In the Red: For a thriving social life on the cheap, there's no place like home

Looking over my bank statements, I couldn't quite figure out what had happened. Where had my money gone? I'd been so well behaved, what with limiting my cash withdrawals, taking my own lunch in to work and buying things second-hand. But still I was broke. Again.

It wasn't as though I'd spent all my salary in one go – it had just sort of, well, trickled away. And not on café lunches or expensive birthday presents. No, the problem was my social life.

Funny, really, because it isn't even all that active. Sure, I've got friends – but I also have a job, a family and particular talent for lying on my sofa. I'll go out twice – occasionally three times – a week, hardly enough to warrant a cash crisis.

The thing is, there are very few ways to avoid spending when going out. A night at the pub means, at very least, covering the cost of my own drink and, all too often, the cost of others'. The cinema isn't any better with its £7 tickets and extravagantly priced snacks – and neither are most night clubs with their £10 cover charges. The worst, of course, is going out for dinner. A main course usually reaches at least £10, and then there's a tip to be paid – not to mention all those tempting appetisers, desserts and bottles of wine.

Clearly, I'll have to tone things down. But there's no way I'm prepared to chuck out my social life wholesale. What would I do then? Get up, work, go to bed... and never have any fun (not that the office isn't a thrilling place of permanent joy)?

The answer, I suppose, is to socialise at home. It doesn't take a genius to work out that staying in with friends is cheaper than going out with them.

Dinner parties, for instance, aren't the most economical option – when shopping for six friends, it's easy to forget that they've done the same to you – but so long as the entertaining is reciprocal then in the long term it'll work out cheaper than heading to a restaurant. It would be easy to become that one person who never invites anyone back. But then that would be mean – not to mention boring. And I for one don't have any friends who would tolerate it for long.

Cheaper still are drinks parties – if only because people tend to bring their own bottle, meaning that by the end of the evening you're left with almost as many drinks as you started out with. And they can be so fun – dressed up as cocktail parties, or down as a few beers in front of the TV.

In fact, there are plenty of activities which share the financial burden among the group. I'd always hated the idea of a pot-luck supper, with each guest bringing a different dish for everyone to share – it conjured up rather dubious images of 1970s fondue sets and bowls of carrot and raisin salad. But then I went to a friend's and it was brilliant: a bit like having dim sum except, instead of the char siu buns, there were three different types of chocolate cake and several plates of samosas. Afternoon teas, picnics or breakfasts share much the same concept. With each person bringing a small contribution, there's always more than enough food at minimal individual cost.

Apart from the money saved, staying in has a whole host of advantages. Smokers can smoke if they want, so the party stays where it's meant to be, instead of dividing and recongregating in a drafty doorway. There's usually a choice of music, something anyone who has been forced to tolerate the local bartender-cum-DJ would be glad of.

And, of course, it's invitation only. Everyone there knows one another – or at least knows someone in common – so there's much less jostling for a spot at the bar, ignoring the loud table in the corner or tolerating the lecherous stranger, and much more actual socialising. Real, enjoyable, genuine socialising.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

    £50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

    £13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

    Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own