No one likes spending more than they have to. From an “accidental” splurge to overspending on groceries, it never results in a nice feeling.
It can be gut-wrenching!
Over the years, I’ve learned that entertainment is one of those areas where I can bleed money… and fast! If I’m not careful, our budgeted monthly allowance can quickly fade!
As I get a little older (and wiser!), I’ve learned though that you don’t always have to spend money to have a good time. Finding unique ways to spend time with friends without spending tons of money has been a challenge my wife and I have recently embraced!
As I have mentioned before, my wife and I are living on one income as she pursues her education. This has caused us to recalculate how we spend our money and be more choiceful in where it goes.
It is surprising in how many ways we have found to save money while still being social and not feeling like we are stuck at home. We don’t feel like we are missing out on anything. We plan on continuing this way of living even after she returns to work.
I challenge you NOT to spend ANY money on entertainment for the next week… or heck, if you’re ambitious, even a month!
This may sound daunting but it’s easier than you think! I have listed some things that we have done that are both fun, and free 🙂
Free date nights
If you are in a relationship, there are often many date nights at restaurants. Eating out can be costly.
Even if you eat at less expensive places, you are still spending money that you could otherwise be saving. (Eating out less often has also added benefits on my waistline 😉
Why not make a coffee or tea and go for a walk. We’ve invested in a premium espresso machine so we can get the full experience right at home (and I swear, with the frother, it’s just as good!)
In the summer, there are a lot of beautiful parks and beaches to hang out in, and in the winter (like the -15C we are experiencing in Ontario), bundle up and go skating. And if that’s just way too cold for you, go for a short drive and park at a lookout point (if you have one).
Related post: Don’t overspend and save your money
Go straight home after work
5-7pm is a dangerous time for me. Ask my wife… if not careful, I can get hangry.
Rather than hitting the drive-thru on the way home, I challenge you to avoid the temptation! Go straight back. Avoid the grocery store, avoid the snack bar, avoid any fast food. Pull yourself together and go right home. Shopping while hungry means you’ll get a grocery cart full of things you don’t need, and fast food isn’t entirely healthy.
And lastly, for those that hit the bar after work for a pint, be choiceful in when you go. It’s true that networking opportunities are important, so you shouldn’t entirely pass these up… but just don’t make it a regular thing. There’s no need to make excuses… be honest that you are on a budget or saving money. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t respect that idea.
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Do something for yourself
During your “no –spend” time, take these moments to do something for yourself. Is there a book that you have wanted to read? Have you been meaning to clean out your closet? Is there a blogger that you’ve wanted to subscribe to? Whatever the case, now that you are trying to avoid spending, take the time to do these things that don’t cost you a dime!
Eat from and empty out your pantry and freezer
If you have decided to avoid spending money, challenge yourself to eat what you have in your pantry or freezer. We all have food that is at the back of the cabinet that never sees the light of day. I’m sure you bought it thinking that one day you will eat it… well that one day is now!
This is a good way of creating space for new food that of course, you’ll buy on sale 🙂
- The one thing people forget most when budgeting
- Why budgets actually give you more freedom, not less
Invite friends over
No one is saying that you can’t be social on a budget!
Instead of going out, why not just invite people over? Many of us have coffee, tea or other beverages on hand to serve guests that won’t break the bank.
(And even if you do go all-out, it’s a lot cheaper than a restaurant!)
Pull out a board game or put on a sports game and enjoy the night…and if they offer to bring something, even better! Any snack is better than nothing!
BONUS IDEA: If you are anxious about offering food, invite people over AFTER dinner. This way, at most you can get by with just appetizers!
Use your points/gift cards
Do you have gift cards lying around? Or points or coupons for places that you want to go? This is a bit of cheating, but if you’re really desperate to do something that costs you money, then see if you have “free” money around.
Even if you don’t have any points, maybe this is the time to explore which cards can benefit you. My wife has the Starbucks app and loads money into the app. Through the purchases she makes, she collects points and eventually gets enough for a free drink. Starbucks also offers a free drink for your birthday. In fact, we went on a date night recently and cashed in on two free drinks! (One through her points and one for her birthday).
BONUS IDEA – Spend your time giving back and volunteering
In my opinion, this should be a regular occurrence. Look for opportunities to serve others. There are so many centers that serve community dinners that need help serving and cleaning or maybe sort food at a food bank. There are many different volunteering opportunities in every community. Find what works for you and get out there. Your time is so valuable to others.
There are many ways to give back and really appreciate the value of money and time. You don’t NEED to spend money every day.
If you decide to take on this challenge, get creative! There are many ways to enjoy life without spending money.
Think it through
- Where do you feel you excessively spend and can cut back?
- What can you do to cut your entertainment budget this month?
- Have you explored your own community thoroughly (there might be some hidden gems there to check out!)
- How not to overspend and save money
- The one thing most people forget when budgeting
- Why budgeting actually give you more freedom, not less
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