September 7th, 2012 | 11 Comments
The following is a guest post from SB as part of a Yakezie blog swap. SB blogs at One Cent at a Time, where he writes personal finance topics like earning extra money, becoming rich and saving environment. My guest post on the same topic is up at his blog so please check it out!
When I wrote 101 ways to save money, I received mails asking if I was advocating giving up life. Sure some of the suggestions, like reducing drinking habits, etc. do feel like giving up on social life for many, I admit. Then, again, for many more drinking is not suitable option.
You can’t go on renting movies forever; you need to visit movie theaters every ones in a while. You need to buy stuff that is not essential but gives us joy. A Nintendo DS for you kid is not essential but, when he gets bullied at school for not having it, you may need to think twice about not buying one. Similarly, you can take good photos with your regular cheap digital camera but, you can take better quality pictures using your DSLR camera.
We are social animals; we cannot live without a society, friends and family. I admit I often cross the border when it comes to saving money, and then, my wife teaches me to be a motivated saver (you can follow the conversation with my wife there).
Let me write about some key pointers which will keep you sane in your journey towards saving money without giving up on life.
Step 1: Make a Personal Budget
While saving money is a highlight of any working person’s ethical scheme, the decision mostly happens as a matter of fact. It was time one changed this mindset and determined to make a personal budget, consciously, that also includes a prerogative to pay oneself. Here are three steps to ensure that this plan achieves success:
- Assign a reasonable package of, say, $40 per seven days. This will reduce the chances of overspending blindly. Of this sum, $15 may go towards shopping for a single luxury item for the week, while the $25 remaining can be used for other passing luxury demands.
- Know that one can watch a movie in the comfort of his or her home without necessarily going to a movie theatre. The latter costs more, yet today the systems at home have so advanced that one can enjoy a rented movie on their screens for just a single dollar.
- Finally, relinquish the savings scheme from one’s hands to an automated banking outlet. The system will keep a person happy by knowing that there is some hidden cash somewhere that is out of reach, and possibly gaining on in value.
Step 2: Draw a line Between Fitness and Money
One of the easiest ways to save money without having to give up social life is to engage in physical activities. These, while cheaper than attending a movie theatre every week, can replace money as a source of joy in life. Thus, one should do either of the following to feel physically and emotionally a good spender:
- Choose a cheap yet effective gym activity. For a simple monthly charge, this form of training allows us to engage with others. It also adds a sense of wellbeing that psychologists show reduces stress and also the urge to spend.
- It would even be better to set up a communal social hall or get membership to one such establishment nearby your area, where all activities ranging from gym to entertainment takes place under one roof.
We go to YMCA and made a few friends over there. This single decision to join YMCA improved our social life big time.
Step 3: Get that Second source of Income
It sounds like a pro-slavery idea, but the global mindset has changed in recent years towards double employment. In an age where home based jobs go hand in hand with formal employment, it would be a great idea to work all week and then have a whole weekend to oneself or with family.
The pressures of single jobs often force us to work on week-ends to make ends meet. Here are some of the attributes of a second source of income that can release some pressure on your finances and let you enjoy a rich social life.
- You get to enjoy dining out with friends and family which would otherwise have been impossible with only one source of income.
- A high income, no doubt, increases social stature. Many may disagree but, this is what I see around here. A poor family is looked down upon by others in the society. If you wear same dress to every party, others would talk about you, if you know what I mean.
The final step towards saving money while still retaining most of your social amenities is to know where basic needs and money cross the line. If one likes to stay out nights, it is likely they will dine away while they could have just made some supper at home less expensively. If one is still repaying borrowing, it is also still possible to enjoy a substantial lifestyle. One can just prepare food at home while still enjoying the same delicacies that a dining outlet offers.
The one difference between eating shrimp scampi, baked salmon or steak at home and the same delicacies at a restaurant is that, in the former case, a lot of money is saved. This can help to settle some of the accumulating debts in the long run.
You can have the same social gathering at your place (or your friend’s) with food and wine. A bottle may cost you $12 at grocery stores but it will cost you $25 or more to order the same bottle at a restaurant.
Lastly, there are options to maintain good social lifestyle even with nominal income. At the same time, there are ways to remain fulfilled in your life with whatever you got. If you get like-minded people around you, saving money, even extreme of it, may not raise a question.
Readers, can you share your experience when your frugal habits were questioned and how did you react to that?
photo from grampymoose
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