You should never feel guilty about having fun on the weekends. When you see a movie, go to a ball game, dance or enjoy any fun activity, you reduce your negative stress levels. By doing so, you return to work or school on Monday feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. You’re then ready to focus throughout the week.
In addition, socializing is one of the things that make life worth living. It staves off depression and helps people form meaningful, satisfying connections with each other.
The only problem is that pleasure can really sap your savings after a while. The trick isn’t to avoid recreation but to select your diversions carefully, keeping their costs in the right proportion to your budget. The tips below will help you have more fun for less money – which is the best kind of fun.
1. Have a Fun Fund
Each week, you probably have some money left over after you’ve paid your expenses. You should put most of that sum into your savings and emergency accounts, and you may need to use some of it to alleviate debts and help improve your credit report. However, you can keep a portion of that money for entertainment.
Throughout the weekend, keep careful track of how much money you’re spending. Ask for receipts wherever you go. Then, on Sunday afternoon, add up how much you’ve spent. If you’ve gone over your allotted amount, take it out of next weekend’s fun fund. On the other hand, if it turns out that you’ve spent less than you intended to, you might be able to splurge a little more next Friday and Saturday.
2. Always Pay with Cash
Before you leave home on a weekend evening, hit up an ATM machine and stick a wad of cash in your wallet or purse. That way, as you go along, you’ll actually be able to feel how much you’ve been spending. If that wad is starting to get thin, you’ll know to order fewer snacks and drinks or to buy cheaper items than you otherwise might.
On top of that, when you have to take out a bill and hand it to a cashier, it might make you more reluctant to go through with purchases that you know are unnecessary.
By contrast, when you pay with a credit card or, even worse, your phone, it becomes all too easy to lose track of how much money is gone. Whipping out that plastic and tapping a glowing screen can be seductive acts, and you can fool yourself into thinking that you’re staying within your budget when you’re freely overspending.
3. Find Free and Cheap Entertainment Options
If your budget allows, there’s no harm in spending lavishly once in a while to go to a ski resort, a golf course or a glamorous nightclub. But believe it or not, you can really enjoy yourself without blowing much money, and some exciting forms of leisure don’t cost anything at all. You just have to know where to look.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Free concerts and movies in the park
- Night sledding and visits to public ice skating rinks
- Board games on stormy nights
- Picnics under the stars
- Twilight hikes, bike rides, jogs and runs
- Tailgating parties and games at local colleges
- Museum excursions with passes from your local library
After a while, you’ll no doubt have a long list of your favorite frugal fun spots.
4. Eat Out for Less
Do you feel that the terms “weekend” and “fine dining” are synonymous? Well, you needn’t fight your urge to try new culinary delights when the workweek ends. There are plenty of ways to eat inexpensively yet still savor satisfying meals. Consider these tips:
- Throughout the week, scour the internet for sweet restaurant discounts. You might be stunned by how much money regular coupon usage and deal-aggregating websites can save you.
- Host a potluck dinner at home. If you really want to have a delicious experience, only invite those friends, neighbors and family members whom you know to be good cooks.
- Visit local culinary schools on occasion. These institutions often serve student-made meals to the public in restaurant settings. It’s often very affordable to eat at such a place, but the variety and quality of the food can be outstanding. And who knows? Maybe you’ll meet the next Wolfgang Puck or Gordon Ramsay while you’re there.
- When you go to an expensive establishment, try sharing your meal or eating just an appetizer and a dessert.
Finally, one of the most rewarding aspects of seeking cheap meals and recreation is that you’ll try out plenty of new foods and new pursuits. Some of them you could end up loving.
For instance, you and your friends might explore local caves one Saturday because it’s free to do so. Well, the beauty of those caverns could convince you to take up caving as a hobby. And the beauty of realizing that you’re not hurting, but actually helping your credit score can make all of your weekend activities more gratifying as well!