Nobody likes having to stick to a tight budget, particularly when you’re dying to go shopping; but the good news is that there are some steps to make budgeting fun! From downloading apps to help you to stick to a budget to assistance from friends, there are plenty of steps to make budgeting fun that you can take this autumn, which will ensure that you have plenty of money put aside for all that Christmas shopping!
1. Download an App
A fun, colorful app to help you budget is a great idea. Not only does it mean that your budgeting tool will always be with you – whether you’re at work, school, or trying to resist the temptation of the shops – but it will also help budgeting to be a bit more fun! Use apps such as mySuperList (for iPhone and Android) to help you manage your grocery shopping budget or OnTrees to help you keep an eye on your overall budget. This is one of my favorite steps to make budgeting fun!
2. Treat Yourself
Even if you’re trying to stick to a strict budget, we all need a treat now and then. I usually factor in a little bit of money for a treat into my monthly budget – whether that’s coffee and cake with friends, a new pair of shoes or a book I’ve been dying to read. By ensuring you factor in the price of a treat or two over the course of your month, you’ll find that your budget, no matter how strict, is easier to stick to, as you won’t feel you’re missing out! The key to making this work is to pick just one thing each month that you’ll have as a treat, and this could be anything from a social outing to a new outfit!
3. Work as a Team
If you live with your partner, work on your budget as a team. This way you can be sure that neither of you will over-spend, and it can actually be fun trying to find bargains at the grocery store or when you’re clothes shopping. If you live alone, why not find a friend who is also trying to cut back on their spending and become each other’s budget buddies? You can help suggest ways to save money to each other and remind each other of the end goal – whether that’s to save for a luxury holiday or simply to have more money to spend come Christmas.
4. Set Yourself Goals
Working towards a goal is a fun and easy way to ensure you’ll stick to your budget. If you’re planning a dream holiday, cut out pictures and stick them on your wall so that you have visual motivation when you wake up each morning. If you’re saving for the deposit on an apartment, then bookmark pages for apartments you like online or save a picture of an apartment as your desktop wallpaper or screensaver on your phone. Having a visual representation of your goals will help you to budget and save your money!
5. Get Creative
Just because you’re sticking to a tight budget, doesn’t mean you can’t eat well and live well! Budgeting is a chance to get creative with your shopping and cooking. Instead of buying processed convenience foods, head for your local grocery store or market and stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs. It’s easy to find budget-friendly recipes online, and autumn is the perfect time to whip up hearty soups, cozy stews and bean casseroles – bulk up dishes with vegetables and grains to cut the amount of money you spend on meat and flavor your dish with herbs and spices. Delicious!
6. Make Your Own
If you’re longing for new cushion covers to replace your tired, worn ones or need curtains for your bedroom, why not make your own? If you already have a sewing machine, or a friend who has one, then it’s relatively easy to pick up some fabric at a discount store and put your creativity to good use! Taking up a new hobby such as sewing or crafts is a great way to stick to your budget – not only will you be able to make new home and fashion accessories (or even Christmas gifts), but you’ll also be keeping busy and saving money too!
7. Try Your Hand at Knitting
Knitting or crochet is a great hobby, and if you live near a major city, you’ll probably be able to find social knitting groups in your area. If not, you can still spend time knitting or crocheting alone or with friends, and it’s a great way to make some new accessories for winter whilst sticking to your budget. A couple of balls of wool will usually cost you less than a new hat and scarf set, not to mention the fun you’ll have creating colorful accessories for chilly days! If you’re already an experienced knitter, you could even make Christmas gifts for friends and family.
8. Have a Budget-free Month
If you’ve been sticking to your budget for the last 6 months, it’s time to give yourself a break. By allowing yourself a budget-free month where you can splurge just a little bit, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to get back to scrimping and saving. Take a month (or a couple of weeks) off and allow yourself a few treats – perhaps a pampering massage, a romantic meal out with your partner or a trip to the movies. Don’t go overboard, just allow yourself some of the things you haven’t had whilst you’ve been sticking to your budget.
Freecycle is one of my favorite websites, and if you’re on a tight budget, it will soon become one of your favorites too! Where else can you find things that you need, for free? From books and DVDs to furniture and clothes, people will advertise things they no longer need on Freecycle, and there’s sure to be a group in your area. It’s a good idea to sign up for a ‘daily digest’ email so that you don’t miss out on available items, particularly if there’s something specific that you need.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be doom and gloom, and sometimes saving money can make you more imaginative and creative with what you do have. Autumn is the perfect time of year to start a budget as the weather grows colder and you find yourself longing to spend more time indoors, and if you begin now, you could save some money towards your Christmas shopping when the festive season rolls around. Do you have any top tips for making budgeting fun?