How to Have a Great Social Life On a Budget
Today’s post will hopefully teach you how to have a great social life on a budget. Some time ago we started to track our expenses and we then assigned categories to the spending. There were 7 major ones – Bills (which included rent, electricity, gas and internet/phone bills), Groceries, Clothing, Travel (bus fares, car, petrol, insurance, motor tax, toll fees), Health and Beauty (doctor fees, medication, and cosmetics), Postage/Gifts & last, but not least Entertainment. You can view a sample of the last publicly published “Spend & Gains Report” here. In addition, the reports also track what we gained towards a particular purchase, giving us a total net spend for the month. After over a year of tracking, we realised that next to the first biggest expense of Bills, there was a second biggest expense – Entertainment. And while we do not have a gym or any club memberships, this was all mainly due to a dining out, hobbies and supplies, museum/garden entry fees and other various fees associated with time off and weekends.
So when you work hard, you should play hard, right? What is wrong with spending cash on the things you enjoy? A few things we found.
You Do Not Enjoy Yourself
Many times we have dined out and the experience was just not worth talking about. So we felt sorry for ourselves and the time and money we could have spent or saved. Yes, we did complain in many instances, but the time is gone and no complimentary desserts or drinks will give it back. Unless, of course, the dinner is a Games of Thrones episode and you can travel in time. We doubt it.
You Have Outstanding Debt
It may be OK to spend a heap of cash on entertaining yourself, but when you have an outstanding debt, you may need to think twice. Since lenders charge a premium amount in the interest for even small amounts, you are better off paying your debt as fast as you can, even if this involves a small penalty for paying faster than the agreed term. Ever heard of someone suggesting to get a loan to clear your credit card debt? Don’t be fooled by great offers on loans vs credit interest rates and check your credit card statements. What is the money spent on? Are those by any chance entertainment expenses? If yes, re-think the entertainment budget now and avoid paying interest rates in the future by controlling your spending. This is the only way to gain financial stability.
There is Free Entertainment Available
Similar to not enjoying yourself, but this is slightly different. Just last week we heard a story from a couple we know. They purchased tickets to go to a prestige summer event in the capital. They thought that sample foods and drinks would be plentiful at the event, but found themselves paying extra for everything. Portions were bite-sized but had just as prestigious prices. It was raining on the day and they eventually got soaked and decided to leave. At that stage, they were 100 euro out of pocket and still hungry. The parking fee was another fee on top. Since they were still hungry, they went out to dinner, which cost them another 60 euro. So nearly 200 euro spent for the day they did not enjoy. On the other side, we recently were invited to an event run by a local council. Parking was free without any time limits. There were a lot of local businesses showing their menus and giving out brochures. After about 2 hours, we had tasted best of foods and saw a lot of entertainment options we did not know the city had. All at no charge. We even came back home with some cupcakes and handmade chocolates. So why not check what is available for free in your area before you rush to spend your cash on events that just not worth your time.
You Have Work or Study to Do
Going out and splashing cash when you know there is a project needs attention at work or an assignment due is a bad idea. We are not suggesting you put extra work hours without being paid, but we don’t need to tell you that often going an extra mile at work can land you a bonus or a promotion and with that increased bank balance and future opportunities. The same goes for studying. The more you know, the more you are valued in the workplace. So before you drag your feet to a pub or cinema this weekend, review your week and see what can do with few touches/emails/notes.
So if you still decide to go out as there is just no good reason to stay at home and no free events. Be sensible at least 😉 It is possible to have a Great Social Life on a Budget.
Liked this post? You may want to read this one about Christmas Party on a Budget