5 easy and fun ways to spend less and save more
Did your list of New Year’s resolutions include financial objectives? If so, by March, your new spending and saving habits should start to feel routine, according to one study that found it takes 66 days, on average, to form a new habit.
But, that doesn’t mean your new frugal lifestyle has become easy or enjoyable. It can be hard to focus on your finances all the time, especially when most of your goals – such as sending your kids to college or saving for retirement – seem far off.
To help, we’ve assembled five easy and fun ways for you to continue your commitment to spending less and saving more:
1. Save money on dining out
You’re eating at home more often and diverting hundreds of dollars once spent at restaurants each month toward debt repayment and other financial goals. Congratulations! It’s possible to reward yourself with the occasional night out without breaking your budget. Split an entrée or eat an appetizer as your main dish. If you have a family, look for “kids eat free” nights. Drink water as your beverage at the restaurant, and enjoy a nice glass of wine or craft beer at home before or after dining out.
Another fun way to dine out on-the-cheap are food trucks. They offer a wide variety of interesting cuisines at a fraction of the cost of traditional restaurants. Plus, you can dine al fresco and take in the sights and sounds of the local neighborhood.
2. Look for free activities
The life inspiration blog LifeHack.org offers 15 fun ways to save money and many of them are free. “Skip the movies at the theater and head to movies in the park. Many cities offer a host of free activities, especially in the summer months. Use social media tools and the web to find listings for community activities and make your date night a little cheaper. This will also push you to do something new or different, which will broaden your horizons and help you meet new people.” Other free activities you can do with friends or family include hiking, bike rides and game nights.
3. Create a game or challenge around your saving goals
Pick someone who’s also working toward personal finance goals – a sibling, best friend or co-worker – and challenge them to a save-off. The person who saves the most money over the next month (or more) wins the game. Make the prize something inexpensive, such as the loser performing some service for the winner. Think washing the winner’s car or cooking them a homemade meal. But, really there are no losers here if you’re both saving money! Click here for other fun and competitive ways to save.
4. Shop garage sales
Another LifeHack.org idea: “Instead of buying new furniture, look around at local garage sales to see if you can find something that works. It might just need a little refinishing. This can turn into a fun project and save you money as well.”
5. Make biweekly payments
Standard loans and credit cards require one payment every month. A biweekly strategy divides this monthly payment in half and pays that amount every two weeks. Because there are 52 weeks in a year, you’re making 26 biweekly payments (the equivalent of 13 monthly payments). On a monthly basis, the payment amount is the same. However, an extra month’s payment each year can reduce interest charges and shorten the term of a loan.