Colette Sexton, news correspondent at The Sunday Business Post, on how to save a few bob while retaining your social butterfly status.
The long, dark days of January have finally come to an end, and the post-Christmas salary drought is over. But with renewed bank accounts comes danger. The resistance to splurge can be hard to overcome, and it will leave you in another broke scenario in a couple of weeks' time as you countdown the days to February’s payday. It is time to take control of your finances and end the boom-bust cycle you subject yourself to on a monthly basis. “But how?” you cry, “We still want to have fun.” Fear not, being frugal does not mean you have to turn into a social outcast. Here are some ways to enjoy yourself without breaking the bank.
Go for a walk
A walk in the crisp fresh air with friends can be a great way to catch up while getting some exercise. We are spoiled for choice in Ireland with wonderful coastal, mountain and nature walks across the country, so you’ve no excuse. If you’re feeling brave, you can tackle Croagh Patrick or do the Bray to Greystones walk (no cheating - go there and back). For the less fit, a nice walk around Glendalough in Co. Wicklow or Lahinch in Co. Clare will be less strenuous but still exhilarating.
Be a foodie on the cheap
Maybe you and your friends are foodies that love going to the nicest restaurants to sample the goods. There is nothing like food to bond people together, but going out to eat can be an expensive habit. Try encouraging your friends to do a Come Dine with Me-style competition — a different person cooks for everyone each week and at the end, you vote on who was the best host. You’ll save a fortune and might even be crowned champion.
Go to a free museum
Archaeology, animals, country life — whatever you are interested in, it will be covered by the National Museums of Ireland. These are free to enter and you can spend hours learning about our culture and heritage. Check out their website for special free events. If you fancy something a bit more modern, the Science Gallery in Trinity College is also free to enter. Its latest exhibition is all about intimacy if you fancy getting into a romantic mood ahead of Valentine’s Day.
There is a range of charities across the country crying out for volunteers. Build a friendship with an elderly person, foster a pet, teach people how to use a computer or smartphone — whatever your skills, there is definitely a charity that can benefit from them. Check out volunteer.ie to find the right one for you.
Have a board game marathon
Touch base with your inner child and break out Monopoly, Scrabble, and Guess Who for a few hours of wholesome fun (unless you and/or your friends hate losing, in which case it might turn into a fiercely competitive evening of fun). For extra nostalgia points, throw on some childhood films while you’re at it: Little Rascals, The Land Before Time, Toy Story.