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Living on a budget can be challenging, and for those of us who suffer from overspending and impulse buying, we see it as not very fun.
It can be hard to stay positive and focused on your goals when all you’re thinking about is how you CAN’T spend money or go shopping on a whim.
If you have been living on a tight budget for a while, you may be starting to feel like it will never end.
You dream of making more money and enjoying more freedom so you can say goodbye to your spending plan.
When you feel like you’re depriving yourself of things you want, it can cause you to get down about your financial situation. That’s when it’s more important than ever to stay positive; the right attitude will help you get through it much easier.
No one said personal finance was easy, but there are a few tricks to staying in a positive mindset about your budget so that you don’t want to give up but instead continue on the path towards financial freedom.
LIVING ON A BUDGET WITHOUT FEELING DEPRIVED
REMEMBER YOUR “WHY”
What’s your reason for living within your means and according to a spending plan? What are your ultimate goals? Maybe you want to pay off debt or save up for a new car. Maybe you have a number in mind for your savings account. Whatever your reason, remind yourself what it is when you are feeling down and feel like the light at the end of the tunnel is far away. Remembering your purpose will help you stay positive.
NOTHING LASTS FOREVER AND EVERYTHING CHANGES
Living on a tight budget will most likely not last forever. While you may need to live on one longer than you’d like, it’s probably only for a year or two. Raises and second incomes may come your way and give you more flexibility; allowing you to loosen your budget a little and make room for other expenses. Staying positive will help your situation improve much faster than with a negative attitude.
MAKE IT FUN
You might be surprised to find out how many things you can enjoy for free or inexpensively, you just have to look. Always be on the lookout for fun things to do in your area. Go for a hike and bring a picnic, visit a museum with free admission, or check online for festivals and events around town. When you are struggling to stay positive, adding a little fun into your life will go a long way. In fact, ignoring the need for fun and depriving yourself regularly of fun is one of the worst things you can do. Nothing will derail your efforts more than locking yourself away until your debt is paid off.
This means looking at fun and what you enjoy in a whole new light. If all you can think of that you enjoy is to go shopping, take the time to explore new hobbies and activities to see if any of them put a smile on your face. Get out and socialize more. But just remember your budget. Budget money each month so you can do at least one or two things you enjoy so your efforts to pay off debt don’t feel so restrictive.
Doing something nice for those who are less fortunate will give your spirits, and theirs, a nice boost. There is always someone who is struggling more than you. Find a way to help someone else by volunteering at a food bank or animal shelter, build a house with Habitat of Humanity, visit lonely seniors in a retirement home. You don’t need to donate money, the possibilities for donating your time are endless.
BUDGET TO SPLURGE
Budgeting doesn’t mean you can’t splurge once in a while; you can still treat yourself without spending a lot. Pick up a box of your favorite cookies from a local bakery or a new find for your house from a thrift store. If you can manage to set aside just $5-$10 a month in your budget for a little treat it will go a long way to lifting your spirits by giving you something to look forward to.
You can even enjoy a date night on a tight budget. Rent a movie and make a bowl of popcorn for less than $5 and curl up on the couch after the kids go to bed. If you have a little splurge built into your budget, you won’t feel bad for having a little fun.
Make a gratitude list of the 5 most important things in your life then put it somewhere you can see it often. This should be your focus. This is what really matters most. Is it a new outfit? Or is it your husband, your kids, your health, and your home? Keeping your focus on the things that really matter will help you realize that material things just aren’t as important.
Gratitude is such a critical component when you’re attempting to change your behavior and move away from excessive and constant spending. Here are some of my favorite books that will help cultivate more gratitude in your life and help you look at your circumstances in a new light.
Staying optimistic about your budget can be difficult, but keeping your focus on why you’re doing it will make it a little easier.
You can keep your spirits up even more by making saving and living on a tight budget fun. Just because you can’t afford that European vacation yet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life. Staying positive and making it fun will make it less difficult.
Now that your attitude and focus is in the right place, here are a few ways to make saving and budgeting fun.
SEE HOW LONG YOU CAN LAST WITHOUT SPENDING ANYTHING
Make a game out of trying not to spend, not even a dime. Can you wait one more day before going grocery shopping? Instead of buying new clothes, are there hidden treasures in your own closet that you’ve forgotten about? Challenge yourself to see how long you can go without buying anything or try to find another way to get what you need without buying it, like borrowing it or trading with someone else.
GO ON A TREASURE HUNT IN YOUR HOUSE
Living on a budget isn’t just about saving money; it’s also about supplementing your income with more cash flow. Going on a treasure hunt in your home may help you find money you didn’t know you had. Do you have any old sports equipment you don’t use anymore? Sell it on eBay or Craigslist. Clean out your closet and take your gently used clothing to a consignment store for cash. Have a yard sale and see how much money you can make from selling your unwanted items! Make it a family challenge to see who can make the most by getting rid of things they don’t need anymore.
FIND ONE FREE ACTIVITY EACH WEEK
Going to the movies or out to dinner can be expensive. Challenge yourself to find one family-friendly free activity to enjoy every weekend. Look for festivals, nature centers, and museums. See what ideas your family can come up with too. Stop by your local library and see what free tickets are available to museums and places of interest. I know my library even has a telescope you can check out. You could devote an entire weekend to learning about the stars!
BUILD A SUPPORT GROUP
Doing something you don’t really want to do (like living on a budget) becomes more fun with friends. Start an accountability group and get some friends together. You can all compare notes about how you’re saving money and great deals you’re finding. You’ll find it easier to stay motivated with like-minded friends doing it with you. Start a Facebook Group to easily share ideas and articles you find that everyone can benefit from. Or join our Facebook Page for insights, support, and guidance!
BE TECH SAVVY
Use an app to help you track your spending and saving. Entering those numbers can help you stay motivated and challenged to keep doing better. Check the app store to find one you like. Some will even “reward” you for your progress.
Staying on a budget doesn’t have to mean you’re always bored and can’t have any fun. Challenging yourself to have fun with it and staying focused on your goal will make budgeting a lot easier and much more enjoyable.
This article is part of our year-long series on How To Develop A Spending Plan.