Recently, I made a few life-changing decisions that have necessitated a significant reduction in my day-to-day expenses. While I navigate these new waters and figure out how I'd like to best deal with a unique set of financial circumstances, I'll be adhering to what I refer to as an “incredibly frugal lifestyle.”
But does this mean that I will no longer be able to have fun and enjoy my money? Absolutely not!
When it comes to living in a frugal manner, the following action lists highlight what I'll be doing to ensure I'm putting my best foot forward in an effort to make fun fit into my budget. The first set of actions surrounds the sound financial habits I'll be maintaining to cut down on money-related stress, which will automatically allow for a greater potential of fun. The second is focused on some creative ways to do more with less (which is always fun for a PF nerd like me!).
Sound Financial Habits That Reduce Money-Related Stress
- Tracking my spending daily. Typically, I track my overall expenses monthly and my miscellaneous spending weekly. Now, I'll be taking a daily inventory of my spending. Doing so will make it much easier to stay mindful of my budget. It will also avoid any potential end-of-the-month stress because I wasn't keeping an eye on my finances throughout. You can also use some free online money management sites to help you.
- Cutting back on meals out and gasoline expenses. These are the two categories that have the largest impact on my miscellaneous spending. If I cut back in these categories, I will be able to free up additional cash that can be put to better use (such as beefing up my savings account or paying for unexpected, necessary expenses). In order to cut back on dining out, I'll be cooking at home more and I'll reduce car expenses by riding my bike as much as possible.
- Maintaining my retirement savings. Continuous funding of my retirement accounts provides the peace of mind that I'm doing great things for my future. To me, this sense of freedom and motivation is priceless, so I won't be cutting back my contributions unless it turns out to be absolutely necessary I do so (the only scenario I'd deem “necessary” would be if I could no longer cover my mortgage payments).
Creative Ways to do More with Less
- Seeking out free activities. Luckily, we're entering one of the best seasons for taking advantage of free, community activities. I plan to take advantage of the free movies, concerts, and workshops that are often held throughout the city all summer long.
- Making social plans that involve running/hiking. Another way to combine fun and free activity is to center my social outings around physical activities I enjoy such as running and hiking. Not only will this help me maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it will give me a built-in stress reducer that will help me navigate this transition period.
- Planning my future vacations. Despite my current reduction in take-home pay, I'm still maintaining my focus on future goals. Part of that is still planning my trip to hike Mount Kilimanjaro in the fall. I'm happy that the trip is already 100% pre-paid because now I can focus my efforts on planning all the fun activities I want to take advantage of while in Tanzania.
- Creating financial games. As I mentioned above, I'm a self-proclaimed PF nerd. That being said, I'll be creating a few games centered around cutting my expenses and saving more given a short-term budget that's limited. I haven't completely sussed out the details, but I'll be finding ways to keep my motivation as high as possible by challenging myself to cut back, save more, AND have fun!
How do you balance a frugal lifestyle and having fun?