The Cheapskate's Guide To Summer

Your season can be less expensive

Words: Kale Shayde | Illustrations: Lucy Rose Currie

Summer is expensive. Sure, you’re probably buying some gifts around this time of year, but they're not blowing the budget: it’s the little things. It’s the parties, the party looks, the Ubers, the big days, and the fact that your friends who moved to another country are back in town, balling on that Pounds-at-the-Pot-Luck-Club budget, expecting you to join in. To paraphrase a great poet of our time, just because everybody is home for the summer, there isn’t necessarily any need to do anything illegal, but there are a few shamelessly cheap ways of thinking that are going save you this summer. Spoiler: “leave your wallet at home” is not one of them, because you are not a terrible person, and because this is the age of Snapscan and cellphone banking and you’re not going to get away with it.

Make free drinks predrinks

Book launch? Gallery opening? The free wine is sure to be flowing. Make it your first stop of the night and you’re pretty sorted for the greater part of the evening’s expenses, and free snacks aren’t out of the question either. By the way, this is going to mean getting to events on time: rolling in to First Thursdays at 10:30 just won’t cut it, so an unexpected byproduct of this is that you may actually get to appreciate some art rather than arriving after the galleries have closed and heading straight to a place where the signature drink is an R85 candyfloss cocktail*.

Plan more get-togethers

Okay, so this one’s basic maths. If you need to catch up with four people, going out with four of them means that you pay for four meals. Going out with all of them at once means that you pay for, you guessed it, one meal. Unless you’re dealing with mortal enemies or a best friend you’re counselling through finding out that her fiancé has another family in another country** – go on and get the gang together.

Party round at your place!

You already know that it’s going to be cheaper than your neighbourhood’s newest artisanal craft beer cocktail bar, but home has more going for it as a venue than you think. When the party’s at home – specifically your home – you also save on Ubers. No-one objects to bringing their own drinks, and if you’re in luck, they'll have two doubles and leave the rest of the bottle for you. All that’s left to do is spruce up your place for the season, and let your guests stock up the bar.

Take it outside

Did we mention that it’s summer? Hikes are nice. The beach is nice. You’ll get some vitamin D, a tan if you’re disadvantaged melanin-wise, and some variety for your Instagram feed (because no-one needs seven group portraits with the caption “These humans! <3” in a row).

Learn to turn down an invitation

 This is the simplest piece of advice in here, but also the hardest task to master. Your friend Tatiana from high school who wants to meet up every time she’s in town to talk about how well work is going in London, and how she doesn’t miss South Africa and all the crime? She can probably actually live without seeing you for overpriced drinks (“I’m so lucky with the exchange rate!” says Tatiana). You’ll be left with a clear schedule and full pockets for people you actually like.

Make it up as you go along

If you’ve got a big night out planned or are just heading somewhere a little more formal than you’re used to, make time in your itinerary for a stop at a mall makeup counter – one of the ones that offer free trials. You’ll come away looking your glitziest, and if the makeup artist gets her way you’ll also buy a few products. I can’t help you with that kind of temptation – I can only wish you luck, and assure you that as most people will succumb to it, the makeup counter is doing just fine out of the deal.

Free trials: not just for Tidal

You know the routine: sign up for a music streaming service or Netflix and you’ll get the first month for free, then cancel before the first payment date rolls around. Well, guess what? This works IRL, too. If you’re trying to tone up so you can fit into your favourite skirt of last summer, or just feel a little more energetic when the sun’s coming up earlier, check out the first-few-sessions-free plan in place at your local yoga studio or at another place of exercise of your choice.*** The best part? You won’t forget to cancel and accidentally pay a large sum into Jay and Bey’s bank account.

Practice loyalty and appiness

Even if you’re kind of person who consistently loses their Kauai smoothie card when you’re only one sticker away from the free drink, apps are here to help out. If you’re addicted to a franchise like Col’Cacchio or, yes, Kauai, you’re in luck – they have their own apps. If you love trying new spots, try The Entertainer – which gets bonus point for carrying only two-for-one deals, so there’s very little that’s hard to wrap your head around.

Gift Wisely

Remember how we mentioned that Christmas gifts aren’t going to be the only things that threaten to bankrupt you this season? That doesn’t mean that they’re not a threat. I’m going to go ahead and advise you to “make them yourself”, but don’t panic – when I say “make”, I mean “assemble”. Pinterest fails happen to the best of us, so a compromise is necessary: there’s no need to make coconut ice and fudge from scratch, but buying loads of packets of the stuff works out way more cheaply. Next, choose how manic pixie dream girl you want to go, and get to work: put your friends’ favourites in a cute little jar, wrap up a small gift and a packet of sweets in wrapping and twine or something, or just head right back to Pinterest and do some kind of complicated wrapping tutorial if that’s your thing. Your presence is the present, but how you present your present says a lot, too.

* It has actual candyfloss in it.

** I’ve met this girl. Don’t worry, she’s doing fine now.

*** I have little first-hand knowledge of exercise.