Who couldn’t use a little fun in their lives these days?
Thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, summer vacation plans have been upended, parents are coping with remote schooling their kids, and social distancing has complicated gatherings with friends and family. Even worse, COVID-19 has caused financial stress for nearly every American.
Spending less and having fun may seem like a paradox, but not with these five easy ideas from AutoPayPlus. And remember, always follow the CDC’s guidelines to wear a mask, stay at least six feet from other people and wash your hands frequently.
1. Save money on dining out
You’re likely cooking at home more often to save the money you once spent on restaurants and meal deliveries for more essential budget needs. Good for you! Financial discipline can be hard. It’s possible to reward your efforts with an 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. “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 budget goals
Pick someone who’s also working on their 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.” This same strategy also applies to everything from home goods to children’s toys and clothing.
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.
AutoPayPlus automates the biweekly payment process for our members, making it easy and fun when you see the savings you achieve. Use our free calculator to determine how much you will save in interest and how many months you can shave off of your loan term by making biweekly payments.