The Clubber’s Guide To Saving Money And Having A Good Time

If you're getting ready to go clubbing again after the global pandemic, here's a clubber's guide to saving money and having a good time! I wrote this post back in 2011. No more clubbing for this father of two young children!

In my younger days I used to go out clubbing with friends and regularly drop $100 to $200 a night.  New York City was crazy expensive and we often got bottle service to ensure that we could get into the hottest clubs in the first place.  Each guy almost always had to be paired up with one girl, otherwise you had as good a chance as Obama does of raising taxes in a soft economy than getting in!  Bouncers made it a priority to ensure the inside wasn't a sausage fest.

Spending a couple hundred on a Friday night isn't frugal.  However, this wasn't a point in my life where saving a fortune was a top priority.  Instead, experiencing Manhattan, having fun with friends, and meeting new people were.  A dollar spent while young is more enjoyable than when old since you aren't making much in the first place.  It's inefficient to save money when you're making less money ironically.

As an old man now, who is certainly not in touch with the latest trends in music and fashion, I realize my younger self could have probably saved several thousand bucks going out a year if I wasn't so carefree.  I worked hard and I felt I deserved to party hard.  The phrase, “one life to live” seemed to pop up a lot!  But, a $300 bottle of Moet that costs $50 bucks at Costco might be a little too much!


Here's my clubber's guide just for you.

1) Don't eat a lot.

One of the biggest mistakes is eating a heavy dinner before going out drinking.  If I go out for a big Korean barbecue, my drink tolerance goes up from around 6 beers to infinity beers!  With a ton of food in your stomach, you have to drink much more to get the same buzz.  At the same time, with a full belly, you might not be able to drink as much.  It depends on how buzzed you want to feel.  You can always pretend you are more drunk than you are as the below video sings, “Sober girls around me they be acting like they're drunk.”

2) Pre-party.

The clubber's guide always requires pre-partying before going out.You get to buy your own grocery-bought alcohol for 80% less and drink all you want in the comfort of your own home.  You don't want to get sloppy drunk before you go, otherwise you'll become dysfunctional as you stumble over people on the dance floor.  Hence, I suggest drinking about one-third to one-half of your tolerance level and then head out.

3) Get to know people.

Relationships are everything at clubs.  The more club personnel you know the better.  The first time you meet a bouncer, you should chat him up and ask him his name and tell him yours.  Don't treat him as a guard.  Treat him as a person who has interests just like every other person.  You need to make that connection no matter how intimidating things are.  The same goes with the bartenders.  Get to know the bartenders as they have almost as much power as the bouncer.  Often times, they will either let you in for free or just wave you right in during long lines.

4) Tip regularly.

Counter-intuitive huh? Tipping a bartender without knowing his or her name is a waste of money.  They won't remember you as soon as they take your money.  Again, you need to get to know the bartender's name, learn something about them, share one interesting thing about you at least so they can remember, and then tip.  At this point, you don't have to tip well (20% or more), but certainly tip at least 15%.  They'll feel more grateful receiving a tip from a friend.

5) Bring eye candy.

The Clubber's Guide To Saving Money And Having A Good Time

Having eye candy is a top recommendation in my clubber's guide.

Let's face it, fly girls get into clubs easier than hairy dudes.  A bouncer would be crazy not to let four beautiful women enter, despite a long line since a club known for beautiful women will attract more money-spending men.  If you're with one of those ladies, you're in.  In fact, what you and your buddies can do is chat up the most beautiful looking women outside in the first place, offer to buy them a drink if they let you match up with them.  Most of the time they will say yes.

6) Go early.

Clubs generally develop their long lines starting at 11pm.  Go at 10pm so you don't have to stand in line and you may even avoid the cover charge.  In fact, do many things when the majority of people don't and you will likely save a lot of time and money i.e. going to lunch at 11am instead of noon, leave work at 4pm or 7pm because you came in at 7am or 10am and so forth.

