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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. However, it can be difficult to resist the peer pressure that comes with having a busy social life. You might wonder how you could spend less money on nights out, transport and other costs related to socialising.

When trying to pay off debt or stick to a budget, socialising might be one of the first spending areas that you try to cut down on. However, special events such as Christmas parties or weddings can create more pressure to spend money.

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How can I talk to my friends about my money situation?

If you’re struggling financially, your friends will usually understand if you explain to them that it’s important for you to cut back on your spending. Make sure you reassure them that you want to spend time with them, especially if you can find fun and inexpensive things to do together. 

Even if you’re feeling awkward about it, talking about your money worries is important. More often than not, it gives can give you a sense of relief afterwards, as you’re no longer alone in dealing with your worries. Having a chat will make it much easier if you need to make less expensive decisions

Looking for more ways to save money on your bills?

On our blog, you can find lots of money-saving ideas to help keep your monthly bills under control, such as: 


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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 that it’s hard work to achieve a goal like this.

Keep money for a night out seperate

To reduce the risk of overspending during a night out, consider opening a basic bank account and move your ‘socialising’ money into this account. This’ll help you keep a closer eye on how much you spend.

Another way to avoid overspending is to take cash rather than a debit card.

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 occasionally send you vouchers for free drinks or cheap meal deals. Try downloading their app, 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.

You might be really hungry when you get home from your night out, so have something ready to eat ahead of time. For example, you could cook a pizza in the oven while you’re getting ready to go out, and then put it in the fridge to warm up later.

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. If you feel guilty about not getting a round of drinks in, you could agree to buy your friend a drink if they’re willing to buy you a drink in return.

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.

Have water or a soft drink in-between alcoholic drinks

One way to save money on drinks is to have a soft drink between alcoholic beverages. Pubs and bars are also required to give you a free glass of tap water if you ask for one.

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. For example, you can combine your favourite dress with different tights, heels or boots, or various 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 (sometimes up to nine passengers). 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. 

Have an 'exit strategy' 

If you’re going out with a big group of people, try turning up a bit later than everyone else. Also, you’ll should spend less on drinks and you might avoid getting looped 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. 

Suggest ‘alcohol-free’ meet-ups 

If you have a busy life it can be difficult to schedule a meetup with friends. However, it can be worthwhile to plan some social events. 

For example, you can: 

  • 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 

What to do if nights out are damaging more than your finances 

Nights out are meant to be fun and relaxing, and a boost for your wellbeing. If drinking is affecting aspects your relationships, career, finances or health, talk with someone about it. 

Talk to your doctor in confidence and see if they can put you in touch with a local support group. You can also chat to a DrinkAware advisor anonymously.