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The Top 10 Reasons You’ll Spend Too Much This Weekend

Come Friday night, whether you hit the town with friends or do dinner and a movie with your sweetie, weekends take a toll on your wallet. Here are 10 major money-sucks and what you can do about them.

10. One Tequila, Two Tequila… – With drinks ranging from a few bucks to $10 or more for a sophisticated cocktail, overindulging may give your wallet a hangover, too. Have a drink at home before heading out for the night; then alternate between (free) tap water and alcoholic drinks. You will drink (and pay) less, and you won’t even notice because you’ll always have a glass in your hand.

9. ATM Fees – It may be easier to pay for your cabs and cosmos in cash; just make sure you have enough. Many ATMs carry fees ranging from a buck fifty to over $3.00. Fee-free machines are getting harder to find.

8. Mega Mileage – We tend to drive more on the weekends. When we zig-zag from soccer practice, to the mall, to the dump, to dinner, we rack up the miles – and the costly fill-ups. If you’re smart, the weekend is a perfect time to consolidate trips to conserve some gas.

7. Impulse Buying – Hitting the stores on Saturday to restock the fridge or nab other necessities? Unlike dashing out for an item during the week, we have more time to browse on weekends, and suddenly our carts fill up with crap we don’t need. Avoid temptation: make a list and stick to it. Get in the store and get out! Also, avoid going to the mall just because you’re bored. Need something to do? Try these free weekend activities.

6. Dinner Out – There’s nothing like enjoying a drink and gourmet meal you didn’t prepare. Just remember: a mid-priced meal out for two (including 1 drink each and tip) costs three to five times a home-cooked meal. My advice? Keep dining out to once a week, go easy on the drinks, and if you must do apps or desert, get one and split it. Finally, eat half your portion and doggy-bag the rest. It was probably too big anyway!

5. Cover Charges – If bars and clubs are your scene, don’t get pinched by covers. Many places don’t charge until the music starts or a certain hour, so arrive early and lay low. If you need to hop around, pick spots that don’t charge just to get inside: they probably have a more interesting clientele, anyway.

4. Alcohol-abetted Spending – The cost of a few drinks aside, those beers can really get expensive when they start to inhibit your reservations. It starts with buying a drink for the cute guy/girl across the bar. It can end with a round for the entire place or perhaps way too much pizza or Chinese food. Ever made a purchase you didn’t remember? You may want to leave the credit cards at home!

3. Costly Concessions – Whether you’re at a movie or the ball game, everything is more expensive inside. C’mon, a hot dog should never cost $8! Do dinner before the show or game to avoid the temptation to snack. Or sneak in some munchies in your pocket…just watch out for chocolate. It can melt – and that won’t look good on a first date.

2. Wasted Hours – Time spent poorly can be just as costly as money spent poorly. Hours flopped in front of the TV may not cost anything, but certainly won’t give you anything! Use free time to learn a new skill, read a book related to your career, or volunteer in your community, where you can give back and forge new relationships to boot!

1. DUIs – Driving drunk isn’t just stupid, it can be expensive. You’ll pay bail, impound fees, and a lawyer. If convicted, fines can be thousands and a lost license can mean lost wages or expensive alternative transportation. Drink a few too many? Consider the cost of a cab – or even a hotel room – an intelligent investment.

Published or updated on March 7, 2008

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


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  1. Great post! It’s funny how on the weekends we love throwing our money around. It seems that I always struggle with the mentality of, “It’s the weekend, I deserve it!” Definitely some good things to be aware of and avoid.

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