7) Bottle service.

Bottle service is when you book a table and order a minimum. That minimum is generally around $500 in the clubs we frequented.  Each $30 bottle of vodka will run $150 or so, and lets not even talk about the Moet and Crystal.  This is just the price of being able to get in and get a seat.  Back then, it felt like a lot, but now, it's a no-brainer if you don't want to wait for half an hour in the cold and maybe not get in because the club is full, or the bouncer just doesn't like you. 

Besides, splitting $500 dollars five or more ways becomes much more manageable.  Having a table is a big boon to attracting other people to come join you – it's almost like attracting bees to honey.  There's space to sit, alcohol to drink, and sometimes a misplaced belief that you are somebody important.  Better than standing around all night trying to make a move!

8) Become a regular.

My clubber's guide also recommends you to get to know people at the club. Be nice, tip all, know their names.

It goes without saying that the more the club sees you come around, the more familiar they will be with you, and the more likely you will be able to get in, get good service, and have a good time.  I suggest focusing on the same club every week or every other week for two months.  If you aren't completely anti-social, you'll make some friends.  Once you've established the relationships, then you can diversify your clubbing experience.

9) Offer great reviews.

A club is a business with a short shelf life due to high overhead costs, moving trends, and massive competition.  At the end of the day, the owners just want to make money and let everybody have a great time.  You want to let them know that you can be their biggest advocate. 

Tell them that you plan to, or have written a great review about them on Yelp or any other online rating agency.  If you so happen to be in media or journalism, you can definitely score points as well.  Finally, if you are a blogger, you can also offer them a free shout out.  Clubs love shout-outs and now you know why I started this site!

10) Find a girlfriend or boyfriend.

A big part of the cost of clubbing is alcohol.  Some get plastered as it feels good and gives people the confidence to talk to the other sex.  If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend already, you don't need that boost of liquid courage, hence you won't drink as much! 

Besides, over time, your girlfriend will just want to keep you at home to snuggle while watching The Notebook or Vampire Diaries or something, then you'll be really saving some monay!

Use My Clubber's Guide Wisely

Clubbing is incredibly fun with the right friends.  Too bad it now costs a funky leg and a wiggle to have a good time.  Hopefully, with the above 10 tips, you'll be able to enjoy the alcohol and musically-infused nightlife a little easier!

Related: Revenge Spend Time Baby!

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Financial Samurai has been online since 2009 and is one of the most trusted and largest independently-run personal finances today.

Readers, for those who like to go clubbing, any other tips you have to saving money?  I'm sure some of you will talk about how clubbing is a waste of money and you can have fun doing other stuff.  Yeah, yeah, we know.  But, this is our topic at hand. Do you have a clubber's guide to saving money?

62 thoughts on “The Clubber’s Guide To Saving Money And Having A Good Time”

  1. Cool tips, thanks for sharing. Hanging out at bars and clubs is fun but if you’re not careful, you will burn A LOT of money in one night. Tipping the bartender is a must if you want to build a good relationship with the club’s employees. Someone told me that as a bartender, they like to talk to people who tip a little bit more because they feel appreciated. Plus, generous people can ask for extra booze in their drinks for free.

  2. I will give u a tip; if u go to a club/lounge make sure u are placed next to a promoters table and order 3:1 whay is on the promoters table, then offer the girls with the promoter drinks, that way u pull them to your table and u can hook up with them.

  3. $500 min on bottle service, where was this in Queens? Dude any hot club that everyone wants to get into will be a min $1500 spend on the least desireable table. Everyone knows the bottle service in high end spots is not about pulling chicks but it’s about getting a seat in the club/lounge where everybody can afford to pay for bottles. You will usually walk in with ur own group of partygoers.

    The places u speak of or went to are low end spots for dudes that want to split a tab 6 different ways and they think bottles attract models.

    Bottom line if ur going to a bottle service spot, u are going to splurge so attempting to “save money” is kind of retarded and becomes evident and counterproductive to having fun.

