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So You Spent All Your Money on Alcohol…

So you’ve turned 21. Happy birthday! You can now go to bars and buy your own booze at the liquor store.

Of course, by the end of the first two weeks of your totally legal life, you realize there’s a catch: all of this alcohol is really, really expensive. But fear not, Onward State is here to help. Here are some tips to help you save money at the bars.

Learn the Specials

Every bar has happy hours. Usually they have at least one special during the week that is phenomenal. Cafe’s $2 Teas on Wednesdays are delicious and $1 Coors Light drafts at the Phyrst are a pretty good deal — but that’s on Friday nights, so it’ll be crowded. And if you want to class it up some, Sam Adams pints are only $3 at Kildare’s on Fridays. Many bars also do half-off specials on most drinks at some point in the week.

You can better acquaint yourself with the various local bar specials here.

Arrive Early

Show up early enough and you may not have to pay a cover charge. It’s as simple as that.

Don’t Open a Tab

When you bust out plastic and open a tab, it gets real easy to forget how many drinks you’ve had and how much they’ll cost you. I’ve heard friends complain too many times that they blew through too much money by letting all those drinks rack up because they didn’t have to worry about paying for each one with cash. It’s a lot easier to watch what you spend when you can feel your wallet getting thinner. So when I go out I always bring plenty of cash with me, but no more than I’m willing to spend. That way I have a set cap before I even leave my apartment. And let’s face it, once you’re there, you’re not going to want to leave to hit an ATM.

Have Boobs

Just kidding. Kind of. But seriously, how many times have you seen some chump buy an attractive young lady a drink? Okay, maybe not that often around here, being a town full of poor college students, but it is one of the oldest pickup techniques in the book. And there’s nothing wrong with that. So ladies, don’t be afraid to dress to impress. Catch a few eyes and you might find yourself a free drink or two. Flirting with bouncers/bartenders may also prove fruitful. And running with that train of thought…

Know a Guy

And by that I mean get buddy-buddy with a bouncer. If you know someone who works at a bar, they might be able to help you out by getting you in free. But you didn’t hear that from us…


Ah, the age-old State College tradition. Drinking before you go out to drink. When it gets cold enough out, you’re going to need a beer jacket to make it to a bar anyway, so you may as well practice while the weather is still bearable. Get a few drinks in you before you go out and you’ll find you don’t need as much while you’re there. Don’t get too wasted, though, because if you’re falling all over yourself there’s a chance they’ll turn you away for fear of penalties from the PLCB.

Some alternative (and sneaky!) methods for getting free drinks come to us from @ChadwickLynch.

The first, primarily for the guys, is to convince a girl you have better taste than her. Then get her to prove you wrong by buying you a drink. Also sounds like a great pickup line to me.

Another one bends the truth a bit more. Get a group of friends together to go out with. Designate one of them as the “birthday boy/girl” for the night. At each bar, get random people to buy your friend drinks for his “birthday.” Hit a different bar each week with this game plan, switching the role of the birthday person each time.

Alternatively, you could just stop drinking so much. Ha, just kidding.

Do you have any advice on saving money on booze? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

Matthew D'Ippolito

I'm a senior majoring in print journalism with minors in political science and music technology. I'm from the small town of Pennsburg, about an hour north of Philly. I hope to one day work as a music reporter for Rolling Stone. I am single and looking to mingle.


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