Having a game night with your friends has become so uncool that it’s actually cool again. Invite your friends over to play board games and act surprised when they each bring a bottle of wine. In return for hosting, you get to drink for free all night! Hell, you might even get to eat for free too. People are so self-conscious about being a good guest these days that they often go above and beyond in their generosity. Donate your apartment for a night of cheap fun and live like a king!
Total cost: $0, I mean how much did Monolopy cost when you bought it in 1992?
Equivalent: $20-$50 for going out with your friends to dinner and a movie.
“Visit” your friend in another state
Talking on the phone might seem too “the year 2006,” but get over it because chances are you have friends and family you need to call back. If you call up your best friend who lives 3,000 miles away, it will take up your whole night. Why do you think you’ve been waiting so long to call them back to begin with? The conversations are so long! You need to schedule it in just like you would with a normal IRL hang out. Touching base with a best friend you haven’t talked to in forever is not only fun and makes you feel good, it’s also stupid cheap. So save some money by being a good friend and start dialing your night away.
Total cost: $0, assuming your friend doesn’t live in Prague and your phone can handle long-distance phone calls
Equivalent: $5-$500. Plane tickets can be really expensive. Just use the phone for now.
The home spa
Who needs a fancy spa when you have your very own bathtub with glamorous warm water?! Here’s how you can luxuriate for free! Fill your bathtub halfway full of water and make it soapy. Sit down in the tub while moaning audibly. Turn on the shower. Sit there, under the shower. Wash everything slowly. Brush your teeth, shave, drink a beer. Leave your conditioner in for an unreasonable length of time. Gargle water. Sing. Be warm. Turn off the shower and towel yourself off; stay in the locked bathroom for longer than necessary. Go to your room and turn on your space heater. Put on underwear and sit next to the space heater. Get in bed — make sure your bedding is extra clean — and watch Mad Men for the rest of the night. Wake up the next morning refreshed.
Total cost: $0, unless you pay for water, in which case our wild guesstimate is between $0 and $5.
Equivalent: $30 – $150 at the spa.
The solo night
Tonight you need to decide that it’s okay that you’re alone — that being alone does not necessitate doom, despair, and a life of unsatisfaction. Tonight you need to decide that you’re not going to worry that you’re not flirting with your preferred sex. Instead you need to work on yourself. Find the book that your smart friend lent you which you’ve been meaning to read because it’ll make you a better person. Don’t look at the laptop. Forget about the laptop. Read over 100 pages of the book. Feel like a better person for focusing for a few hours. Now it’s laptop time.
Equivalent: $20 – $40 at the bar, pretending like you’re reading, hoping someone will approach you.
Put on some mood music, maybe the Weeknd or, if it’s that kind of night, Sade or Portishead. Log into your online dating account and start chatting with whoever happens to be online. If you don’t have an account, throw a quick profile together — one that says, “I’m not above online dating, but I am above spending more than fifteen minutes answering these essay questions.” It’ll make you seem mysterious. Do not mention how broke you are — no one cares. If you’re averse to online dating, opt for the more traditional Craigslist personal ad. Spend the night fielding emails from strangers you’ll never meet offline.
Total cost: No more than your monthly internet bill would’ve been anyway — bonus points if you latch on to your neighbor’s unsecured network for free.
Equivalent: $5 – $50 for a dutch date.
Empty your refrigerator of all perishables: bananas, leftover lo-mein, milk, whatever. Combine everything in a large saucepan and heat on low. Don’t be afraid to add spices or canned goods — if people were afraid of creativity in the kitchen, Asian-fusion would’ve never happened. Poke the contents of the saucepan with a spoon until the combined product looks edible. Enjoy your stir-fry.
Total cost: $0, future hospital bills notwithstanding.
Equivalent: $8-$25 for a decent dinner for one.