    I pop bottles on the reg and yes certain clubs will give u preferential service or comp u every now and then or introduce u to certain people that are in the know but no matter how u look at it bottle service is guaranteeing u access for u and ur group to the club/lounges selective environment; that’s what u are paying for

  4. I like all tips you have given here! Most can be very funny ways to save money while clubbing but it can be very effective since personal appearance can be really deceiving!

  5. An an old man who still goes out myself (well, 30s…) this post made me smile. I’ve been guilty of ’rounding up’ women outside just to get into a club, too.

    The irony is that if you take any girls you’re actually seeing etc, you’ve got to spend the night watching them being approached by dozens of men.

    And maybe I’m impossibly dull and homely, but my desire to go to a club is inversely correlated with the proximity of a beautiful woman in my life.

    Give me one of those and I’ll happily spend the night in drinking hot chocolate with her. ;)

  6. Man, you pretty much hit it ALL on the head! Reading your blog had me reminiscing of how I did the downtown dc club scene… Now when I go out, I don’t pay cover to get into any clubs and quite frequently have drinks bought FOR me or given to me by friends, the club owner/manager or bartenders.

    NOTE: Bottle service is the way to go, BUT make sure to ask if the club has a table minimum (typically $300 to $750), because on certain nights the table minimums can be around $1,000 +/- and thats when the night start to get pricey!

  7. Money Reasons

    That is an awesome song and video!!! Being “Married with children” is much like the old TV show with respect for the potential to go clubbing…

    For the folks out in my area, it was pretty much just bars… “Bottle Service” is a new to me like some of the other commenter too…

    Thanks for filling us in! Sounds like something that would have been fun to partake in…

  8. Oh one thing I forgot is – there are often still ways to get into clubs without paying or waiting in line or having girls. One friend of mine from San Diego knew some kind of website where he could go and get me on the guest list for nearly any big club. I believe he got the website info and login from a club promotor he knew. He used it all the time.

    I was going to Vegas to meet him and others once and I was arriving the night before anyone else. He told me he put me on the list at Tao so I went and got in by myself for free with no waiting in line.

    There are other ways do to get in free and without waiting by networking and planning ahead a bit

    1. Some good tips Travis! A flask in the pocket with some heavy alcohol to drink in a corner or in the bathroom is a pretty crafty thing to do! That would be sweet to get access to a database to be put on all the lists… but how many people have that kind of access? Not many I know of.

  9. I didn’t read all the comments so forgive me if these were covered:

    1 – Do not buy drinks. Take a flask. When I first started taking a flask with me to bars I would drink out of it in the bathroom, in corners, or I’d sneak it into the one drink I’d bought. Now I just walk around and drink from the flask like I own the place. (thought if I notice a bar employee near me I’ll hold off for a second). I’ve drank from a flask in bars/clubs over a hundred times and never once had a problem. In terms of alcohol and how much I would’ve spent to drink that much, I “saved” a ton of money. People generally do not consider you a cheapskate for this. If the situation seems right, buy a drink. But 95% of the time you aren’t out of place drinking from a flask (As long as you’re comfortable doing it yourself. You’d really be surprised the things you can do or get away with that violate social norms or rules. People generally don’t question what you’re doing if you do them with confidence and as if they are just normal)

    2 – Don’t go to places with cover charges. If we’re talking just clubs, and just nice ones, this can be hard to avoid. At that point your #6 on the list helps – going early

    3 – Have rich friends. You’re going to have friends or at least try to, right? You’re going to go to clubs with friends, right? They might as well be loaded. One of my friends is very wealthy and also a serious clubber. Whenever I go out with him it is tables and bottle service. Most of the people he goes out with are also very wealthy and I make friends with them to. When I go to a club with him, I never have to pay for anything. He, or one of his friends, pays for the bottles. I don’t pay cover or buy any drinks. He doesn’t mind me not paying. He knows I don’t have as much money and I do not spend my money on things like drinks and bottle service. Of course you wouldn’t / shouldn’t choose your friends in order to mooch off of them… good friendship is more valuable.. but it sure doesn’t hurt to have friends like this.

