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16 simple ways to save money on a night out

Feel like nights out are draining your bank account? These tips will help you to live it up without the feeling of dread when you check your bank account the next day.

man with beer and pound signs

Credit: Roman Samborskyi, Blan-k – Shutterstock

Our research has shown that students spend on average £69 a month on going out. When you add up the cost of alcohol, club entry, taxis and 3am chicken nuggets, nights out can make a serious dent in your bank account if you're not careful (and who is after a couple of Jägerbombs!?).

We've knocked our heads together over a whiskey or three to share our all-time top tips on saving money while partying at uni.

This guide is about saving money – please drink responsibly! And always keep a close eye on your drink to protect it from being spiked.

Top tips for cutting the cost of a night out

These are the best ways to save money on nights out:

  1. Organise pre-drinks

    If you're going to go out drinking, it makes sense to start your night at home with pre-drinks. This way, you (hopefully) won't need to buy as many drinks while you're out, which often cost five or even six times as much.

    It's much cheaper to buy supermarket own-brand products. You won't even notice the difference between these and well-known brands (apart from the price).

    A 700ml bottle of Smirnoff will set you back around £17, but an equivalent bottle of Tesco's own-brand vodka will only cost you around £12! No-brainer, especially if you're mixing it with something else anyway.

  2. Stock up on carbs in advance

    Hands up if you're guilty of the drunken munchies? Buying that kebab after a night out might seem like a good idea at the time, but your bank account won't thank you for it (and neither will your stomach the morning after).

    Before going out, make sure you eat a proper meal. Ideally, make it a meal packed with carbs. That way, you won't feel like you need an expensive takeaway later. It's always a bad idea to drink on an empty stomach anyway, so eat up!

  3. Have food ready for your return

    chips fries

    Credit: Mironov Vladimir – Shutterstock

    Can't face a night out without a carb-filled treat at the end? Prepare some snacks for when you get home instead.

    No one wants to be that guy setting off the fire alarm making pizza at 3am, so have your food pre-cooked and ready to eat (cold pizza comes highly recommended here).

    It's also worth getting supplies in advance for the next day's hangover cures.

  4. Hit the club early

    We know we mentioned pre-drinking earlier, but bear with us on this one.

    Sometimes, getting to your destination early can have all sorts of wondrous benefits. For example, you escape extortionate entry fees and dodge queues in the freezing cold.

    Entry prices tend to go up at around 11pm and many clubs offer free or reduced entry before that time.

    Don't want to turn up early? Well, this next tip is for you...

  5. Act like a celeb

    If you don't fancy getting there early, try and get yourself on the guest list.

    Have a look at the Facebook page or Instagram account of the club organisers. You can send them a DM explaining how much you love their nights, and that you're hoping to bring a group of friends down. A busier dance floor is always beneficial for clubs!

    More often than not, they'll sort you out. Whatever you do, plan in advance, as it often works out cheaper to buy a ticket online compared to paying at the door.

  6. Set a party budget

    As boring as it may sound, budgeting does help on a night out. It's a good idea to set a limit on how much you're going to spend and stick to it.

    A prepaid card can help you with this. Top it up with your spending money, and the app will remind you how much you've spent so far or whether it's time to go home.

  7. Avoid buying rounds

    glasses of beer

    However much you want to be the good guy, don't get pulled into buying full rounds of drinks – especially if you're out in a large group. You can't afford to party like you're in Made in Chelsea. If you can, why are you reading this guide?

    Treating your mates to a round might seem like a nice thing to do, but it rarely works out fairly. It often forces you into buying booze when you don't even want any more to drink.

    If you do get roped into buying rounds, why not use this opportunity to save cash (and give your liver a break) by getting yourself a soft drink this time round? Whatever it is, ask for a slice of lime in it and no one will even know the difference!

    Want more money-saving tips for nights out? Tune into episode six of our podcast for night-out hacks, cocktail recipes, drinking games and pasty-related drama.
  8. Ditch the credit cards

    Ever looked at your bank balance the morning after and had the shock of your life? Taking your debit or credit card out with you is never a good idea as it's so easy to lose track of how much you've spent. As mentioned above, this is where prepaid cards come in handy.

    Do yourself a favour and leave the credit cards at home – we promise they won't get lonely.

