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How to ring in the new year without completely blowing your budget

When New Years Eve rolled around last year, Brigitte Truong was nestled in a cozy cabin with loved ones.

It was quite the change for the Toronto-based multimedia host and producer who has spent many New Years Eves on the club dance floor, at ticketed parties or at celebrations thrown at a friend’s home. And the cabin getaway came with an extra surprise: it wasn’t as expensive as Truong imagined.

“It was one of the most affordable New Years I have ever had,” she says.

“We split the cost between the eight of us for one weekend. We each paid like $110 and that’s not just for the cottage. It was also for alcohol and food.”

Truong’s cabin experience, her years of New Years Eve parties and her penchant for being a “haggler” mean she’s picked up plenty of financial tips for ringing in another new year.

Fancy parties at clubs, bars and restaurants can easily add up to just as much as her getaway, if not more, and they only last for a few hours, she says. Tickets will often set you back about $50 or more. Truong says bottle service is usually minimum $200 and even if you forgo it, drinks will still cost roughly $10 each. Some venues will also increase menu item prices for the evening, tack on minimum spend requirements or add fees or mandatory tipping rates to bills.

Then there’s the price an outfit, if you don’t already have something to wear, and the cost of travelling to your party.

To save, Truong recommends looking for tickets about a month and half before the big day, when venues have early bird specials. She also suggests trawling Eventbrite, or for advance and last-minute deals.

If dropping that much cash on a ticket isn’t in your budget, look for free, public events most cities throw or try smaller parties, Truong suggests.

“I found that smaller venues that had maybe a $10 cover or no cover at all were an infinitely better time,” she says. “They’re more intimate and not as chaotic, so you can get your drink a lot faster.”

When drinking alcoholic beverages, you can often keep your tab down by avoiding cocktails and sticking to beers or house wines. Taking public transit, which often is free on New Year’s Eve, and borrowing an outfit from a friend or taking advantage of Boxing Day sales, if you’re keen on buying one, can help decrease costs too.

If you want to copy Truong’s cabin idea, she suggests hunting for affordable rentals on Airbnb and booking ahead of time, so you’re not stuck without a place to go. Decide early how much you’re willing to spend and factor in food and gas to keep everything within your budget.

But Truong also reminds people that they shouldn’t feel the pressure to go out or overindulge on the night — a lesson her getaway reminded her of.

“Spend it with people you care about most and don’t worry about spending money,” she says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 24, 2019.

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press

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