    4 – Don’t buy bottled water. Ask nicely for tap water and tip them. If they refuse, drink water from the faucet in the bathroom sink. (turn on the water, hold your hand in the stream in a cup shape, drink from your hand and keep the water going). And you should be drinking water, especially if you’re getting drunk. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to drink from the faucet anyways rather than waiting for the bartender like a farm animal.

    5 – If you really like nightlife,.. develop a “thing”… There aren’t a ton of options but you could get creative and think of stuff…. I am also into a photography, so when I used to go out a lot, I got into nightlife photography. When you are good at nightlife photography and the business/networking side, you can make some money. I never got that far, but when I was out shooting – at worst I would have more fun than normal and meet more people (shooting in a club with a big camera gets a ton of girls coming up to you / gives you a good reason to approach any girl you want). At best, I got myself and my three male friends into a very nice club on South Beach on a friday night for free, with no waiting in line, and right after we got in we spoke to the club promotor and he gave us enough free drink cards to get 10 people drunk.

    6 – Ditto what someone said on the clothes relating to getting girls. You don’t need a $100 shirt or $200 jeans. Sure, they don’t hurt, but your personality and body language make 10x more difference. You just need clothes that match the atmosphere and fit you well. Being in good shape also helps.

  10. LOL. Those are good tips. Splitting a table has saved me and my friends a lot of money. It’s so much cheaper than parceling out money for every drink purchase.

  11. Roshawn @ Watson Inc

    This was never my scene nor that of most of my friends. Rather than old, this just makes me sound dull. Oh well… at least I have company!


  12. Love the post and the video, Sam. The wife and I have been rockin’ that song for a few weeks now. Love it. Great tips too. I second the light dinner rule. That’s probably a rule I should use every night regardless of if clubbing or not.

  13. Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer

    Your article makes me feel OLD! We went out to discos in my day and it didn’t seem like this much work…

  14. Wow–I have never been clubbing like this before! I used to go clubbing in Japan…but it was nothing like what you described. Bottle service…new vocab word:). Also, I never would have thought about making sure you have eye candy on your arms in order to get in. Nice post!

  15. UGH the infamous bottle service! I haven’t done it since the summer in Vegas for a bachelor party, but did it way too much growing up! I am only 20 mins outside NYC.

    Tip #11 Keep the Bottle Whores to a Minimum
    There are girls who are NOT there to meet someone but rather just want to pillage your/our 350 bottle of kettle…Kick them out of your chouch/table as soon as possible! lol unless they have cute friends (then you make them weak drinks)

      1. 100% but girls looking to have a fun time and hang out or have real fun with buddies (I am taken lol). I meant taking drinks and leaving or having no interest in a buddy.

  16. I agree 100% with the pre-partying before going out! This even applies for places to go out for dinner. I once out eating dinner with a friend recently, and the bottle of wine we were considering ordering was marked up 300% from the same bottle we saw in the store! Crazy!

  17. As a married guy, I’m forced to live vicariously through my younger brother. So I guess I have to pass the tips off to him.

    Shoot, I wouldn’t even know what to do in a club. And I’m only 30 years old. The last time I was in an American club, no one was dancing, except me. But boy do I miss the times when I was in Naples, Italy. All of these tips apply over there.

  18. I think Mike a The Financial Blogger has employed more than one of you, maybe 3 as I can see in these comments to spread your DoNotWait links! Gotta formalize a better game plan!

    1. The Financial Blogger

      hahahaha! that is funny! I guess this is what happen when you have 2 people working on the same blog and a guy who hires them not telling them they are making comments for the same blog ;-) hahahahaha! gotta love running this business…. Thx for the headsup Sam!

