One of the biggest challenges I’ve found this year, even though it’s not even February yet, has been trying to save up what little money I have. I need money in order to securely move abroad; to afford plane tickets, insurance and such, and it’s difficult. I don’t have a job, I’m a student and, let’s be honest, spending money is fun. It’s how you get new clothes, tasty food, and how you get to go to nice places and enjoy yourself with friends. It’s especially difficult to save money if, like me, you have friends who live far away. It’s a general assumption that being social cost money. However, I am determined to keep in touch with my friends, have a good time and save as much money as possible.
So I’ve come up with a bunch of ideas where you can socialise, enjoy good times and good company, without breaking the bank:
Picnics are a cute and thoughtful way to dine out with friends or family and save some pennies in the process. You get to choose and prepare the food, so you know you’ll like it, and you can eat it wherever and whenever suits you. You could even prepare a picnic as a surprise for a guest or visitor as an alternative to eating out which would be a personal, considerate activity sure to make anyone smile. This tip can also be used day to day by making sure you pack a lunch for yourself, rather than buying one everyday. It really does make a difference.
Make the most of Local Landmarks and Destinations.
Galleries, Museums and Libraries are great places to visit and absorb regional, national and international culture and history, and are often free of charge. Manchester has a whole list of activities to do that are completely free. There are always fun and interesting things to check out, and it can be an especially good idea for people visiting from out of town. Who says being cultured has to cost?
Hosting people at you own home takes away the stresses of expensive dining and out of control spending. By planning, buying and preparing a meal, you can stick to a budget and enjoy good food and drinks all without having to go to a restaurant or bar. Your guests could bring food of their own to the dinner party to, to even out the cost even further and share multiple courses. I’d advise making it even more special by designing the night around a theme! Dress up, make decorations or try and cook a particular cuisine.
Whether outside or in, a games day is a great way to engage your brain and have fun, while saving money. If the weather is good, go to a local park and throw about a Frisbee, play a game of cricket or rounders (a dangerous choice for my family as we have been known to let our competitive side get the better of us). Or, throw back to your childhoods and have a game of Hide and Seek or a scavenger hunt with a prize at the end. Or if its simply too cold, or if you just want to stay inside with a regular supply of tea, get out your best selection of board games, pop the kettle on and roll the dice. Board games are a great way to entertain and if you have bowls of snacks and nibbles handy, you can make a day of it.
One of my favourite options out of them all, a movie night is a classic way to be social while on a budget. Whether with a large group, or just with one other person, a movie night is an intimate, relaxed way to get together and have a good time. A particularly fun idea is to have a movie marathon, if you have the time, and buy the snacks, sweets and drinks you might typically have at the cinema from your local supermarket so you can have a luxury cinema experience for so much cheaper. Plus, you could wear your slippers for the whole thing if you wanted…
Stop impulse buying. Plan ahead.
Do you ever head into a shop and end up with bags and bags of stuff that you didn’t actually want or need? I am frequently guilty of meaninglessly spending just because I can, or because I’m bored. I’m particularly guilty of this when I’m hungry in supermarkets, or when I feel depressed or down and I want to cheer myself with something new to wear. However, a great way to combat this is to plan before you head out to the shops. Planning before you head to a shop, or creating a list of things you need or that you want to save up for means you can look at your shopping trip objectively, with something solid in your hand to remind you not to buy stuff you don’t need. It sounds too simple to work, but the process of planning and then ticking items off keeps you focused and on track.
Don’t be afraid to use discounts, deals and coupons when you do have to spend. Be thrifty. Use loyalty cards and vouchers. If you’re a student, you have plenty of discounts available to you and you can, and should, use them. You can also take advantage of reduced sections and sales; food that is perfectly fine to use, but is close to its sell by date will be drastically cheaper, and if you find clothes or products that are slightly damaged – but repairable – you can often buy them for less and then repair them at home. Get that sewing kit out guys, make do and mend.
Find ways to do things you’d usually pay for, for free.
You may not realise just how much money of yours is being wasted on stuff you simply don’t use. Yes you may say that you will use that gym membership eventually, but in the mean time cancel your membership and just go for runs outside with a friend or exercise at home.
Reuse or Recycle.
Remember that sewing kit I mentioned before? Time to put it to good use and repair and tailor older clothes, or turn them into something new. An old pair of jeans, or a skirt, can make a great custom cushion cover. Glass jars and old coffee canisters make great containers for bulk kitchen storage items, desk organisers or bathroom containers. Old towels, clothes and bedding can be cut them up and turned into washable cleaning cloths. Refinish or reuse old furniture or disassemble them and reuse the wood. Try to re-use and recycle items as much as possible, use a little imagination and you can cut down on your ecological footprint, save your pennies and re-purpose your rubbish.
Remind yourself of your targets (and why its worth it).
Sometimes, you’re going to have to say no to stuff, and other times people will try and convince you to spend more than you should. “Go on, treat yourself. You deserve it.” At these times, remind yourself why you want to save your money, and how spending that little bit extra will effect your plans. Be sure to celebrate how well you do when you save, and use that pride and that excitement to motivate you to continue saving. It is possible to save money and still have fun, you just need to keep your resolve.
Finally I will say this, money can be a big cause of stress and anxiety for many people. We are pushed and pulled towards spending and splashing out everyday with slogans telling you that ‘you’re worth it’. Saving money can help you feel more financially secure, and its a useful habit to get into. However, if a situation arises where spending is necessary, don’t feel guilty. Unfortunately most things in this world cost money. But I hope this post helped you realise that having a good time with loved ones doesn’t have to cost you anything at all.
The best things in life are free after all.
Do you have any other ideas for ways to stay social and save money at the same time? Let me know in the comments.
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