Skip to main content Accessibility Statement
couples drink in a bar

Survive January: How to have fun for less

Going out may be fun, but many of us end up agonising over whether we can afford it. Could it be because we just don’t know how to say ‘no’?

A lot of promises get made over the Christmas period, with pledges to cut back on spending in the New Year very common. After all the fun of the festive season, with its endless round of parties and nights on the town, many of us look forward to a quiet January.

Unfortunately, ‘quiet’ can soon seem ‘boring’. With January often grey and grim, thoughts can turn to socialising with friends or work colleagues.

More than half bust the socialising budget

This probably explains why a Money Advice Service survey conducted this time last year found 56% of Brits admitted spending more than they intended when out and about, adding up to an extra spend of £341 a year.

Money may be in short supply, but that doesn't have to curtail all your socialising. Here are some ways to enjoy yourself without feeling too stingy.

Payment options

Decide on a budget and stick to it by taking cash, but leaving your card at home. Work out what you’ll need so you don’t run out of money and either end up borrowing from friends, which could be awkward and defeats the object, or going home early.

Be honest

At this time of the year you can guarantee most, if not all, of your friends will also be short of cash.

So, be upfront if a pal suggests something too expensive or a sudden change of plan, such as going on for a meal when you’d budgeted for a few drinks in a bar or a twirl around the ice-skating ring. You don’t have to follow the crowd.

Pay your way

If you are going for a meal with friends tell them you’d like to pay for what you spend rather than split the bill, that way you can avoid subsidising someone who chooses something from the a la carte menu when you’ve opted for a set meal.

There’s always tomorrow

Plans to have a low-key January can soon be scuppered if you have a wide circle of friends. Decide how much you’re willing to spend on socialising each week and if this means missing a night out, so be it. There will always be others.

Suggest alternatives

If you are going out with friends, look for special offers, such as happy hours, 2-4-1 vouchers, discounts and free events that could help keep costs down without diluting a good night out.   

What do you think?

We really want you to share your views, but please remember to be nice ☺
All fields are required. Check out our full commenting guidelines

By clicking on 'Post Comment', you're agreeing to our Commenting Policy

  • David Hunter / 25 January 2016

    I have found that evening and day classes are a cheap way of having some time out of the house now that I am retired. The W.E.A. run some worthwhile courses with discounts available if students are on a low income. Not so many colleges offer discounts these days as they are being squeezed financially but it's worth asking. Pensioners like me might care to have a look at the Age U.K. website for various activities which usually don't cost very much. It is important to maintain some social contact once working days are over.

  • Amanda Shillito / 18 January 2016

    These are amazing tips!! I tend to not socialize because I am scared of over-spending but now, I feel like I can do it within a set budget! Thank you x

  • david / 17 January 2016

    dont waste electricity by putting your vegetables in the fridge,,,,

  • Bille / 16 January 2016

    Don't waste the vegetables lingering in the bottom of the fridge. Make a soup with them. All the better if you can combine them with a chicken carcase. Tart it up with mixed herbs,curry powder or an Oxo cube. The soup will give you 4-5 portions for lunch and is very good if you are trying to lose weight.

  • Michelle evers / 15 January 2016

    Some really great advice here my job has just ended so i am looking at ways to sell unwanted clothes household gadgets etc... please email me more money saving tips selling advice etc....

  • Amt / 14 January 2016

    Games nights at your / your friend's homes! Great fun! Someone brings the main, someone the dessert, someone the snacks!

    A great evening!

  • Dominic Fahr / 14 January 2016

    I get to spend Christmas day alone, by informing all those who invite me that I'd offend those I had already turned down. With 19 children, (from 5 marriages), 43 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren it is a reasonable excuse. If invited to "eat out", I always elect just to turn up for after dinner coffee. January is a bad month anyway, as the tax bill has to be paid by the 31st!

  • roy / 11 January 2016

    Attempt to get some distance ahead of your outlay. Use a debit card, if card you must. Draw down enough cash from time to time to cover your day to day purchases. You will then see more clearly where the money is going as it goes. If you can, keep your own accounts even for the cash in your pocket. Above all follow Mr Micawber's advice! The guidelines in the article are good sense too.

  • abdennour khodja / 5 January 2016

    You are absolutely right, your way is my way of living ,but my money end up in bokies pocket ,better make your life easy with the money then filling the thief pocket ,but is good to be wise

  • AM Newman / 28 December 2015

    The biggest tip I ever got us to leave money at home if you don't intend to buy something (credit card for emergencies). If you have no cash to buy what you don't need that's exactly what happens. At the end of a week / month / year you will notice a big difference .