When I tell people I’m sticking to a budget, I usually get one of a couple reactions: people either totally understand, are on-board, and very supportive or they think I’m ridiculous and need to “live a little.” A budget is not a ball and chain. A budget gives you permission to spend your money. It lets you be level-headed because you’ve planned out your spending. You may think that budgeting isn’t fun (you don’t have to geek out over it like I do), but it doesn’t have to be painful either. Sure, living on a budget means we don’t spend extravagantly, but when I’m debt-free next fall, ask me how I’m doing. Here are seven great ways to make you look at spending and saving in a whole new way.
Discover hidden money in your house.
Living on a budget is more than just saving money; it’s also about finding ways to supplement your income. Do you have any old sports equipment or electronics that you’re not using anymore? Sell them on eBay or Craigslist. Clean out your closet and take your gently worn clothes to a consignment store. Some will even pay you cash on the spot so you don’t have to wait. Sign up for Swagbucks as a very passive way to make some extra money.
See how long you can go without spending.
Make a game out of holding out to see how long you can go without spending anything. Whether you’re doing a No Spend Challenge or a category Spending Ban, game-ify not-spending-money and it will be fun! Can you wait an extra day to go grocery shopping? How about cleaning out your closet to see what you have instead of buying a new outfit. See it as a challenge. Or maybe you can find another way to get what you need without buying it. Can you barter or trade for something?
Find a free activity to enjoy every week.
Entertainment can be one of the biggest expenses in a budget. Going out for dinner and drinks every weekend adds up. Check your local area for free activities like festivals, nature centers and museums. Visit a local state park for a hike. Challenge yourself to find one free activity every week. Libraries are great for FREE books!
Use an app to keep on track.
There are plenty of apps to help you track your money; making the process of sticking to your goals more fun. I use Everydollar and Learnvest! My sister prefers Mint. One’s not better than another, they’re just different. Find the one that works for you.
Find ways to earn extra cash online.
Can you find an online focus group or review group to join that will either pay you in cash or gift cards that you can use to shop? There are several sites out there, find one you like and spend a little time in the evening or on the weekend filling out surveys or review products for a little extra green.
Find a budget accountability group.
Doing something you don’t like becomes more fun when you do it with friends. Find an accountability group where you can get together with friends to compare notes about saving money. If you can’t find a group, start one of your own. You may find it easier to stay motivated with like-minded friends sharing. Start a Facebook Group to share ideas and articles you find that everyone can benefit from. You might like the Shield Sisters Sanctuary.
Celebrate. Set a savings goal.
When you reach it, find a way to celebrate. A manicure for paying off a loan! A pedicure for hitting the next thousand mark! You deserve it!
What are you favorite ways to make budget-living fun?
Emilie is an Army Wife, Data Engineer, and CrossFitter with a love for working through her thoughts in this space on the internet. She is a contributor to many open source projects including dbt, Meltano, and GitLab. She lives with her husband Casey, their son RJ, and their pup Bo in Columbus, GA.