In one of the creepiest scenes in the very scary movie The Shining, the wife of Jack Nicholson’s character discovers that, rather then working in his novel, Jack had repeatedly written, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” We’d all go a little cuckoo if we don’t get a chance to blow off some steam. But you can also blow your student budget if you don’t party in moderation. Here are some tips for partying on a budget.
Big Bucks Are Spent On Booze
Have you ever stopped to think how much you spend on alcohol? While we Canadians are proud of our beer-brewing heritage, collectively we enjoy imbibing from the entire liquor cabinet. In fact, a study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found that Canadians drink 50 per cent more alcohol than the global average. Ontario’s LCBO sales records can attest to that. In 2012 the provincial agency peddled nearly $5 billion in alcohol sales, the 18th year in a row that sales figures had increased. (And this doesn’t include sales from the brewery-owned Beer Store.)
You may be surprised to learn how big your personal share of that total is. But there are a number of ways to still have a good time while cutting back. Set limits on how many drinks you’ll order before going out, and stick to it. If you’re out with friends for a nice dinner, buy wine by the bottle instead of the glass or, better yet, seek out restaurants with low corkage fees and bring your own. And for at-home consumption, it’s cheaper to buy a full case of 24 beers than it is to pick up four six-packs. But you need to have the willpower to make them last.
Track Your Social Spending
The only way to really know how much you spend on socializing is to track your spending. With a three-month window, you should be able to come up with a reasonable average of how much you spend. (Partying aside, you really should be tracking your spending anyway as it’s the first step in creating and sticking to a realistic budget.)
When tracking your entertainment expenses, you should include everything: restaurant receipts, the price of concert or movie tickets, bar tabs, sports team membership fees, and so on.
But, keep in mind periods where your social life may take a dramatic upswing, such as the Christmas/New Year’s period, the first few weeks of spring patio season, or the NHL playoffs, where you go out more than normal, and try to account for that in your budget.
Eager to get started now, rather than waiting three months? Do a retroactively tally by choosing three random months (say, March, June, and September) and adding up what you spent then. To do so, pull out your credit card receipts and bank statements, and flip through your day timer to find events you may have paid for with cash.
Movie Money Madness
Movies used to be considered a cheap dating option – but have you seen the price of popcorn these days? That date or study break may now have you shelling out upwards of $50 for two tickets, along with snacks – more if you’re taking in one of new 3D flicks.
This is where a rewards program like the Cineplex SCENE card can really come in handy. It’s free to sign up, and members score a 10 per cent discount when buying their movie tickets, and at the concession stand. The program also has a credit card component, which earns SCENE points on everyday purchases which can be put towards movies and other entertainment – pretty practical as far as rewards go. BONUS OFFER: Get a free $25 gift card and four free movies from RateSupermarket.ca upon approval.