On any other given weekend, I’m normally the last guy still out.
After everyone has gone home to their S.O. or Netflix or bed, I’m still chasing the next fun thing, extending my adventure until everything has closed and every open pizza spot has run out of slices. I only have regrets the next morning when I check my bank account; I spent how much last night?! But as I get older, I’d rather start saving more money to travel to Hawaii or plan for my future or, you know, just have in case I get bitten by a rabid raccoon or something. Adult-y stuff. So in an effort to grow up and save more, I've decided to rethink my party legend status and spend only $50 this weekend...without being a complete homebody.
Just because saying “FOMO” isn’t cool anymore doesn’t mean you can’t still feel it.
Friday is the perfect gateway to a weekend of 💸, and I had to be strong in the face of my co-workers' going-out plans and come up with a cheaper but equally as exciting backup. I suggested a “drawapalooza” instead, where we’d all just sketch and hang. That way we could still be social (sans FOMO) instead of spending money on drinks. Win-win.
I couldn’t even pretend to be on their level drawing-wise, so I focused on improving my brush lettering skillz. By the end of the night, my A’s and D’s were lookin’ pretty mediocre to acceptable, if I do say so myself.
After the drawapalooza, I decided to split from the group to avoid further temptation. I walked to a nearby bookstore and browsed for almost two hours, which subjectively is incredibly relaxing and objectively is very, very free. I ultimately held off on buying anything because I had several unread books at home, exercising a level of self-control of which I never thought myself capable.
But at Forbidden Planet, my favorite comic-book shop, I said “screw it” and threw self-restraint out the window.
Because hell hath no fury like a comics nerd scorned, I had to* (*didn’t actually have to) pick up the latest issue of my favorite series or else my weekend would be ruined** (**hyperbole). I also spent some time just basking in their huge assortment of geeky paraphernalia. I couldn’t justify buying anything aside from the one comic, but it was enough just to be there browsing (and desiring) for an hour.
I felt really good about my spending for the day, so I decided to end my evening by treating myself to a late-night film. I'd still be staying out late, but putting a smaller amount of money into one longer activity was better because I knew I’d be ready to go home right after. Plus solo trips to the theater are the best — there are always single seats available, so you can get there after previews and be A-OK. Highly recommend.
Afterward, I skipped the 'za and went straight home. Guess I’d be “dieting” this weekend too. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Key takeaways: Solo dates can be really fun! There are small things you can treat yo self with without full-on splurging. Also, if you work on Fridays and don’t want to go straight home, you can do something productive AND free while still hangin’ out.
Day total: Comic book ($3) + movie ticket ($12) = $15
Tip for starting your Saturday off right: 1. Purchase egg-and-cheese-stuffed croissant. 2. Consume.
I’d be cooking whatever I already had at home to save money throughout the weekend, but today I woke up and grabbed a lil’ breakfast pick-me-up because I knew I’d need the energy. I ate it on the steps of a nearby pay-what-you-want museum before heading in. It was donation-based, so I gave $5 instead of the suggested $16 (I’d make up the difference next time, promise, but for now #winning). There's something really nice about going early in the morning — I talked to more employees about the art and had the stamina to hit every floor. Normally I'd wake up and immediately just watch TV, but it felt good to be more active and creatively stimulated instead.
Afterward, I found a nearby stoop sale where, yes, I spent a biiit more of my budget…
Because I didn't go full nerd at Forbidden Planet yesterday, I decided to pick up these steeply discounted and good-condition Star Wars posters as well as a new (used) bag. Regrets? None.
From there, I zipped over to a nearby zine festival where a bunch of different people had tables set up with their self-published “zines” and chapbooks. I browsed for a while then gravitated toward the fine folks at Endless Editions (check out their awesome work here!). They were really friendly and happy to discuss their different publications.
From this experience, I was inspired to gather some friends for what I dubbed our Finer Things Club.
Essentially this meant we would all meet up to casually discuss the same essay. Rather than going out and gossiping, we got to share different perspectives around the same topic AND learn along the way. (If you don’t think learning is fun...you’re wrong.) Maybe next time we’d add wine and cheese too, but, despite those being some of the finest things ever, I decided to skip ‘em for our inaugural meeting to save some more $$$. (After all, I still had another day left!)
After engaging my left brain, I gave my right brain a workout before calling the night quits by hitting up a free concert. I didn’t know the band, but that kind of made it even more fun; I got to hear some cool new sounds and be social at once. When I got home, I felt accomplished — and the best part was I’d wake up in the morning and not freak out at how much I'd spent.
Key takeaways: Find free alternatives to the things you like to do! Even if you don’t live in a big city, you can start your own fun groups that appeal to your interests or do some online research to find fun and free festivals in your area.
Day total: Croissant ($4) + museum donation ($5) + stoop sale finds ($10) = $19
What’s cheaper and better than sleeping in? Answer: nothing.
Ah, Sundays. The perfect day to rest, be lazy, and get to know every part of your couch. While spending an entire day watching TV and eating sounds like plenty of fun to me, though, I wanted to keep doing fun activities...just, like, without moving too much, ya know?
I started by making coffee and getting some writing done. (I was working on something for Breadcrumbs, an online literary and arts magazine, but if you’re not into submitting stuff, you could always just journal/doodle/notate dreams/whatever suits you!) Doing any sort of Morning Pages can help with creative blocks and declutter your mind so you’re fresh and ready to tackle the day.
Then I remembered about the posters I got yesterday, so I spent some time hanging those up, which inevitably turned into reorganizing my room. Admittedly not the most fun thing ever, but seeing the results of your work is always satisfying and productive, so this was a win in my book.
With my mind free and apartment clean, it was time to plan the evening’s social activity: game night!
I knew in order to entice people to come over I had to have some snacks available, so I stopped at the grocery store and picked up a few cheap things. Once everything was ready, I invited over a couple friends to play some card, dice, and video games, chow on some snacks, and hang for a few hours. It’s such a simple thing to plan but always fun without having to go out and spend money elsewhere. (It was too cold for a picnic, but you could also turn this into an outdoorsy potluck day if you wanted!)
After people left, I did the most relaxing thing I could think of to end my weekend. I had already picked up some cheap bubble bath at the grocery store earlier, so once the tub was bleached and full of perfectly tepid water, I hopped in and read my comic from Friday by candlelight — and, well, it was glorious to say the least. Why don’t I do this every weekend?!
Key takeaways: Having a stay-at-home day is a surefire way to save dat precious moolah, but it doesn’t have to be boring! Plan an intimate get-together, find some kind of creative activity to do, and/or treat yourself to something relaxing and different.
Day total: Snacks ($8) + bath goodies ($6) = $14
Weekend total: $49
Overall, was it the most difficult thing in the world to spend less than $50 over three days? Not at all.
It’s just about rethinking how you spend your money and finding alternatives to the more costly activities you like. Instead of buying an expensive concert ticket, maybe find a free or cheap one and discover a new band. Do you go out and spend a ton of money while hanging with friends? Think of things you can all do together that don’t require $$$ — you might even learn a thing or two or have deeper conversations! And there’s certainly nothing wrong with vegging out at home with a book, TV show, or bath.
Sometimes all it takes is some ingenuity and self-restraint to feel like a million bucks...without spending more than 50.
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Design by Marjan Farsad / Photography by Daniel Toy / BuzzFeed © 2017