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Have you been struggling keeping a budget?
Do you always seem to go over?
Read on for 5 ways to help you stay 100% on track.
If you live in expensive places like San Francisco, you will learn to keep a lot of things on a budget. One way of making sure you do not spend beyond your set budget for each day, week, month or year is to keep track of your monthly expenditures and quickly call yourself back to order as soon as you notice an imbalance.
When it comes to having fun there is usually no limit. We tend to get carried away at parties as we pull out our credit cards and keep on making swipe after swipe. At the end of the day, you’d be shocked by the number of “FUN and ENTERTAINMENT THINGS” that cart away your cash.
It is true that there are obvious alternatives to a girl’s night out, party on the town, like holding in-house fun parties (a great way to socialize).
However, sometimes we’re obligated or forced to go out-a friend’s birthday or a lover big party, for example, or the urgent need to leave the house and indulge ourselves a little. Having fun shouldn’t have to end in a lot of unpaid cash. Lucky for you, there are many ways to cut corners and still have a good time without plunging yourself into debt.
1. Leave Your Credit Card at Home
It’s easier to go out to fun places with a focus on saving whilst still having fun but it’s much harder to retain the focus with your credit card in your
If you have enough cash in the bank, the smart thing to do is to withdraw a certain amount of cash before leaving the house and leave the credit card at home. That way, you only spend what you truly can afford.
It feels pretty socially awkward asking to borrow cash for an extra drink or dessert. That way, you only spend what you can truly afford. (It feels pretty silly asking to borrow money for dessert or an extra drink.)
2. Take Advantage of Happy Hour
Most people often meet up or go out to dinner later in the evening, especially on weekends. Too bad they’re missing out on some great deals provided by local restaurants and bars.
A lot of these fun places offer discounts at certain hours or happy hour (which usually lasts at least two to three hours) with great deals on drinks and food like cheap beer, half-priced cocktails, 2-for-1 appetizers, etc. There is no reason why the parties cannot take advantage of this- start the party a little bit earlier. Ensure you and your friends get there early to snag a seat as happy hour is becoming increasingly popular (and crowded) in these frugal living times.
3. Go Out With a Plan
Eating out especially at dinners can make staying within your set budget very difficult. Beverages and food are globally overpriced and even if you order minimally, there’s a big chance that the rest of the group (who didn’t do like you did) will want to split the bill.
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There are ways to get around this. First, you should consider ordering off the appetizer menu. It’s cheaper and the portions are much more reasonable. An alternative would be to split an entrée with a friend (because most main courses are enough for two people, or you can save half for the next day lunch).
Head over to Restaurant.com to buy gift certificates to restaurants in your area for economic prices (A $25 gift certificate for $10 is a frequent deal on their website), or be on the watch for restaurant specials and coupons in the local paper. Beverages tend to cost more so choose one wisely. Water is your best bet, but if you taste buds prefer liquid with alcohol or more flavor, just know you may have to cut back on something else for the rest of the remaining hours. If you decide to go for alcoholic drinks, I recommend you avoid mixed drinks as these are typically more expensive than others. Mixed drinks are more expensive because patrons pay for the alcohol content, not whatever mixers are included. You should stick to drinks with one alcohol (Long Island Iced Tea etc.).
4. Seek Out Discounts on Entertainment
Why pay for entertainment, when you can get it for free? I love art show openings. Want to know why? Because they are free, they happen at night accompanied by a table of snacks and beverages to enjoy! (Free meal). Additionally, you get to meet new artists and immerse yourself in artistry creativity. To begin, check online or browse the local paper to see if any art walks or gallery shows are happening in your locality. The newspaper and internet also offer you other great entertainment deals- such as movie screenings, book readings, concerts, events concerts, theater productions for free or at a discount.
5. Have Fun for Free
Having fun with friends or family doesn’t always mean a club setting or eateries. There are hundreds of ways to spend time together and enjoy a night out without dipping into grocery funds.
Creativity is the secret!
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One night, I and my friends played monopoly. It was fun and we learned more about personal saving and investment during that period-all with zero impact on our finances. If weather permits, try camping in your backyard or go stargazing.
There’s no limit to the number of things you can do with friends. However, make sure to stick to safer parts of the city in whatever you do. Night riding is another free way to a night out. You get to exercise your muscles, laugh with friends and you spend the night enjoying your friends' company.
Your wallets may be lean or your bank account red, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go out and have fun when the mood requires it. In fact, escaping the house to socialize with friends is what makes tough times bearable. It helps you feel not alone in your financial struggles. And there are benefits to frugal entertainment, such as discovering activities in our cities that we have never thought of or explored before. It requires a little effort but the rewards are incredibly satisfying to the body, mind, soul and spirit. Remember, it’s not being cheap—it’s being creative.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Balogun Owomide has a huge passion for spreading motivation, business and personal finance.
You can reach him on Facebook at Balogun Owomide.
As a certified credit counselor and syndicated writer at MaxMyMoney, Max has coached over 250 Millennials to help take the stress out of money. When Max is not coaching, you'll find him reading financial books, indoor cycling, or visiting local pawn shops looking for swiss-made watches.