  9. Use free ATMs

    Taking out cash for the evening can also be a way of keeping track of your spending.

    However, whatever you do, don't use club ATMs. These machines often charge you several pounds just to withdraw your own money.

    Make sure you think ahead and take cash out at a free ATM before you start your night. And if you're not sure where to find one, check out this handy ATM locator tool.

  10. Party on off-peak nights

    Fridays aren't the only times you can go on a night out...

    The beauty of student nightlife is that the best parties usually happen mid-week. On top of that, everything tends to be cheaper on weeknights compared to weekends.

    There are usually a fair few drink promos going on during off-peak party nights too – bonus!

  11. Split taxi fares (or avoid taxis altogether)

    Taxis are often the safest option, but unfortunately, they're not the cheapest.

    If you're able to get a bus that goes quite near to your door, this could be worth getting. It will probably take longer than a taxi, but it'll be a fraction of the price.

    Or, any time you do take a taxi, share the cost with your mates if you're able to travel together.

    Uber has a fare split function so you don't even need to do the maths. Whatever you do, don't accept 'I'll buy you a drink' in return for covering the taxi. It's always a bad deal. If there's a large group of you, splitting a taxi can even work out cheaper than catching the bus.

    Also, if you're travelling in a group, think about whether the distance is actually walkable. It might be cheaper to take your coats and check them into the cloakroom rather than get a taxi there.

    If you're travelling alone and you're put off by the cost of a solo taxi, you could get an UberPool. Alternatively, you can look for an Uber promo code or a discount code from another company such as FREE NOW or Bolt.

  12. Look out for offers

    girl putting money in purse

    Credit: Pixel-Shot - Shutterstock

    It may look a bit excessive, but a cocktail pitcher will often work out cheaper than individual drinks. At Wetherspoons, for example, prices vary, but a pitcher is usually around £7. When shared between four people, this would work out as less than £2 each.

    It's also pretty common for bars to offer two-for-one cocktail deals during happy hours so keep an eye out for these.

    Plus, rather than buying bottled beer, get the beer on tap – it's so much cheaper.

    Don't forget to make use of your student card when you can. Some student-focused bars will offer special deals for students so look out for these and ask staff behind the bar.

    Make sure to check whether your regular haunts offer membership or loyalty cards so you can save up points and save on drinks.

    Loads of bars also do drinks promotions, so it's worth checking for these in the drinks section of our student deals page.

  13. Alternate drinks with water

    For every alcoholic drink you have, get a glass of tap water too. It'll give your liver a break and there's less chance you'll wake up with a cracking headache.

    Ultimately, water will quench your thirst and fill you up quicker, meaning less room for alcohol.

    And let's not forget the best part – tap water is free.

    Remember: don't feel like you need to drink alcohol if you don't want to. Non-alcoholic drinks are often cheaper than the alcoholic alternatives and still taste great.
  14. Make friends with bar staff

    One of the reasons you came to university was to make friends, so why not use those skills to make friends with people who really matter?

    By this, we mean people who work at your venue of choice. Managers, bar staff, bouncers... they can all bag you a freebie or two if you're nice enough.

  15. Have a house party

    Can't afford to go out? No problem! Instead, you can throw a house party and ask everyone to bring their own booze.

    Not only do you get to curate your own party playlist, but you'll also be cutting out the cost of taxi fares, club entry and expensive drinks.

    Just make sure to give your neighbours a heads-up first and tone it down a bit when it gets late. The last thing you want is a visit from your landlord or the police.

  16. Stay at home

    If you don't have the dollar, just don't go out – simple as that! The point is to have fun with your friends, and you don't need to go clubbing to do that.

    Why not have a movie night instead? Grab some popcorn, snuggle under the duvet with your housemates and do some good old-fashioned sober bonding.

Now you've got this bit covered, here's how you can get prepped for the hangover too. You'll thank us later.

Jake Butler

WRITTEN BY Jake Butler

Jake joined Save the Student in 2010 and is the COO. As an expert across student finance, Jake has appeared on The BBC, The Guardian, Which?, ITV, Channel 5 and many other outlets. He particularly enjoys sharing tips on saving money and making extra money with opportunities like paid surveys and part-time jobs.
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