Living on your own for the first time and finding out that you have no money for fun activities can be a hard pill to swallow. There are so many bills that can sneak up on you if you’re not careful. Sometimes it’s hard to find time to have a little fun every now and then without feeling bad for spending money. There are three things that you can budget so that if you want to buy yourself a pair of boots for fall, it doesn’t demolish your bank account. If you can save on entertainment, gas, and groceries you’ll be in better shape, literally.
Entertainment is the first expense that is hard to cut back. Everyone loves to do things in their free time like concerts or shopping. In my case, it’s crafting. Those things are certainly fun, but not always necessary. When money is tight, you have to pull out your creativity and do things that are free. Yes, there are things to do into your town that are free. Look up in the newspaper or online at the free events taking place in your city. You’ll be surprised how many there are. You can head to your local art museum or city library, both of which are free to residents. You’ll learn something new and have a lot of fun. There are tons of great parks that available to you, too. Pack a lunch and bring your dog and have a great day outside. Going to the movies can ultimately cost you about $20 just to have an enjoyable evening. Instead, have a movie night at home with friends or family. There are new sources for renting movies for as little as one dollar a night. These techniques, as well as others, can really help you when you’re on a tight budget. Consider these options or create some of your own.
Gas prices aren’t like they used to be and I don’t know about you, but I hate leaving the house. We can’t all go out and buy an energy-efficient vehicle but there are ways you can stop filling up every single week. Find gas stations that aren’t brand names, such as Shell and BP. The local owned stations get their gas for a cheaper price because it doesn’t have all the chemicals in it. If you have a Sam’s or Costco membership, than you can also save a couple of cents on your gas. Carpool whenever possible. If you and three other friends are going to the mall, ride together. Avoid making extra trips out for little things. Try to take one day and run all your errands on that day. Take the interstate when possible; you’ll save on gas by limiting the stop’s and go’s of a city street. Gas prices will probably not ever make it down to a dollar a gallon, but cutting out on time in the car can really help you when you’re on a tight budget.
Who doesn’t love to eat? Eating out is one of my favorite things to do, but going out every week is not a necessity. Instead, plan for one date night with your significant other or a fun girl’s night one night out of the month. That way you can have a somewhat expensive dinner if you choose and you’ll appreciate it more because you saved. During the day, pack your lunch. This is where being in “good shape” comes in. You will not only save a lot of money, but you’ll be a lot healthier too. When buying groceries, use as many coupons as you can, buy in bulk, take advantage of BOGO opportunities, and look for generic products. Stop buying snack foods instead of meals. Prepare a week’s dinner in advance and buy everything when you go to the store. There are ton of websites to find coupons and recipes that are easy to use. When it comes to food, it’s hard to say no, but do you really need those Debbie cakes?
Living on a budget is tough but when you’ve been eyeing those fall boots, they seem worth it in the end because you had the money to spend and money after for bills. In retrospect, saving will make your happier and less stressed in the end. Kim Roach, author of The Optimized Life said it best, “Living on a tighter budget simply requires you to add a bit of creativity to your financial planning and daily expenses. There are plenty of ways to live life on the ‘cheap’ without feeling like you’re pinching every penny.”