  19. Every Peso Counts

    Gosh, at a coffee shop right now and u really made me miss going out with friends. Oh yeah, I feel guilty for eating too much during night outs! I would even advocate ordering more food than drinks! Which my wife tells me… Is why I don’t get drunk…

      1. That is why I hate to have a huge dinner for a bachelorette party.
        What is the point then of going out afterwards?

  20. Remembering those good old days with our friends. Yap, we’ve done a few of those things as well. Going in early, getting to know people, and definitely becoming a regular. But I think I like that “pre-party” tip of yours.

  21. Greg McFarlane

    I was going to suggest “order Diet Coke all night”, but then I remembered that it’s impossible to have a good time without alcohol. Silly me.

    Sandy’s comments are largely right. The next hot chick I meet who pays for her own drinks will be the first.

  22. Oh man, that song is so catchy.
    Hmm for girls, I think the secret to get free drinks is to wear the Miraculous Bra from Victoria’s secret. lol that is a SUPER DUPER padded bra.

    I lived that lifestyle in my early twenties, late teens and dropped $60-80 a night every weekend. I’m so glad that it’s over now. I haven’t been to a club in a looong time.

    Or, you could hang out with baller friends who get table service and not pay for it yourself.

    the thing I hate is when you have to buy others a huge round (like when people take turns buying rounds)… can get expensive!

    1. Have you never heard of Like a G6 before? It rocks, and is pumping all over the place now it seems…. errr.. maybe only in the places I go.

      Shots for all! Goodbye $100! :)

  23. Sandy @ yesiamcheap

    Thank goodness the girls got to this post first. You guys are all depressing. Where’s the joie de vivre? The laissez le bon temps rouler attitude? For the record I bartended private parties while in grad school and my best friend was a bartender in college. How do I say, the mammary area helped the bottom line for both of us. I was above a low neckline and she wasn’t above a killer padded bra. Never waited on a club line in my life but alas now I’m in my sober 30’s so I’m with Charlie. If the job is buying, I’m drinking!

    1. Are you saying sex sells? I did mention in point #5 I agree!

      5) Bring eye candy. Let’s face it, fly girls get into clubs easier than hairy dudes. A bouncer would be crazy not to let four beautiful women enter, despite a long line since a club known for beautiful women will attract more money-spending men. If you’re with one of those ladies, you’re in. In fact, what you and your buddies can do is chat up the most beautiful looking women outside in the first place, offer to buy them a drink if they let you match up with them. Most of the time they will say yes.

  24. Haha awesome post. I cant remember the last time I went clubbing. I only drink now if the firm is buying :). Booze gets expensive super quick and Im much happier putting my money towards dinners out or to my gadget fund.

  25. DJ Sam- I used to live a similar lifestyle back in the day (although probably on a much smaller scale).

    To expand on one of your tips…one trick I’ve found at the bar (not clubs mind you)…..if you get there early is to leave huge tips for the first couple rounds when you have a chance to make friends with your server. I’m talking a $5 or $10 tip for two beers. Do that once or twice and you’ll get free drinks and premium service the rest of the night….the waiters and bartenders will seek you out….and in the end you’ll spend less and have more fun.

  26. Good advice since those young wippersnappers do piss away a fortune clubbin. My days ended pretty much outta college since I got married and had kids young – and I turned into an old fart quickly. but it’s refreshing to see this topic covered and its impact on finances. The several grand you spent – compound invested? Well, what the heck though, you only live once and that’s when you could do that stuff so perhaps money well spent.

    That’s another fringe benefit of living in a lower cost of living area though – you don’t end up “going to the city” all the time, dropping a few hundred bucks. partying locally is much cheaper.

    1. I definitely do not care at all about the lost potential savings or current wealth I would have accumulated then. It’s nothing in the scheme of things to the really fun times going out and having fun!

