Balancing Frugality With Fun

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The following guest post is part of the Yakezie blog swap. In this monthly event, Yakezie participants pair up and exchange articles on a common topic.  For May, we are trading posts on the common topic of balancing frugality and fun. This article was written by Ashley over at Money Talks. If you enjoy it, you can subscribe to her feed or follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy!

You can view my swap post over at Money Talks today at the following link – Balancing Frugality With Fun.

Balancing frugality and fun relies on one tactic. It requires focusing on the people in your life rather than your stuff.

You can spend all of the money in the world, but if you have to spend that money alone, it wouldn’t be very much fun. Conversely, being in a room with your favorite people can be a blast and cost nothing.

When you look back at your fondest memories, they include the people you were with, right? You might not remember how much dinner cost, or what you were wearing, but you remember who was there. You remember the jokes, the laughter, the good times. Those things are free.

Being Frugal With Friends

A good friend is the most valuable thing you have, and it costs nothing to obtain. A smile, a joke, and a kind gesture are all free. Good friends help you to be happier, healthier, and will help you live longer. These amazing benefits can be had for free!

However, even in friendship, you have to watch your wallet. Some friendships are based on spending money together. Be careful of this. If your friend always wants to spend money or pressures you into buying the latest iPhone or Dolce and Gabbana purse, then you need to mindful. Breaking the budget in the name of friendship might be fun, but it isn’t frugal.

I had a friend that liked to meet for lunch. If you’ve known me for 5 minutes, then you know I like to eat out, so that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that she always picked expensive places. This is fine every once in a while, but I couldn’t pull it off every week.

So, sometimes, I would have to suggest pizza instead of the new trendy place. Or, I would even invite her over to my place for lunch once in a while. The point wasn’t the lunch, the point was spending time together. Lunch just facilitated us hanging out. I didn’t see my friend as an excuse to eat lunch out. Lunch was an excuse to see my friend. If you keep the emphasis on the friendship instead of the lunch, you can balance frugality and fun.

Frugality and After School Activities

After school activities for the kids are another place where you have to be careful to balance the frugality with the fun. You sign them up because you think it will be fun. You knew you would have to pay the initial fee, but then you are buying equipment, uniforms, snacks, chipping in for gifts, for the coach, transporting kids all over town, throwing team parties, buying professional pictures, and it seems like it never ends.

Help your wallet and your kid’s expectations of money by keeping the focus on the activity. Why did you sign up for the activity? Stay focused on that. Was it to meet people in the area or was it to learn a sport? Don’t get sidetracked. If the goal was to learn the sport, then stay with that. Do you need to throw a party to learn a sport? Do you need professional pictures? Do you need special pants? If the fun was to play baseball, then balance the frugality by cutting out the extras.

Being frugal doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. The spirit of frugality is to get the most out of your money. I certainly don’t think you are getting the most out of your money if you aren’t having fun. When you only spend money on the things that matter you can have more fun. You can spend those dollars where they will give you the most happiness. Being frugal means you can have more lunches with friends and more activities for your kids.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. To close, I’ll leave you with an insightful quote I found!

If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy. – Author Unknown

How about you all? How do you balance frugality and fun? Do you know any one that does either a really BAD job or a really GOOD job at this? What do they do?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

Jacob’s Thoughts – Listed below are my random thoughts as I was reading this article.

  • Great post Ashley! Thanks so much for your contributions!
  • @ Being frugal with friends – Friends can either be a great source of improvement or destruction for your finances. And, it really all just depends on who they are. 
    • I know quite a few people that seem to either 1) go out to bars or 2) go shopping at the mall when they are around certain friends. It’s almost like that’s just the default thing that they feel comfortable doing around each other. 
    • As you can imagine, whenever they go on these outings, it always hurts the wallet! 
  • @ Balancing frugality with after school activities – This is definitely a tough one! This is mainly due to the fact that you would prefer your son/daughter to be outside or doing these activities as opposed to being stuck at home playing PSIII or Nintendo Wii. 
    • However, the cost for these sports definitely ads up! With all of the sports I played growing up (baseball, cycling, and cross country), there was definitely a lot of cost involved. 
    • We did try to keep the spending to things centered around enabling me to excel at the sport and less on the ancillary, non-essential things, which I think helped.
    • Also, I know that sometimes, kids can jump in to a certain activity “full-bore” only to get tired of it several months down the road. If you can wait until the child is certain that he or she will be committed long term to the activity, that can help save money as well.

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  1. Very thoughtfully written Ashley! You can't put a price on good memories, doesn't mean that good memories have to be expensive!
    My recent post Can You Have Fun And Still Be Frugal You Betcha!

  2. pvcccourses says:

    Well, the problem with focusing on the people in your life comes when those people can afford to do a lot more than you can (or think they can, anyway), and they expect you to keep up with them. This may be more crudely obvious with the kids' after-school issue, since children haven't yet learned to smooth over the rough edges. But it's still there when you're a grown-up. Your friends just won't tell you so explicitly. 😉

  3. Thanks so much for your post Ashley!
    My recent post Balancing Frugality With Fun

  4. I think you summed it up great with this one line “It requires focusing on the people in your life rather than your stuff.” That is so true. The moments we have with those we love are the most fun and most rewarding and those memories we will have forever. Stuff fades and breaks but your friendships and memories always live on.
    My recent post Frugal Fun

  5. I have to admit that I have certain friends that I know not to hang out with when my funds are low. Some people do not understand the concept of budget lol
    My recent post Fun or Frugality – That is the Question

    • I have had people like that in my life too FSYA! That's good that you've ID'd them and know how to respond appropriately to the situation!
      My recent post Carnival of Personal Finance 310 – Most Expensive Hotel Rooms in the World – May 23rd- 2011 Edition

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