What comes to mind when you think about saving money and budgeting? Maybe you think about all the things you want right now but can’t afford because they’re not in your budget. Or, if you may think about what you’re saving for and how great making that purchase will feel.
In either case, the act of saving money is rarely fun. Which is why we’ve put together this list of a few fun ways to save.
Host a Chaos Cooking dinner. Eating out is a major expense for many people, but grabbing lunch or dinner with friends is also a fun way to socialize. How can you save but keep the fun? Spice up a dinner party by following the lead of Chaos Cooking. It’s like a potluck, but instead of everyone bringing prepared food they only bring ingredients. Everyone cooks their dishes together and as the name implies it can get chaotic.
Cut your own hair. This might cause terror rather than feelings of fun for some, but if you’re not comfortable cutting your own hair at least consider cutting your kids’ or partner’s. A one-time investment in a high-quality buzzer ($40-$60) will pay for itself multiple times over in the coming months.
Make cleaners instead of buying them. Learning a new skill and using your hands to make something practical can be a lot of fun. Many household cleaners, such as laundry detergent and an all-purpose cleaning spray, are easy to make (here are some instructions). Invite friends to join in on the fun – everyone can bring an ingredient.
Buy an old calendar. This isn’t a substantial savings opportunity – after all calendars don’t cost that much – but it’s pretty fun. You can reuse calendars that matching years, e.g. 1996 and 2016. Find an old calendar at a yard sale or online and you can take the vintage look into your home or office.
Share large celebrations with friends. Between catering, location rentals, invitations, and entertainment large parties can cost a lot of money. You can cut costs and still have lots of fun by sharing special days with others. Talk to other parents and celebrate several kids’ birthdays at once. If you don’t have kids, celebrate your birthday with a friend. Or, if you don’t mind sharing the day, you can save thousands by having a double wedding.
Stay at hostels when traveling. Hostels are sometimes filled with rowdy college students and recent grads, but others have a relaxed atmosphere and welcome everyone. Book a private room if you’d prefer a space of your own, it’s still often less than nearby hotels. Plus, if you’re traveling on your own it’s easy to make friends.
Play “find it for less” with yourself. Before making an impulse purchase at a store, play a little game. Give yourself one day to find it for less online. Chances are you can combine sales, coupon codes, and free shipping offers to save money.
Challenge yourself to the 52-week savings plan. The 52-week money challenge is a simple and fun way to save money. You start by savings $1 and each week you increase your savings amount by $1 (week two you save $2, week three you save $3, etc). By the end of the year, you’ll have about $1,400 set aside. There are also some fun modifications to the 52-week challenge that you can try.
Make money from your hobby. It’s said that the best defense is a good offense, in the same vein sometimes it makes more sense to focus on earning than saving. Can you turn something you do for fun anyway into extra money? If you enjoy crafting, consider selling items on Etsy or at local events. Gardeners can sell plants and herbs. There are many ways to earn money if you exercise for fun.
Start a book club. Many people want to read more than they do, but it can be hard to find the time. Start or join a book club and the added social pressure can help keep you on task. Make club meetings a social event complete with snack and drinks, but keep the discussion focused on the book.