Shared by Courtney Hale
Full disclosure, I struggled crafting this post. My expert perspectives typically originate from a place of experience and mastery. However, the tips in this post, come from a place of experience only! I have to admit that my financial savvy has not always been present when I’m having a good time. Therefore, I’ll serve myself as a sacrificial lamb of sorts with a few short stories of my personal fails to ensure you don’t break the bank the next time you hit the streets of Nashville.
1. Separate but unequal checks please.
At the end of a nice dinner, our waiter politely informed our large party of about 15 that the restaurant was unable to provide no more than 4 checks for large parties. So, I bawsed up and did what I thought any of my homies would have been willing to do. I put the entire bill on my card, told the group we’d split the check evenly and they could repay me later that night. When the time came to run me my coin, an arithmetic problem became a history lesson, an algebra problem and a lesson in taxation. I ended up short $150 above the cost of my meal. During the same weekend, another guy was shorted $200 after covering the tab at the club.
Don’t be the capable and nice friend. Just be the capable friend. Request separate but unequal checks and only pay for what you consume. Manage the check the same way you manage your energy bill. Homeowners in the same community have never told the energy company to split the bill evenly for the neighborhood. And don’t front the bill for large parties. Even our smartest friends won’t calculate sales tax correctly. Mobile apps like groupME, Splitwise, Billr, Divvy and Venmo make sharing costs very easy.
2. It’s ok to ask questions.
Once, I recklessly, accidentally ran up a $235 dinner bill with my wife because I ordered a wagyu beef filet that cost $140. I didn’t know the steak cost that much when I ordered it because it was labeled as “market rate” on the menu. I used terrible logic to estimate the cost of the steak when I could have simply asked for the price on the front end. I failed miserably at impressing my wife with my captivating intellect.
If you are kicking it on a budget, below are a few questions that need answers before you commit to a night in the streets of Nashville:
“Where are we going?” So you can plan accordingly. If it’s a surprise, someone else better be paying.
“What’s the occasion?” Because if you’re going to compromise your spending plan, it needs to be for something special.
“Who’s going?” Because everyone can’t appreciate you wanting separate but unequal checks.
“What time?” Because happy hour or brunch may fit in the budget, but dinner will depend on the restaurant and whether there are shareables on the menu.
“Who’s paying?” This one is obvious.
3. Ramp up your community engagement.
Nashville offers an array of fundraising events for its not-for-profit community. Fundraising in Nashville can be a lot of fun, but also very expensive. Tickets for the galas and open bar networking events can cost as much as a couple hundred bucks. You can bypass the cost of admission by serving on the board of an organization, serving on the host committee or volunteering at a fundraising event. Whether it’s popping corks on bottles of wine, assisting with registration at a luncheon or distributing water during a 5K, volunteering provides a great opportunity to connect with friends, invest in the community and save some money in the process.
You have to be proactive when recommending volunteer opportunities as social outings with friends. You have to recommend the volunteer opportunity BEFORE anyone else recommends TopGolf or one of those paint and sip events. It’s a wrap for manning a water station during the Music City Marathon if your recommendation comes after one of your pawtnas recommends falling thru ONE Musicfest.
What Nashville is missing in affordable housing, it makes up for in free and/or cost-effective entertainment. It only takes intentionality, patience and a bit of creativity to make fun inexpensive.
Here are a few budget-friendly social events from knowledgeBANK #hopedealer, wealth manager and yoda of all things cool, Jarrett Strickland.
And it seems that every weekend during the summer there’s a festival or food truck convention in Centennial Park.
Lastly, don’t forget to take my 8-question survey. I’m working on something dope for urban professionals and their money.
Courtney Hale is a financial literacy advocate and founder of the Knowledge Bank brand