      Let’s saying you’re only making $100,000 in NYC….. frankly, it’s best to spend it ALL on all the great experiences (shows, events, etc) you can before you leave. 5-10 years from now, you’ll be making many multiples of that, and then you can save all you want.

  27. Great article sam. I can say that I’ve never been to a club (I prefer microbreweries and bars) but even then I’ve had a (very) few 100$ nights when I was younger. Once I knocked off that habit, My savings rate went waay up! I think pat has some good points too.

  28. Haha… The post made me smile. Fun post that brought back fun memories. And comments… Sandy, I totally agree with you. :-)
    In the past I used to do a lot of clubbing with friends. Not NY clubbing but Utah. Yeah… boooring. LOL But some of the rules that Sam mentioned still apply even here. We always would pre-party so we don’t have to spend much on drinks. And as far as guys go… we didn’t care how they look, as long as they were fun to hang out with and well… as long as they paid. LOL

      1. Ouch! This is not a question of trade. LOL It should not be expected. Why would a girl go out with a guy who doesn’t pick up a bill? Or who does pay only to get something in return? :-)

  29. Sandy @ yesiamcheap

    Ahhh Sam. You disappoint me. You’re looking at this from a guy’s perspective. Let’s get some tips for the ladies, shall we?

    1) Do your make-up. The bouncer does not want to let Shrek into the club
    2) Dress like you’re hot and own it. Hot chicks don’t stand on line to get into a club and you don’t want to be the standing on a club line in the heat or in the freezing cold. Plus, how great does it feel to walk up and get right in which is why,
    3) Cleavage and legs are your friend. Let’s face it, the girls and the gams will get you far in the arena. In fact they can even,
    4) Get someone else to buy drinks. If you’re hot enough, you only pay for your FIRST drink and then make sure you’re noticed enough to have someone else pay
    5) Leave your not cute friend at home unless she is the designated driver. Hot chicks hang with hot chicks but sometimes you have to take the “grenade” out too.
    6) Bottle service is something that MEN pay for. Don’t even think of open your purse to pay for bottles…that is, unless all of your girlfriends are chipping in. Because bottles will get you sloppy drunk in a heart beat and that is not sexy.
    7) Diddy says it best, “Preserve your sexy.”

    See how much you missed Sam? I’m disappointed.

    Oh yes, and If you’re over 30, you don’t want to be in a club, you want to be in a lounge. Otherwise you feel like the grandmother at a teeny bopper event.

    1. Oops! Will definitely have to post as Samantha next time from a woman’s perspective! At least I inspired you to write a post about the topic since you are clearly a clubber!

      I’ve got more juicy tips, but I think I would have some anti-something group against me so……. this is all I got boys and girls!

      1. Sandy @ yesiamcheap

        Shrek can totally party like a Boeing 747 ’cause she’s driving everyone else home.

    2. Hahahaha. I was always the guy that would go up to a girl, spark an exciting conversation with her, and just when she thought that I would pull out my wallet, I would instead ask her to buy ME a drink. It didn’t go over too well, though. But sometimes I was lucky.

    3. That’s hilarious! Nice job adding in those tips ;). I’d like to add that when you’re pushing 40, you don’t even want to be in the lounge, you’d prefer to be hosting your own private party.

  30. OK, I am glad you explained what bottle service was at the bottom, because I am not a trendy clubber and was clueless when I first read the term at the top.

    I have been to one club in my life, and it was in New York. I felt like a total idiot. The company my husband worked for flew a bunch of people in for Christmas. We went to Tavern on the Green and then went to some club. I remember it like it was a bad dream. I think I was 38 years old, but I felt like I was 400 because of all the young people in there. We were so out of place, I cannot even tell you.

    I prefer having a nice dinner or something over clubbing any day of the week. However, these do sound like good tips for the people in the world that are way more cosmopolitan than I!

    1. Ha! I hear yah. Bottle service actually makes the club like a lounge for you actually. Best of both worlds. Ask your daughter if you can tag a long next time she asks if she can go out til 1 am!

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