Getting out of the house to spend time with friends and pursue hobbies can help make you feel happier and more productive. It can also put a dent in your budget. While there’s nothing wrong with being thrifty with your social life, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice something that makes you happy because of money.
Cutting costs couldn’t be easier. There a plenty of ways you can save money for recreational spending. By making a few simple changes, you can easily budget for your hobbies and social life.
Cook for the Week
While the occasional dinner out can be a nice break from cooking, you shouldn’t make a habit of it. You’ll be able to save plenty of time and money if you set aside a time each week to cook an assortment of meals – I usually set aside Sunday afternoons. If you make two or three different big dishes, you’ll be good for the whole week.
Do It Yourself
You’ll save tons of money by putting in a little extra work. A needle and thread can fix a holey sock. Refurbish old furniture instead of buying new stuff. You can even extend this idea for presents when the holiday season or birthdays arrive. People appreciate when they receive gifts that have thought put into them, and a nice do-it-yourself gift can show just that.
Drink More Water
Instead of wasting money on sugar beverages, switch to a healthier and cheaper option — water. Drinking water is available almost everywhere. When you’re at restaurants, you can cut at least $2 from your bill by sticking with water — money you can use for something else.
Drop Bad Habits
We all indulge in bad habits that we try to justify with weak excuses. “Just this one cigarette or one cupcake won’t hurt” eventually leads to money being spent on more things. Try some successful habits in your daily routine and drop the expensive habits. You have better uses for your money.
Buy Used Items
Used items get a bad reputation. Just because someone else owned something first doesn’t automatically make it garbage. You can find plenty of clothing still in good shape at thrift stores, and yard sales are great places to find anything from furniture to bikes.
While gas prices have been going down recently, driving more efficiently can help cut down on your costs. Find a co-worker who lives near you and see if you can trade-off on commuting to work. By splitting the driving responsibility, you can use the money you’d normally spend on gas for your recreational activities instead.
Put Thought into Big Purchases
We all have big items we want to buy — the latest video game system, a nice car, a stylish jacket. Before you commit to your purchase, take some time to look into your decision. Ask yourself if the cost of the item is justified, how much use you’ll actually get from it and if there are cheaper alternatives available. Wait 30 days before making your purchase — if you still want it after a month, it’s probably a worthwhile investment.
Adjust Your Thermostat
You’d be surprised how much 2 or 3 degrees of temperature can cost you. In the summer, keep the air mild and use fans to help circulate the cool air. In the winter, lower the temperature and throw on a sweater. You won’t lose much comfort over a few degrees.
Run Utilities during Off-Peak Hours
Energy usage has peak hours and off-peak hours. Peak hours are the most popular time of day for people to use energy and typically run from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. It is also the more expensive time as a result. Switch your routine to off-peak hours for maximum money savings.
You don’t need any complex budgets to save money for your hobbies. Cut out a few costs from different parts of your everyday life – food, utilities, bad habits – and use that money for the things you enjoy.
Kayla Matthews is a productivity blogger and calendar-planning enthusiast. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter to read all of her latest posts, or check out her blog, Productivity Theory for more productivity tips.