Are You Balancing Frugal Living With Fun?

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The following is a guest post I wrote 3 months ago for Money Talks Coaching Blog as part of the 7th Yakezie Personal Finance Network blog “swap,” a monthly event where participants of the Yakezie group pair off and exchange posts on a common topic. 


The topic for this particular month was “balancing frugality with fun.” You can check out the original copy of this post over at Money Talks Coaching by clicking here. Also, be sure to read Ashley @ Money Talks Coaching’s swapped post on my site at the following link – Balancing Frugality With Fun


So, let’s see. Frugal fun. At first glance, this phrase might seem like an oxymoron. After all, is the purpose of having money not to spend it doing things that we enjoy? Why does one even need to be frugal?

In my opinion, balancing frugality with fun is important because all of us (unless we are super-wealthy) need to save a certain amount of money in order to live comfortably and indeed have fun (there’s that word again!) during our retirement years.

Listed below are several of the techniques that I employ to both 1) be frugal and 2) have fun living at the same time. Enjoy!

Know Your Budget

As a general rule, I don’t feel that budgets (at least in a general sense) work all that well. 
However, I do feel that it is important to track your spending for approximately 1-2 months each time you move to a new place in order to get a feel for what your fixed and variable expenses are each month and in which categories they belong. Doing this will give you a gauge of 1) how much you currently are spending for entertainment/fun purposes and 2) how much you can afford to spend on entertainment.

Automate Your Savings

As I mentioned in the previous section, I don’t feel that budgets, in the general sense, work for most people. What I mean by this is that let’s say you make $5000 per month in your job. Your budget can tell you that your target is to save $2000 of this for your emergency fund. However, if you merely leave the money in your account with the intention of deducting it at the end of the month, you will likely find that you have spent this money earmarked for your savings.

Because of this, the method I promote is the idea of automating your savings each month. This can be done by setting up recurring, scheduled money transfers from your checking to savings account 1-2 days after you get paid. By doing this, you trick your brain in to thinking that you don’t have access to those funds anymore.

And, with the money you have left in your account after your required automatic transfer, you can spend as you need to on entertainment or regular monthly expenses.

Balancing Frugality With Awesome Vacations

At times, it may seem impossible to live frugally and still somehow have enough money saved up to go on the type of vacation that will leave you with lasting memories for many years.

However, the way that I balance frugality with vacations is to 1) decide how much I can afford to save each month for a future vacation, 2) use this monthly savings target to calculate realistically, when I will be able to take the vacation, and 3) set up an automatic monthly transfer (at the beginning of the month) to a savings account set up specifically for the purpose of vacation savings.

In this way, I ensure that I go on the vacations I want and be frugal at the same time.

Live and Save According To Your Purpose-Focused Financial Plan

At the risk of sounding like a broken record by the amount of times I’ve promoted the value and use of creating what author David Bach calls a Purpose Focused Financial Plan, I will once again mention that having this system set up in my life enables me to balance frugality with fun.
At a high level, the aim of this plan is to ensure that you use money to accomplish the things that provide you with satisfaction at a deep, moral/soul level. I’ve briefly summarized the steps to creating this plan in your life below:
  • Determine the importance and purpose of money in your life
  • Determine your life values
  • Determine your life dreams
  • Automate your finances so that you can accomplish your life dreams and values.

Basically, by implementing my Purpose Focused Financial Plan (and most importantly, automating it), I ensure that I accomplish things each month that are fun and provide value to me at a deep level. And, having fun with these things that really matter helps me to resist the need to spend money on frivolous, often more costly, “fun” activities.

For example, my automated Purpose Focused Financial Plan dictates that I save/spend money each month for doing at least one cycling or running race (which I really enjoy and fulfills my life value of healthy living) and for a future vacation the Grand Canyon (one of my life dreams).

Make Saving Money a Fun Hobby

For anyone that has read my blog previously, I think it probably is plainly obvious that finances and saving money is a fun hobby of mine. By thinking of saving as something I enjoy, instead of a hindrance in the way of having fun, it enables me to accomplish my financial goals whilst being happy at the same time!

How about you all? How do you balance frugal living with fun? 


Share your experiences by commenting below!

    ***Photo courtesy of http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2783/4473975639_2753cee7fc.jpg

    Comments

    1. We love to travel and take one major trip overseas every other year. We usually have a much smaller trip between. For example, we visited my cousin in Vancouver, BC last summer.
      My recent post Guest Posting

    2. Wow… I can't believe that was three months ago!! Time flies.

      I just started a new free and fun hobby… Geocaching. It's so fun and completely free.
      My recent post Are You Ready to Die?

      • I know right Ashley?! Time is flying by!!

        I've heard Geocaching is a blast, especially for kids! I did something similar to that several months ago, except it was more of a race through the woods with compasses. I forgot the exact name of it, but it was fun!
        My recent post More Money and a Raise, Please!

    3. Automating savings was the smartest move I ever made. I don't even miss the money – it's just another expense like my utility bills or phone bill. It's amazing how quickly it adds up!

      I haven't gotten to the fun part yet… Right now I'm too busy saving and paying off debt! I am planning some travel next fall once I get some more money saved. And I'm going to start geocaching, like Ashley mentioned, but haven't had a free weekend to do it yet.
      My recent post Roundup: Cool Personal Finance Posts

      • Autosavings is a thing of beauty isn't it?! I've gotten so used to having my month “dream” and “life value” savings transfers deducted from my checking account, that I really view them more as a rent expense. It's amazing how one gets used to something by making it automatic!
        My recent post More Money and a Raise, Please!

    4. Yes yes I do, if I didn't have a little fun I'd spin out of control so fast you all would have to hold a PF intervention, lol.
      My recent post Yakezie Blog swap #10 round-up

    5. One cent at a time says:

      Yes, we do budget fun things. We go out for movie, dinner events, but all up to the extent budget allows us to. I keep away 50% of my income as svaing I don't touch that.
      My recent post Be Better Employee, Have Dignified Exit, How to Quit

    6. thepennyhoarder says:

      I totally agree – if you don't add some fun, it's easy to get burnt out on your goals. For me, it's all about planning the expenses of fun, otherwise the “fun” tend to stress me out. :) We both have our own checking accounts for “fun” money. At the beginning of the month, I transfer over an equal amount of entertainment money to both of our accounts.

      We are free to do whatever we want with that money – take each other out to dinner, go to the movies, buy presents, etc. It's great because our joint checking account is never hit with the unexpected. If we don't have enough money in our “fun” accounts, we don't do it.
      My recent post How to Sell Grandma’s Recipes

    7. I really like the idea of the Purpose Focused Financial Plan and would like to implement it in my own budgeting process. It really allows for you to budget in some “purposeful fun”. With many things in life, going cold turkey results in a feeling of depravity. By including some inexpensive fun in your budget, the likelihood that you succeed in attaining your goals increases dramatically (IMHO). Great post.
      My recent post Day 314 – Best Go Green Method to Save Money

      • I'm glad you liked the idea of the Purpose Focused Financial Plan, 60k! I'd highly recommend David Bach's book, Smart Couples Finish Rich, if you're looking to learn more about it. I felt really “empowered” reading it!
        My recent post More Money and a Raise, Please!

    8. KNS_Financial says:

      I think it's very important to be able to balance the two. People definitely can start to feel overwhelmed and essentially crash financially!
      My recent post Subsidized Versus Unsubsidized Stafford Loans: Why Knowing The Difference Can Save You Thousands!

    9. We love to travel and take one major trip overseas every other year. We usually have a much smaller trip between. For example, we visited my cousin in Vancouver, BC last summer.

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