Most of us look forward to a new year. It’s a clean slate and the perfect time to set new goals for ourselves. But before you start thinking about resolutions for the new year, your immediate plans might include ending 2014 with a bang.
Each year, millions live it up on New Year’s Eve. According to a 2013 Mint analysis for New Year’s Eve spending, about 83 percent of people spent less than $200, roughly 9 percent spent between $200 and $499, 3 percent spent between $500 and $999, and 1 percent spent more than $1,000 for a memorable evening.
Of course, our bank accounts don’t always agree with our plans. Fortunately, there are money-saving hacks to enjoy the festivities without going broke.
1. Stay in and Host a Potluck
Some nightclubs host the craziest, hottest parties on New Year’s Eve, but these establishments also have expensive cover charges and overpriced alcohol. Host a potluck party and ask each guest to bring a dish for everyone to share. If you don’t feel weird asking your friends to share the cost of food, each person can chip in $3 to $5 ahead of time and you can use this money to create a taco, potato or pizza bar for the night. It’s cheap, delicious, and less than what everyone would pay at a nightclub or restaurant.
This is especially savvy when you consider that many restaurants inflate the cost of a meal on New Year’s Eve. Mint found that a dinner for two at one restaurant was normally $322 but ran $1,482 on New Year’s Eve.
2. Elevate Your Cheap Booze
Now that you have the food covered, it’s time to decide how you’ll handle the alcohol for the evening. Like food, alcohol can really add up, especially at a bar or nightclub. Some hosts take a BYOB-approach (bring your own beer or booze), but if you want to be the host of the year and supply your guests with free bubbly, a tip is to substitute champagne with Prosecco. It’s a sparkling wine available in a variety of flavors and costs roughly one-third the cost of champagne. Or, buy several bottles of cheap wine and put it in the blender for a couple of minutes. This decants the wine, making a $3 bottle taste like a $30 bottle.
3. Clear Your Browser’s Cookies for Cheaper Flights
If you have a couple days off from work, it might be fun to welcome the new year in New York City, Las Vegas or another holiday hot spot. However, between inflated airfare and hotel prices this time of the year, you might spend $500 to $1,000 for one night of fun. But there’s a trick to save on airfare.
Make sure to clear the cookies on your computer before purchasing an airline ticket. Believe it or not, this is how airlines dupe people into spending money. As you innocently search the internet for the lowest-priced flights, some travel websites place a tracking cookie on your computer, keeping tabs of the flights you’ve searched. When you’re ready to book they raise the price of flights; but if you clear your cookies, you eliminate the cookie crumb trail, making it easier to secure a cheap ticket.
4. Avoid Ridesharing Surge Fees
You might think you’re okay to drive after a night of partying and alcohol, but the police officer that pulls you over might think otherwise. Even if you were in complete control of your car, failing a breathalyzer test comes with a hefty price tag. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first offense and you didn’t cause any property damage or injury, a DUI usually costs $10,000.
Using rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft after a night of partying protects lives, your reputation and your bank account, but a 15-minute ride home on New Year’s morning can disrupt your New Year’s Eve budget, especially since these apps increase prices when there’s high demand.
To save money on this service, request a ride home 30 minutes after the bars close or download an app to help you avoid surge pricing, such as SurgeProtector. This app helps you find the nearest “non-surge spot” where you can ask to be picked up. Walking just a couple of blocks or feet to another pickup spot might significantly reduce your fare.
5. Swap or Rent Party Attire
It’s a party and you want to look your best, but a designer outfit or formal wear can set you back a pretty penny. If you’ve been wearing the same party attire for months and need a new look, swap outfits with someone who’s not in your circle, such as a coworker or neighbor who will attend a different event. You’ll arrive at your separate parties with a style that your friends haven’t seen before without spending a dime. There are also sites like Rent the Runway for party dress rentals and formal gowns. Spend $35 to rent a dress that retails for $498 for up to four days.
6. Recycle Party Decorations
Most stores don’t sell out of holiday-themed decorations, and there’s usually a generous surplus of these items after Christmas. If you’re hosting a party, you can stock up at a bargain and decorate your place on the cheap. For long-term savings, choose decorations that don’t include the year and reuse them next year. Or if you don’t want to spend a dime, reuse decorations from your company’s holiday party (party hats, streamers, noise makers, banners, etc.) since these items are going to end up in the trash.