How to Follow a Strict Budget (And Still Have a Life)

Enjoying life on a tight budget can be tough. It is just like dieting. When we feel restricted, the craving is stronger. Just because you are living frugally, this does not mean that you have to give up your life.

You can still have a great time while adhering to your budget; here is how to be a frugal, money saver, who still has a life.

Eat, drink and be merry; on a budget

A large portion of what we have goes towards our food. The first step would be to eat, drink and be merry on a budget. Search for restaurants that include meal discounts or daily specials. You would get to eat them cheaper than they would normally cost. For those with little ones, look for restaurants that offer discounts or free meals for kids. By doing this, you can still have that night out without exceeding your budget.

If you are used to eating out a few times a week, try cooking instead. Save that money and treat yourself to a nice meal, once a week, rather than having several average meals. With that once a week outing, you would have something to look forward to each week as well.

Are you craving for a fancy restaurant meal? Perhaps that Italian meal you had last month? Time to look for a recipe and whip up your own delicious feast. You might just discover the chef in you. You would probably save at least half of the price you would normally pay at a restaurant if you cook at home. Furthermore, since you have made the dish yourself, you would know exactly what ingredients are in it. That is a bonus! Save money and be healthy at the same time!

Love your morning coffee but can’t afford to buy one daily? You can still enjoy that aroma and flavour of freshly roasted coffee beans and you can do so right at home by being your own barista. Buy ground beans and brew them at home. If time is an issue, brew enough beans to fill a coffee jar at a time and you will have enough for the next few days. Need your coffee on the go? Just pour your coffee into your own tumbler and there you have it – coffee to go. You will end up saving a bundle on your daily coffee.

Get in touch with nature; it’s free

When it comes to going out and having a good time, it all comes down to the who, and not so much the where. You don’t need a fancy restaurant or the gold class cinema to have a romantic date. Explore nature, and enjoy an outdoor date. You could pack a picnic and pack a bottle of wine to enjoy a relaxing date under the stars, stroll on the beach, find a secluded hike in a national forest or trail, or just step out into your backyard and set up a picnic on your lawn.

Do you enjoy keeping fit but are struggling with the hefty gym fees?  Why not take advantage of the world around you and work out for free?  You could go out for a run, walk, hike, cycle or even a swim. You could even join free classes in the park organised by your health insurance provider. The scenery would definitely be better than the wall at your local gym too.

Always look for a discount or promotion

Cities and local governments frequently organise free events for the public. Check out and subscribe to your local council social media pages or websites for lists of upcoming events. The free events range from movie nights and art festivals, to cultural celebrations. Cost of entry is usually free especially for the young ones and the fun can easily go on for hours!

Look to your local coupon websites such as Groupon for deals on activities, meals and more. You can snag a bargain from these deal websites; From massive discounts on meals, to cheap mini golf games, kayaking and so much more. You can often buy them at only a fraction of the original price. All you have to do is visit the site, choose your location and search for your desired products or services. To save you time, you can also subscribe to these websites to get daily or weekly updates rather than having to manually search each time.

We all enjoy our movie nights but it is not cost effective to visit the cinema so frequently. Instead of going to the cinema and spending at least $15 on a ticket, and more on snacks and drinks, why not buy your own popcorn, snacks and drinks at the supermarket, and stay in and watch a movie from Netflix. If you do not have a Netflix account, you could rent a movie instead. You will save a lot by having a movie night at home.

Pamper yourself; at home

You do not have to give up indulgences just because you are on a tight budget. You can still treat yourself to a few occasional luxuries. Just practice mindfulness if you do choose to splurge. You could save up a little bit and treat yourself to say a monthly indulgent massage. Just that once a month.

Instead of going to a nail spa, why not do your own at home. You can save a lot of money by doing your own mani-pedi session. Better yet, why not get a few of the girls to come around and have a mani-pedi session together. That way you can do each others’ nails and enjoy the company.

There are plenty of companies out there which offer free meals or gifts for birthdays. Sign up to their birthday clubs and take advantage of the freebies. Be treated like a VIP on your special day with all the freebies available to you.

Have you found a way to enjoy life yet still live frugally?

Share your ideas with us!

[Source: How To Not Feel Deprived When Following A Strict Budget by Fran Sidoti.]

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