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i The advice on this page applies to anyone with personal debts taken out in the UK.

Saving money and increasing income

Can I still have nights out while I'm in debt? 

Spending time with friends and loved ones is important for your wellbeing. But it can be difficult to resist the peer pressure that comes with having a busy social life, but there are options that won’t leave you out of pocket.

When you’re trying to stick to a budget as you deal with debt or stick to a budget, socialising is usually one of the first spending areas that you try to cut down on. The good news is you can still have a social life whilst managing debts or limited income.

We've got tips and advice on how to spend less money on nights out, transport and other costs.

Be honest with your friends about your finances

If you’re struggling financially, explain why it’s important for you to cut back on your spending, your friends should understand and support you. Reassure them that you still do want to spend time with them, you’re not making excuses, and suggest fun and inexpensive things to do together.

Even if you’re feeling awkward about it, talking about your money worries is important. Sharing your money worries can give you a sense of relief as you’re no longer alone in dealing with them. Having a chat will make it much easier if you need to make less expensive decisions.

Tips for managing your budget and a social life

Keep money for a night out separate

To reduce the risk of overspending during a night out, you could:

  • Leave your debit or credit card at home and only take cash
  • Open a basic bank account which is only used for socialising
  • Get a prepaid debit card and load a set amount of money to it before your night out

Look out for pub deals or discounts

Do you know what bars or pubs you’ll be going to? Check out their websites and see if they’re offering deals on drinks. If you sign up to a pub’s mailing list, they might send you vouchers for free drinks or cheap meal deals. You can even get deals through their apps, if they have one.

Eat a good meal before you go out

Lining your stomach with a solid meal should reduce the chance of you getting tipsy too quickly. You’ll also be less likely to splurge on greasy takeaway food later in the evening.

Don’t get in a round of drinks

Buying rounds of drinks can quickly become expensive. If someone offers to get you a drink, politely decline. That way, you won’t get looped into buying everyone a drink next time you head to the bar.

Have party outfits you can mix and match

Nights out often become costly if there’s pressure to wear a new outfit each time. Aim to have items of party clothing that you can wear in different combinations. Why not combine your favourite shirt or dress with different accessories.

Charity shops can help you save money on clothes all year round. They’re also great for finding one-of-a-kind partywear.

Look for cheap ways to travel

If possible, consider using public transport for your night out or other social events.

Some train operators offer ticket deals for groups of people. Many city bus operators have a night bus service that should be cheaper than getting a cab.

If you do need to get a cab, try to split the fare with a friend. Some cab firms offer discount codes, so check their websites or apps before you book. Sign up to their emails as well.

Don’t take extra risks to save money by walking home alone.

Have an exit strategy

If you’re going out with a big group of people, try turning up a bit later than everyone else. You’ll spend less on drinks and you might avoid getting roped into buying rounds of drinks.

Leaving early is also a good idea, especially before the buses or trains stop or wind down for the night.

If you need to get a taxi home, try leaving before closing time. This is when a lot of people will be trying to get home, and you may see an increase in cab fares.

Focus on your long-term goals

You can reduce the time it’ll take to pay off your debt by cutting down on less important expenses.

Knowing that you have a goal of paying off debt may make it more likely that your friends will support your thriftiness. They’ll understand it’s hard work to achieve a goal like this.

Find an accountability buddy

Will there be a big group of friends at your night out? Do you feel comfortable telling one of them that you’re trying to stick to a budget? Chances are someone in your friendship group is trying to save money too. Tell them that you’re keeping an eye on your spending. 

Money saving meet-ups

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to spend quality time with friends and family. And sometimes a quiet day out or night in can be a better option when everyone has a lot going on. 

Invite your friends over for lunch and a catch up

Make it special by serving nice coffee or sandwiches, putting on some relaxing music or playing a board game while you eat. 

Go for a walk around your local park

Got kids or a pet? Take them too (and a frisbee or ball so everyone gets some exercise). 

Book a regular movie night

At each event, someone picks one of their favourite films for the group to watch at home and talk about later. Don’t forget the popcorn! 

Arrange to meet your friend before doing the big food shop.

Many supermarkets have cafes where you can have a good chat before going shopping. 

Go to fun and free events in your local area.

Your council website is likely to have a page on nearby events. 

Check out local community websites and social media groups.

They’ll often post announcements for when you can meet up with other people based on hobbies and common interests. Many of the activities are free, and it’s a great way to meet people who live close by. 

Having trouble reducing your spending? Get free debt advice

If you’re struggling to pay your debts, use our online debt advice tool. It will give you a personal budget to help you manage your money, along with advice specifically tailored to your situation.

Or, if you’d prefer to talk to someone, visit our contact us page to find out how to speak to one of our Helpline advisors.