Saving money is hard to do: A survey last year by GOBankingRates found that 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. If you’re trying to save money, that’s great; however, you may be finding that you have had to cut out some of the fun parts of your old lifestyle. Saving money does mean being more careful with your budget and weighing how you spend your money, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun.
If you are constantly broke, make sure you are not paying your bills late, ignoring your savings, lending money too often or without carefully considering your decision, or relying on credit. On the other hand, if you simply want to save more for the future, then once you can afford to put some money away, turn your focus toward finding fun ways to enjoy yourself even while you also save money for the future.
1. Have a staycation
Staycations are a fun and affordable way to take a break from work without spending a ton of money. If you’re choosing to skip a big vacation to save money, but if you still have a bit to spend, consider just getting takeout a few nights or eating out a few times; visit your favorite museum or movie theater, or see a local sporting event (you may have an easier time finding something nearby if you live in one of the best cities for staycations). If you prefer to spend little or no money at all, you may find that staying inside at home with your partner can allow you to really spend quality time together that you don’t usually have. Whether you’re single or not, plan to read some books, catch up on your favorite television shows, and get together with friends.
2. Start a club or group
Do you love to read? You may want to start up a reading group so you can meet with friends to discuss the books you read together; you can spend little to no money if you meet for snacks, include a potluck, or simply exclude food altogether and meet at members’ homes so that you don’t need to pay restaurant or meeting fees. If you prefer to run, or you enjoy photography, you could start a running club or meet friends to take photos together. If you already have friends who share your interests, you can simply nail down a time to meet. If you want to reach out to others, sites like Meetup.com are a great way to start a group.
3. Check out your community
Your local community may have more free or inexpensive events than you could ever imagine. Many cities and towns host free concerts in the park, free or inexpensive theater productions, inexpensive sporting events, and also different festivals. Many events are free, but you have to pay extra for food or purchasing goods, so simply pack a snack and go explore the different events. You can usually find something related to your own interests too: Art fairs, concerts, and cultural festivals take place throughout the year in many different areas. Many museums or libraries also have free admission (or free admission days), and may include special events.
According to U.S. News & World Report, community calendars, the parks and recreation department, local colleges and universities, community websites, free newspapers, the state tourism website, the city hall, and yes, Meetup.com, are all great ways to find more information.
4. Learn something new
Have you always wanted to learn how to participate in or do a particular hobby or activity? If you’re trying to save money, then now might be the perfect time to start learning. Although supplies may cost you a bit of money up front, you also might be surprised by how much less you will spend going out to movies, dinner, and other events, if you have a hobby that you enjoy. Take an affordable art class, learn a language, or take up a musical instrument. Lessons might be expensive, but thankfully you can find a lot of free instruction on YouTube.
Trading expertise with a friend or family member can also be a great way to learn. If your sister knows how to play the guitar, and you know how to cook really well, then you can have a fun time bonding and learning at the same time.
5. Host a game night
You will never be too old or too cold to host a game night. There are so many different kinds of games that people play around the world, and even across the United States. People of all ages love games, and hosting a gaming night is a free (or cheap) and fun way to connect with friends and get some good laughs in. If you already have a favorite game, you can invite friends to play with you. Your friends might enjoy bringing their favorite games as well. It would be nice to offer food, but you can keep it simple and affordable.
According to the Nest, Rock Band, Catch Phrase, Apples to Apples, Wii, and Cranium are some great games for your event.
If you really don’t enjoy games, you can always substitute a game for a movie or sporting event. The point is, having people over is fun and free, and like many of the activities on this list, you can do it and still put your money toward your savings.