cheerful group of friends having fun and clinking their glasses

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Summer months make it hard to stay indoors. But being out on the social scene comes at a price. Tally the cost of drinks and food with friends and a few date nights to put a heavy dent in your bank account.

Since missing out on the fun isn’t an ideal option, opt for a smart choice. “Budgeting your spending money as summer party season comes up is very important,” says Ash Cash, a personal finance expert. Without a budget, you’ll end up dipping into your savings account, or use a credit card and rack up debt. Cash says money isn’t the only thing you should consider budgeting. Try being strategic about where spend your time and money for the win. Here are Cash’s tips for a budget-friendly summer.

 

1Make a Weekly Budget

Pay your bills and handle your savings goals, then allocate how much you can spend kicking it each week. While it’s great to keep the number in your head, it’s easier to stick to your budget if you use cash instead of your debit or credit card. Keep yourself honest by taking your “play money” out of the bank and stashing it in the house so you can retrieve it daily.

2Leave Credit Cards at Home

Picture this: You’re three drinks and one wing platter in when you realize you’ve hit your cash limit. Spend or stop? If you have a credit card on hand, the answer will likely be to keep pushing it. Stay on budget and eliminate the temptation to rack up charges by leaving debit cards at home. You’ll thank yourself in September.

3Look For Free Events

There are deals everywhere during the summer. Festivals, free concerts and picnics are just a few examples of low-to-no-cost events that are perfect for kicking it with friends or on a date. Of course, good deals require a bit of reconnaissance. Check your local papers, websites, social groups and Eventbrite for leads.

4Hit Up Happy Hour

There’s a reason they call it “happy.” Many restaurants and bars offer deep discounts on selected food and drinks, typically half off, during this period. Use them to your advantage—especially for meals. Happy hours should be the first spot you hit up, particularly if you’re making a night of it.

5Pre-Game Drinks and Food

You know everything will be marked up once you head out, so save yourself a headache. Eat and sip on a little something before you hit the streets. That way you won’t need a full meal when you’re out, and you can pace your drinks over the course of the evening.