I crunched the numbers on my credit card bill recently and – doh! – discovered I spent almost a third of my money eating out! Most of the money I spent was on dinners and lunches with friends, which lead me to brainstorm this list of nine FREE (or super duper cheap) friend dates:
Join a group of wild and zany folks who secretly practice a dance routine, then appear out of nowhere to perform it in public. Talk about guaranteed memories! Plus, you will likely make new friends with other creative types.
Reserve three movies on Redbox (it’s a lot cheaper than some mail order DVD services!), serve up a batch of popcorn, and settle in.
The question game.
To play, take turns answering the same question. What was your best vacation ever? Who is one famous person you’d like to meet? What is your most embarrassing high school moment? The possibilities are endless.
Pull out Apples to Apples, Scrabble, or even an old fashioned deck of cards.
My current favorite game to play with six-plus people is a twist on Balderdash. Grab a dozen romantic novels from your shelf, the library, or a second-hand bookstore.
One person randomly selects a novel and reads everything written on the front and back jacket, including the title, reviews, synopsis, EVERYTHING.
Then everyone writes down what they think the first sentence of the novel should be. The person who read the information opens the book and writes down the actual first sentence.
Then, when everyone is done writing, the same person reads all of the entries (including the real one) aloud. You should have five fake versions and one true version.
Take turns guessing which sentence you think is the real one. You get a point for a correct guess, and for every person who guesses your (fake) first sentence.
Ugly night out.
Round up your bravest friends and have everyone adorn their ugliest outfit for a night out on the town. Who goes all out? Who bows out? And can you imagine a better conversation starter?
Host a wine or beer tasting.
Ask everyone to bring one bottle of wine or one 6-pack, depending on your preference. Start with the lightest drink and move toward the biggest and boldest flavors.
Whether you discuss the finer points of the booze or just catch up, it’ll be a lot cheaper than going out!
Go garage saling.
Got a frugal friend? Snag a copy of the local paper, grab your GPS or town map, and pick up your bud at 7:45 a.m. sharp, as the best stuff is usually gone by 8 a.m. (when many sales start).
If you have a specific list of what you’re both looking for, you can cruise by and cross certain sales off your list without wasting time. Bring muffins and coffee to keep your energy up (and the fun going!).
Recreate your living room or bedroom with some help from a handy friend. It’s unbelievable how a new layout can transform a room’s mood.
Julia Scott founded the money-saving blog, BargainBabe.com.