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Here's how I went out for $20 or less—three nights in a row

Posted by Karyn Polewaczyk  May 6, 2013 04:30 PM

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Last week, I challenged myself to a weekend on the cheap, where I’d ideally spend no more than $20 each night out. Even though I had well-thought out plans in place that would almost guarantee my ability to stick to my budget, I was nervous: I tend to wax spontaneous, and, admittedly, I have a taste for decadence in small doses that can quickly add up.

I’m pleased to announced that not only did I succeed, I exceeded my own expectations by spending a total of just $49.45 over the course of three days. Of course, a bit of creativity is helpful—as is having friends in the right places—but I’ve proved it’s possible. Here’s how I did it, complete with photographic evidence (compliments of this writer) for inspiration.


There is a secret to going out on the cheap while allowing oneself to imbibe, and though I might be spoiling it for the other insiders in the know on this delicious secret, I’m sharing it, anyway: get on the guest list for art galleries across the city, and/or make friends with lots of artists.


Wine, snacks, and a chance to network with arts’ professionals: all free. In this case, I saw the photographer David Elmes’ inaugural exhibition at a former warehouse space in South Boston.


After schmoozing for about an hour, my friend and I decided to segue further into Southie to one of my favorite spots, Local 149, for nosh and gossip. Unfortunately, the rest of the city got the memo, and the wait was longer than our appetites could whet. So, we did what any two women dressed in designer duds would do: we went to a sports bar and ordered salads with lemon water.


Total spent: $17.45 (I walked to the exhibit from my office in the Seaport District, and caught the bus home from the bar)


Another tip that’s not quite as secret: if you write—and specifically, if you write about going out—you’ll wind up on the media list for essentially every PR shop in town with offers to attend various openings.


I’d met the lovely Rina Peselman at a book launch party earlier in the year, and when she asked if I wanted to check out her client, the artist Ari Hauben’s, exhibit on Saturday evening, I jumped at the chance.


Coincidentally, a former flame had inquired around the same time if I wanted to meet him for a drink. Being the newly thrifty gal I am, I decided to combine the two ventures, which meant a free Uber black ride over to the gallery, and someone to keep me company as I wandered the space, complimentary wine and whiskey in hand.



To repay the favor, I covered his cover charge when we moseyed (read: walked) over to Good Life to kick up our heels (or loafers, in his case) later in the night. He got the champagne, ‘cause that’s the kind of chivalrous guy he is.


Total spent: $22 (two $5 cover charges, plus a $12 cab ride home—alone—when the witching hour came, because the past stays in the past (and because I had to wake up early to look at an apartment on Sunday morning))


This isn’t really a suggestion as much as it is a rule, but seriously—be nice. That applies especially when you’re out at night, where having an in with a manager or doorman can mean the difference between dancing up a storm or waiting in an hour-plus long line.



I’ve been a fan of Alibi at the Liberty Hotel since it opened in 2007, and as a result, I’ve built up relationships with the staff. When you treat them well, they’ll treat you well in return. In this case, it was in the form of an invitation to a Cinco de Mayo party—complete with open bar and friends—on a patio-perfect day.




Total spent: $10 (a cash tip for the bartender; I took the T to and from the hotel)

Grand tally: $49.45

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About this blog

Karyn Polewaczyk lives and writes in Boston, and believes that heading out into that good night, like any adventure, begins with the first step. Let's Go Out is a conversation about dating and nightlife in our notoriously chilly city, with first-hand tips from the trenches. Karyn's writing, which focuses largely on women's lifestyle topics, has appeared in the Weekly Dig, Jezebel, xoJane, Northshore Magazine and, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @KarynPolewaczyk.

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