You can’t put a price tag on friendship, but you can definitely put a price tag on your social life. While hanging out with friends is supposed to rejuvenate your social life, constantly asking your friends to cover for you or flaking because you don’t have cash can put a strain on your relationships. Summers should be about hot days, not heated arguments with your bank or bestie. Here are some affordable activities to try – and avoid – with your friends this summer:
1. Attend a Restaurant Week.
In the world of food-related trends and the social media platforms that make them go viral, it’s pretty easy to be lured to restaurants that may otherwise be out of your price range. Before breaking your budget, set a budget. Restaurant weeks are great because they set the budget for you. During restaurant week, normally pricey restaurants offer three-course meals for $15-25 during lunch hours. This could mean more food for a cheaper price than if you were to visit during normal weeks. You’ll be less susceptible to overspend and will save money instead. Restaurant weeks occur in many locations, from Los Angeles, California to Des Moine, Iowa. Check your local area for dates.
2. Go to a free concert.
Concerts are fantastic – the lights, the noise, the satisfaction of hearing your favorite songs directly from their creator. The prices, on the other hand, can be pretty disappointing. Nevertheless, summer is the prime season for free concerts in select cities and venues. Check out what artists may be performing at your local morning show or at small venues in your area. You could end up having the time of your life without blowing your life savings.
3. Attend a town fair/block party.
Nothing screams summer like a street fair. The Ferris wheel, the bouncy house, the games with stuffed animals that you can never seem to win – as much as you hate it, you love it. Street fairs and block parties are great ways for you and your friends to channel your inner infant – and get ridiculously competitive. Plus, cheap (if not free) games and food mean that you can indulge for hours and not feel guilty later.
4. Have a picnic.
Eating out doesn’t have to mean eating at a restaurant. Grab that bag of chips you’ve been devouring during your Netflix sessions, pack some fruit, make a killer sandwich, and you’ve got yourself a picnic lunch. Find a local park or lake, or even make use of your backyard if you have one. You and your friends will get the satisfaction of dining outdoors without the crowded, impersonal feeling of outdoor restaurant seating.
5. Have a movie night or go to an outdoor movie screening.
Everyone loves trips to the movie theater, but between popcorn, drinks, and the tickets, it’s pretty easy to find yourself overspending – especially if the movie turns out to be bad. Instead of blowing your cash on three hours of dark, silent entertainment, host a no-limits movie night at your place! Want to bring the entertainment outdoors? Look online for outdoor movie showings in your area. Select parks and even rooftop hotels host outdoor movie showings for little to no cost.
6. Visit an art gallery.
You don’t have to aspire to be the next Frida Kahlo to step foot in an art gallery. Unlike larger art museums, many small or pop-up art galleries have free admission and provide a peaceful, air-conditioned getaway full of culture and expression. One visit can easily turn into a new hobby.
7. Avoid shopping with friends (if you know you can’t handle it).
Hitting up the mall with friends is a pretty classic activity. Depending on where you live, it can even be your only option. Still, beware! You may find yourself spending money on things you would never glance at, let alone pick up, if you were alone. If you know you’re no window shopper, don’t put yourself in a compromising position. Keep trips to the mall at a minimum or limit your browsing to a specific section of the store where you’re less likely to find something you like. Believe me, your wallet will thank you later.
8. Don’t pile too many outings in one week.
It’s pretty tempting to schedule several outings over just a few days, whether it’s because you haven’t seen your friends in a long time or because you finally have the time to enjoy them. Still, this is bound to leave you broke before the end of the June. Spread your outings out and allow some clear days on your calendar. You’ll be saving and accumulating more money over the weeks and, most importantly, you’ll be scheduling time for yourself.
9. Go canoeing/kayaking/paddleboating.
Ever wondered why no one you know ever blew money on a canoe or paddle boat? It’s probably because many cities and towns offer canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boating sessions for little to no cost. Even a two-hour canoeing session in Central Park costs $27 (and will be even less when split among friends)! Can you imagine how much it might cost in your area? So, put on your best summer hat and enjoy the view – and make sure you don’t drop your phone in the water while taking Instagram pictures.
10. Ditch the road. Walk.
If you live in a pedestrian-friendly area, do your body and wallet a favor and walk to your destination. You can end up saving loads in gas money and public transportation fees. Plus, avoiding the summer traffic means you can actually be on time for once.
Having friends shouldn’t mean having unbearable expenses. These tips will guarantee a better summer and better friendships.