Budgets are a great thing financially speaking, but they certainly make life seem a lot less fun. Turning down invitation after invitation, forgoing events, skipping fun outings and staying home eating the same boring meals night after night can really cramp your style and put you in a foul mood. Too bad, though; because you are on a budget. You can’t have any fun. All your money is accounted for, and you’re stuck with the life you’re living until something changes, right? Kind of, maybe; but not entirely. You see, you can still have fun on a budget, but you have to know how to make that happening without blowing it.
I’ll start by saying that if you simply do not have the additional money to do anything fun, you either have to forgo or find a way to make more money. You cannot live beyond your means, or you completely negate the fact that you’re living on a budget. If you cannot pay cash for it, don’t spend money on it. Now, let’s get to figuring out how you can budget, live within your means and still have fun. After all, the fastest way to break the budget and fall from financial grace is to deprive yourself completely. Just ask anyone on a strict diet how complete deprivation has been going for them.
If you’re on a budget and looking to save money, the best thing you can do is let your friends and family know. If you don’t tell them you’re on a budget, you’re more likely to want to accept their expensive invitations and spend money. Telling them you’re on a budget is a great way to prevent spending additional money seeing as how they might suggest doing something a lot more affordable, instead. At the very least, they won’t think you’re avoiding them turning down all their invitations to go anywhere at any time.
If you really want to go see a movie, go to a matinee in the middle of the day or choose a movie at the dollar theater. Pack snacks in your bag – it’s not allowed, but that’s what big bags are for and most everyone does it – and go for nothing. You could save upwards of $30 to $50 if you go and do it this way rather than going during the evening when it’s date night and everything is more expensive.
The same goes for dinners and other meals. Instead of going out later at night, go to dinner early when the early dinner menu is still a lot less expensive. Additionally, see if you can plan dinner around happy hour so you can order drinks from that menu and save big time.
Instead of a big, fancy dinner at a pricey restaurant, ask your friends if they want to have a dinner at your house and everyone brings their own fancy dish and bottle of wine. This way you’re all only responsible for spending as much or as little as you want, and no one has to go over the budget; but you still get to pick fancy foods and have a good time regardless. That’s what we love about this one.
In our city, for example, we have several annual events that are fun, cheap or even free if you want them to be. There is no admission to pay, but you can choose to spend money on things. For instance, we have an annual pirate festival on the water where people take their boats out, dance, partake in wine and beer tastings around the shops and restaurants, and just have a good time. You can buy a full plastic solo cup of your favorite beer for something like $2, and it’s super inexpensive. I’m willing to bet your area does the same type of thing on occasion, and it’s a great way to go out.
If your budget does not have a fun account, add one now so long as you have the money for it. This is an account you put a little bit of money into each pay period that you can use for fun when you feel the need. I love the idea of making this a once a month date night account, or a fun at a concert account. It allows you to occasionally splurge on yourself without actually depriving yourself completely. It’s easy to do when you make it a habit, and it’s even more fun to sit back and watch yourself have fun and stick to your budget. Go over your funds, see what you can afford to apply to this, and make it happen. It’s easier than you might think.