Frugal Fridays: Money-saving tips for the bar scene

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How to Save Money at Bars

Friday nights out at your local dive or that new swanky club are always a blast--until you're lying in bed on Saturday morning checking your bank statement.

The bar scene has a sneaky way of draining your bank account. First, it's buying the alcohol to pre-game with, then buying drinks for yourself and your friends at the bar, then ordering food at the bar when you get hungry. This isn't even factoring in cover charges, tipping or Uber and cab fares. It all adds up, and it adds up quickly.

SEE ALSO: U.S. consumer spending gains steam

When you're trying to save money, sometimes it feels like the only option is to opt out and stay home. But fear not! There are ways to go out, have fun, do your thing and not blow through all of your cash. (We promise!)

We've compiled our best tips for mastering a night of drinking when you're trying to watch your spending.

Take a look at all of these tips before you go out and let loose this weekend:

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Frugal Fridays: Money-saving tips for the bar scene

Drink before going to the bar.

Buying beer and/or liquor from a store rather than at a bar is always cheaper. You can buy in bulk, plus choose from cheaper brands. Drinking before you get to the bar also means that you'll end up needing to drink less once you're out (instant money saver).

photo credit: getty

Ask for a double cocktail.

This one you have to be careful about. But, if you're planning on buying yourself more than one cocktail throughout the night, this might be more cost effective. Though some bars charge double the price of a normal drink for double the amount of alcohol, many do not. You'll pay more money at one time for a heavier stacked drink, but if you're planning on getting more than one anyway, you'll save money overall. 

photo credit: getty

Avoid bars with cover charges.

For all of the fun and trendy bars that come with a cover, there are just as many that do not. Avoid big-hype bars that often require an entry fee of $10 or more--it's an extraneous expense that you don't need to make if you're trying to save money.

photo credit: getty

Buy pitchers when possible.

Pitchers always end up being cheaper than everyone buying individual bottles or glasses when it comes to beer and sangria. You can all split the price evenly and most times bars have specials on pitchers in an effort to get you to buy in to them. It's a solid plan when you're going with a group of 4 or more.

photo credit: getty

Stick to beer on tap and/or house liquor.

If your beverage of choice doesn't pair with a brand of choice, ordering a cheap or generic brand that the particular bar carries will always be your cheapest option. Granted it might not go down as smoothly as a recognizable top-shelf name, but hey, you get what you pay for.

photo credit: getty

Eat at home before you go out.

Not only is bar food not the healthiest/tastiest, but it ends up being more expensive than it's worth (mostly because bars know that once you're intoxicated, all you'll want is greasy food without rationalizing how much you're spending on it). Fill yourself up before you head out. 

photo credit: getty

Take advantage of happy hour

Happy hour often lasts more than an hour and can run quite late at some places. Research the happy hour specials and times around you--you might be surprised at what you'll find. Plus, even if it's not your final destination, happy hours make for great pre-games--buy a few drinks at a happy hour price and you'll end up having to buy fewer full price drinks later in the night. 

photo credit: shutterstock

Pay in cash.

With anything, paying entirely in cash instead of with a credit or debit card makes it transparent for you to see how much money you're spending and how much more you've budgeted for yourself to spend. 

photo credit: getty

Ask about weekly drink specials.

Bars will have drink specials throughout the week that give you really solid deals in an effort to keep people coming in. Find out which bars have specials on which days so you know where to go when you're looking for a discounted night out. 

photo credit: getty

Tip as you go.

Frugal as it may seem, in a bar setting, this can save you a lot of money. Unlike a restaurant where you're paying one bill for everything at once, drinking at a bar usually means ordering multiple drinks at different points throughout the night. Tip as you go so you're paying a percentage for each drink, instead of paying a tip on your grand total at the end of the night. Plus, if you wait until the end of the night, you might overtip due to intoxication. 

photo credit: getty

If you really need to drink top-shelf liquor or beer, start with it at the beginning of the night.

By drink number 3 or 4, the taste of lower quality alcohol won't bother you as much and you can switch to a cheaper-priced drink. 

photo credit: getty

Never leave your tab open if you're paying by card.

You'll be more tempted to keep ordering drinks if you can just charge them to your card and not have to deal with it until you're ready to leave. It also leaves the opportunity for other people to give your name and charge their drinks to your tab, which, for obvious reasons, is less than desirable for your bank account. 

photo credit: getty

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