If you’ve been doing a no-spend January – WELL DONE! How did you get on? For me, when doing a no-spend, not buying clothes/items/anything from Amazon are the easiest things not to do, but socialising is hard without some decent forward planning.
Marie Ellis of Broke Girl In The City is an expert when it comes to frugal socialising in London, but her tips can be applied in many other cities across the UK.
So if you’re thinking of carrying on with more conscious spending habits throughout the year and now have a reduced socialising budget to start saving/investing, then take a look at Marie’s tips and see what you think!
Who says frugal can’t be fun?
You can’t beat a ‘Happy Hour’ living in the city. If you love a good espresso martini or glass of prosecco, then this is the best way of getting them without breaking the bank!
Not only does it save you money but it’s also a barometer for how long you should stay out drinking. As soon as those drink prices go back up. It’s time to leave.
Top tips for those of you who love cocktails: Barrio East (Shoreditch, Brixton, etc), Bussey Rooftop Bar (Peckham), Rum Kitchen (Brixton, Notting Hill, Carnaby Street), The Social (Fitzrovia) and Simmons (various including Angel, Clerkenwell, Camden, Farringdon and Soho).
FREE Things To Do
Living in the city may be expensive but there are also so many FREE things to do.
Whether you love Art, Film, Culture, Music there is always something going on. Check out the Barbican, V&A or National Portrait Gallery for art exhibitions. Vauxhall One also offer free film screenings during the summer months. You can also sign up to free tours of London, where you pay what you feel afterwards.
Home Dinner Parties
Some of my favourite weekends living in the city have been cooking a Sunday roast dinner with friends, watching TV and catching up. If you ask each of your friends to contribute food and/or drinks, it really is a cheap way of having fun with the people you love the most! A dinner for 4-6 costs less than a tenner. It’s a great way of meeting new friends too – just ask your friends to bring along someone they know! Take a look at Asda’s feature on meals for under £1 per person for some inspiration.
Free Gigs & Music
I love music. I lived next to the Lock Tavern and the Hawley Arms in Camden when I worked for MTV – all are hotspots for gigs. There were always so many free or cheap gigs happening around London. Many pubs also will put on live music for free. Check out your local pubs for free entertainment too.
Top tips: Notting Hill Carnival, Southbank Centre (Waterloo), Trafalgar Square (various music festivals), Lambeth Country Show & Camden / Brixton.
Nothing beats a free bar. Whether you work in PR, Marketing, Sales, Advertising, Bars – there is always a chance to socialise for free. Whether you sign up to social events as part of your work environment (WeWork has free beer and prosecco on tap), work events (parties and socialising) or have a drink with the boss. There are ways in which you can socialise for free – just remember they are work colleagues and/or clients so try and behave too!
Unfortunately, if you work for the NHS, this is very unlikely to happen anytime soon. So to get around this, you’ll have to buddy up with someone who does have access to these kinds of events!
Bar Work / Festivals
Bar work is one of the most sociable jobs you can get. Where else do you get to have fun whilst working – and get paid for it. It’s illegal to be intoxicated whilst being behind the bar, but most bars have a fun working environment. During the summer there are lots of opportunities to volunteer to work at festivals where in exchange for your labour, you can get to music festivals.
Perfect for Sundays! Bottomless brunches are a fantastic way to spend the day with friends. Try the All Star Lanes in Shoreditch homemade American favourites and Prosecco or Craft Beers. If that’s not for you, try dancing around a ping pong table with bottomless prosecco at Ping Pong or dine out together with Honest Burger boozy bottomless brunch for £30pp.
My dear friend Stephen Bailey who you may have seen on Celebs go camping and Zoe Ball Live started out on the live comedy circuit.
I have been to so many amazing free comedy nights at various places in and around London supporting him. Just one word of advice. Don’t sit in the front if you are a little shy!
Check out The List for where you can find these shows across the UK.
If you travel to London, then grab yourself an Oyster card. Costing an initial £5, it’s cheaper to top up then buying a daily travel card. It’s the perfect way to getting around the city, which you can use to pay as you go on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air Line and River Bus services. You only pay for what you use.
Top tip: get a visitor Oyster card (which cannot be purchased in London, but can be delivered to your home, or you can get it from other locations around the UK) and you’ll have access to a number of discounts in restaurants/bars and museum entries.
Restaurant Offers & discounts
With so many places offering discounts, you can easily pick up a great offer to treat yourself in London! It’s worth taking the time to check what discounts are on offer before arranging to meet friends. Try sites such as vouchercodes, Moneysavingexpert, Vouchercloud, or download the Citymunch app for suggestions. Groupon is also great for this!
Take a bit of time to do this – you NEVER know what deals may come your way.
A new app has been launched called Huggg. When you download it for the first time, you get 5 “hugggs” to give to your friends in the form of 5 free coffees. The huggg is redeemed in a participating coffee shop, and it shows you where you can use them on the app.
If your friend downloads the app, they can send one of their free coffees to you so that you both benefit!
Once the freebies have been used, you can then buy hugggs for eachother like cake, ice cream and cinema tickets. It’s quite a nice way of giving a gift!
Unfortunately the food hugggs are only valid in Bath, Bristol and London at the moment, but if this proves popular, hopefully it’ll spread all over the UK! You can send Odeon or Vue cinema tickets too, and these are available in more UK locations.
Living The Frugal Life In The City
So it’s totally possible to socialise on the cheap in cities around the UK. It just takes a little creativity and forward planning. Which tip did you like best? Do you have any more you could suggest to everyone?
Having a budget doesn’t mean you have to be boring.
Thank you Marie for sharing your top tips with us!!
Until next time,
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