It’s the dreaded B-word, only this one doesn’t rhyme with witch. When most of us think of living on a budget, what we think of is how to end up eating ramen noodles and watching the static on our tv screen. Never fear, there is more to a budget then not having a life. Here are some tips, tricks, and games you can play to make budgets more than drudgery. Some of these work best if you’re able to compare your progress with a partner, so don’t be afraid to brag about how steep your savings were on your new duds at the water cooler!
[Read: How To Stick To Your Budget]
Living on a budget, let’s count the ways
- Budget Limbo – How long can you go
Save money on gas, save time on errands, and maybe even realize some things are wants and not needs. This challenge is simple, instead of dropping everything to spend money, wait a little while longer.
- Instead of leaving the house the instant you run out of milk, wait until you go grocery shopping.
- You’ll save money on gas you would have spent going to the store.
- You won’t spend money on impulse buys
- You might even end up buying less milk overall
- Before you buy a new set of clothes, check the back of your closet
- You may even find something that still has the tags on!
- Can we say re-gift?
- If you haven’t used it all the better.
- Look for hidden treasures in your house
You know that feeling when you find a forgotten $20 in your coat pocket? Just imagine what it feels like when you sell your never worn pea coat for $60 on eBay. Remember that juicer you bought, back when you were going to do a cleansing liquid diet? It’s still in its box under your sink waiting to take up space on someone else’s kitchen counter.
What makes this challenge that much better, you get to keep your New Years’ Resolution of:
- Getting rid of junk
- Organizing your house
- Cleaning up your house
- Removing clutter from your life
- Minimizing your material possessions
You never know what you’ll find, or what you’ll be able to sell it for. An added bonus, by looking through your apartment and seeing everything you own, you won’t spend money purchasing duplicate items. When you live on a budget a penny saved is a penny earned.
- Find free (or really cheap) things to do in your area
When most people think about living on a budget they think of no longer experiencing life. But just because you aren’t willing to play full price doesn’t mean your life is devoid of experiences and culture.
- Reduced/free admission to museums and art galleries
- Check out your local museums and art galleries, many have one day a week where entrance is free, or at least highly reduced.
- Outdoor movies
- Self-guided walking tours
- Early morning movie showinsg
- Granted this isn’t free, many movie theatres offer half-price tickets if you go before 11 on Saturdays and Sundays
- Free entrance in exchange for volunteering
- Many festivals and local theatres give volunteers comp tickets. Not only will you meet new people and kill some extra time, you could score tickets for a date!
- Budget Accountability Group
Who says that the only support groups need to belong to those facing emotional and psychological turmoil. Make your own group, to meet online or in person, in order to help you stick to your budget. On days when living on a budget truly is a b-word, having others that will support you and understand what you’re doing can make the hard times a little easier. Accountability groups aren’t just there when you’re about to throw in the towel. They are designed to help you when the math just isn’t working. They are also there to celebrate when you make a huge achievement, like finally paying off those student loans.
- Live on a Budget, virtually.
Pen and paper can’t be taken everywhere. Spreadsheets almost never leave your computer. But with an app, all you have to do is whip out your phone. There are some free, and helpful apps like
If you’re in need of a reminder of what you’re sticking to your budget for; Urge helps you see what all of your “No’s” have added up to.
[Read: Why a Budget Really Matters]
When you don’t want to live on a budget anymore
Remember why you have chosen to undertake this endeavor. Most people do not choose to live on a budget just for the fun of it. Many of us want to pay off our debts. Others want to save up for a home. We all want to have money there when we retire. Remember what you’re doing this for.