It is perfectly possible to save money on 'luxuries' such as clothes shopping or going out for dinner, meaning that even in the current economic climate you can allow yourself a few treats. The important thing is to plan in advance, and set yourself a strict weekly (or 'per item') budget, as this will help you to avoid overspending or living beyond your means. Use our weekly budget calculator to work out what you need, and where you are planning to go during the week. When you know what you should expect to spend, take this money out of the cashpoint at the start of the week, take out only as much as you need with you on a night out, and leave the plastic at home. If you would prefer not to be without your card on an evening out, keep it with you but keep it separate from your money and agree with yourself that it is strictly to be used for emergencies.
If you normally meet friends over dinner in a restaurant, suggest that you host an evening instead. Cooking for a group of people will usually cost you much less than even one meal in a restaurant, when you have factored in tips, and extras such as bottled water. People will generally bring a bottle of wine with them, or something for dessert if nobody is drinking. Alternatively, keep an eye out for vouchers and discounts in restaurants â€“ and remember the golden rule: it is good value if you were planning to go there anyway, but the voucher has tempted you into an unnecessary night out, you have not saved anything! Of course, if you are struggling to pay the bills, you should be strong enough to refuse a night out or a new dress until you have met your financial commitments - this way you avoid getting into a vicious circle of bank charges and late repayment fees. Read through the Budgeting articles on this website for useful money-saving tips and ways of treating yourself without breaking the bank.