Home > 2015 > Personal Finance

5 Ways to Make Living on a Budget More Fun

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 0 Comments

If you think the words budget and fun don’t belong in the same sentence, you may be looking at budgeting all wrong.

Sure, living on a budget isn’t as fun as going to an all-inclusive resort for a week wearing your new pair of shoes, but it doesn’t have to be drudgery either. In fact, if you spin how you approach budgeting to make it more of a game than an obligation, you may even find you look forward to the process.

1. See How Long You Can Go Without Spending a Cent

The easiest way to game yourself into saving money is seeing how long you can go without spending any money at all.

  • No milk in the house? Can you wait a day before picking it up?
  • Big meeting at the office tomorrow? Can you unearth an outfit from the back of your closet to wear?
  • Holiday party coming up? Can you re-gift something you’ve never used?

Envision this challenge a bit like the workplace safety signs that announce how many days a factory has gone without an accident. But instead of measuring accidents, you’re tracking how many days you go without spending. Once you buy something, reset the days to zero and try again to see if you can beat your previous record.

Obviously, monthly bills like the rent aren’t included, and because everyone has to eat, you could exempt food purchases. However, if you have a large stockpile in the pantry and freezer, I vote for including food in your no-spending challenge.

2. Discover the Money Hidden in Your House

Living on a budget isn’t only about saving money; it’s also about finding money that can be used to supplement your income.

Just as you made a game of seeing how long you could go without spending, make it a game to see how much money you can find lurking in the nooks and crannies of your house. I’m not talking about change in the couch here. I’m talking about all the stuff crammed into your closets that you never use.

Find a couple of items — maybe old clothes or sports equipment — and list them on eBay or Craigslist. See what you can make. Then, find some more stuff the next week or month and see if you can make more.

You can challenge yourself or pull in your spouse or roommate. Create a competition to see who can make the most money each month by selling off their excess clutter. Up the ante by creating a reward — maybe the winner gets to relax while the loser does the dishes for a week.

3. Challenge Yourself to Find a Free Fun Activity Every Week

Entertainment can be a major budget leak. You go out for drinks and go a little wild with your tab. Or you take the kids to the budget movie and end up treating them to dinner before and ice cream after.

Fortunately, there are a ton of free activities out there, from festivals to library programs to nature centers. Rather than defaulting to whatever your go-to, money-sucking entertainment option is, challenge yourself to find something free to do every week (or month, if that’s more your social pace).

Then invite your friends along, and don’t feel like you have to tell them you want to go because it’s free. Simply say you heard about the event and want to check it out.

Now, the key is to avoid taking a free activity and turning it into a money-splurging event. You may tempted to think that because you’re saving money with the free entertainment, you can spend more elsewhere. Wrong. Try to make the outing completely free, or as close to it as humanly possible.

4. Find or Create a Budget Accountability Group

Everything is more fun when you do it with someone else. Budgeting is no different.

Slogging along on your own to manage your money can be lonely, but if you have some people with similar goals cheering you along, you may find it easier to stay motivated.

There are a couple of ways to do this. You can identify some like-minded friends and suggest you start a Facebook group or email chain in which you each check in every day or maybe once a week. It’s an opportunity for everyone to share their goals and progress toward them.

If you don’t have a group of friends in the real world who’d be interested in creating a budget accountability group, look online. Check out personal finance blogs for virtual inspiration or head to a message board to find those like-minded individuals you may be missing in the real world.

5. Ditch Pen & Paper for an App

In my perfect world, someone would create an app like Pact to reward us for sticking with our budgets. Unfortunately, my perfect world doesn’t exist.

Still, there are plenty of apps that can help you track and manage money, and for some people, these can make the process of sticking to your spending goals infinitely more fun than plugging numbers into a spreadsheet. We’ve reviewed some of these apps previously.

Another app that may be helpful is Urge. It lets you record every time you say no to a purchase and then “credits” that money toward a financial goal or dream purchase. Say no enough and, in theory, you should have money in the bank to buy whatever that thing is that you really want.

This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.

More from Money Talks News:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team