Frugal Socializing: Maintaining a Social Life on a Budget

According to The Canadian University Survey Consortium, in their 2015 annual report surveying 18,000+ graduating students from 36 Canadian universities, the average student owed $26,819 in debt!

This massive financial strain can affect students’ mental and physical well-being, their family and home life and the most sacred, most beloved, and most easily destructed aspect of their world…


With the University of Toronto’s tuition alone ranging between $6,220 and $13,620 for domestic students and between $38,460 and $43,540 for international students, I can understand why my fellow peers choose staying home and watching Netflix on a Friday rather than having a night out.

But…Now just listen for a second…

I have THE solution for maintaining an active social life while on a budget…


What is “Frugal Socializing”? It is attending events with friends (or alone… that’s cool too) outside of your university campus that cost very little and will breathe life back into your social life!!

Is it possible? YES! Can you do it? YES!
Are things going to be free? YES! Except when they’re not, but in those cases you won’t break the bank!
Are you dreaming? NO!
Did I make this term up? Maybe…
What do you need? More often than not, you’ll only need your student ID and some spare change for transit.

Often my friends and I face the tragic dilemma of wanting to have a social life but having no money to fund our nights out. Here I am, ready to share my frugal socializing discoveries with those of you in the same position.  Below are some of my favourite activities to start you on your journey to financial relaxation, intellectual restoration and social excitement:

6 FREE Things to Do to Stimulate Your Social Life
(and Your Intellect)


Where: Toronto
When: September 30th, 2017
Admission: Free to general public

For all you art enthusiasts, adventure seekers and night owls, Nuit Blanche is a fantastic opportunity for you to experience the city of Toronto as it transforms into an “artistic playground” for over 300 local and international artists. The event takes place from 7pm – 7am providing participants 12 hours overnight to travel across the city and check out contemporary art exhibits sworn to push you out of your comfort zone!

Me @ Nuit Blanche 2015
Death of the Sun, Director X: Nuit Blanche 2016 (Photo: Olivia Adamczyk, The Medium)


Where: 100 Queen’s Park, Toronto
When: Tuesdays 10am – 5:30 pm
Admission: Free for students attending a Canadian post-secondary institution. Just present your current student card + photo ID at the entrance.

Majoring in History? Fascinated by the ever changing culture of the world around us? The ROM is home to 30 galleries showcasing both natural and cultural histories. General admission is free for students on Tuesdays. Grab your friends and explore.Their current exhibitions feature a newly discovered dinosaur, First Nations contemporary art, and the flags of Asafo, the military companies within Southern Ghana. BONUS: Transportation is FREE for all UTM students. Hop on the UTM Shuttle to the St. George Campus and walk 9 minutes to reach the ROM.


Where: 327 Bloor St. W, Toronto
When: Thursday’s from 5-8pm
Admission: Pay what you can with a suggested donation of $5

Are you a sneaker head? Hope to pursue a degree in Fashion Design? Or just love a good pair of shoes? The Bata Shoe Museum will take you on a historical footwear journey through their 4 galleries home to artifacts including ancient Egyptian sandals, Terry Fox’s sneaker and even Marilyn Monroe’s red high heels. On Thursday nights, admission is encouraged through donation, but on every other day of the week students with school and photo ID get in for only $8.

Bata Shoe Museum


Where: 777 Laurence Avenue East, Toronto
When: Weekdays 9am – 5pm, Weekends 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free to the general public

Pursuing a career in biology? Love plants and wildlife? Are you an at-home botanist? Explore this indoor greenhouse and all the plant life it has to offer. Their collection ranges from cacti, to flowers, to towering banana trees. Dress wisely as the greenhouse maintains a fairly warm climate.

Succulent Wall @ Allan Gardens Conservatory


Where: Various Theatres across Toronto
When: April 27 – May 7 2017
Admission: Free for students with valid ID for showings before 5pm

This documentary festival showcases over 200 national and international films. By now, you have probably binge watched all your favourite episodes on Netflix and are looking for something new, so why not check out a Hot Doc Documentary? You have nothing to lose… it’s FREE! Last year, I saw a documentary on Frida Kahlo at the Isabel Bader Theatre located in U of T’s Victoria University.



Where: Upstairs in Lee’s Palace: 529 Bloor Street W, Toronto
When: Friday and Saturday Nights 9:00pm – 2:30am
Admission: Free for students 19+ with valid ID

You can enjoy live music and entertainment, along with drinks at The Dance Cave. DJs play retro and rock indie tunes to get the crowd on their feet. Become hungry throughout the night? The venue offers burritos and tacos from Big Fat Burrito.

Socializing on a debt-ridden student budget is not as difficult as you may think! You can start saving your money by trying these cheap – mostly free – social alternatives to expensive nights out.

And hey, saving your money now can go towards
paying off your education loans later!

Have I missed any of your crucial *frugal* social spots? How do you save money and maintain a social life? Tell me about some of your favourites in the comments below.

I’m feeling a bit adventurous but my bank account doesn’t look too promising… I’ll be waiting.

And remember, there is life beyond the textbooks too,



2 thoughts on “Frugal Socializing: Maintaining a Social Life on a Budget

  1. O♡A

    These are all such great ideas! With the winter season upon us soon (cries), I’m also looking forward to trying skating at Nathan Phillips Square. Something to cross off my bucket list 🙂


  2. Hey Jess! This is a great post. I love how passionate you are about this subject! I enjoyed the narrative, you made me feel like I was having a conversation with you and that really builds on the connection you would establish with students. The use of the personal pictures further enhances your credibility because you’ve actually been to and seen these places and the simple lay out and use of the list makes is super scannable. Great job.


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