lives near to where you’re going, you might also be able to drive to theirs and stay the night. Or, if you have a couple of mates who are reliable designated drivers, they might be willing to help you out. Just don’t scab lifts like your always-broke-mate scabs cash without offering something in return.

Meanwhile, hopefully the points above have given you a few ideas so that your cash situation at the end of your next big weekend is better than the one before.

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