Most of us are overspending on overrated items that don’t bring us any more than a fleeting moment of happiness. Fortunately, there are ways you can resist the urge to spend mindlessly. You could track every cent that leaves your wallet, but this may be a bit of a hassle. If counting every penny doesn’t sound like much fun, you could try to cut all discretionary spending, just to see how much you can save from a lifestyle change.
If this is daunting, you can easily do a trial run. During the “No-Spend Weekend,” the challenge is simple: avoid spending any money and see just how much fun you can still have on a limited budget. By the time Monday rolls around, you may realize the changes aren’t nearly as drastic as you thought. Here are just a few ways to enjoy your no-spend weekend.
It can be fun to go out and do things every weekend, but when you have an activity to distract you, you may forget who you went with in the first place. Set some time aside to sit and talk with your friends and family members and reconnect on a deeper level. Bonus points if you do it without the interference of electronics.
Do you have food tucked away in your cabinets that you haven’t opened yet? Look for nonperishables like soup, rice, pasta and beans. Peer in your freezer for any frozen meats or veggies. Make use of what you already have before running off to the grocery store, and when you do, go armed with coupons and a shopping list so you won’t be swayed by junk food, prepared meals or seasonal samples.
If you don’t know what to make, search for a recipe that matches your ingredients online, or invite your friends over for a potluck where you combine all the ingredients from your respective pantries to create a smorgasbord of delicious food.
Nature can be invigorating. Go for a bike ride, a hike through the forest or a walk along the beach and take in your surroundings. Geocaching, or treasure hunting using the GPS in your phone, is a fun way to get the whole family involved in outdoor life.
You’d be surprised at the number of free events your local town offers. Be on the lookout for free parks, concerts, theater performances, movie screenings, festivals, sports games and library events. Even some of the things that usually cost money, like zoos and museums, may be free on certain days of the month.
Take advantage of your lack of distraction by doing some much-needed soul searching. Are you happy where you’re at in life, or do you have goals or milestones you’d still like to reach? Alternatively, take a relaxing bath, give yourself a mani-pedi, curl up on the couch or do anything else that brings you comfort. Practicing mindfulness is a productive, relaxing way to pass the time as well. Try learning how to meditate or pick up some new yoga poses from YouTube.
If you’ve already paid for a subscription service like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, you might as well enjoy it! Don’t forget that you aren’t just limited to TV shows. Plenty of these services also offer free movies, podcasts, audiobooks, comedy albums, music and news segments that you may enjoy. Binge watch (or listen) with your family or friends if you’re craving some social interaction.
Giving back to others is a great way to meet new people, learn about your local community and feel fulfilled, all in one. Consider volunteering for a cause you don’t get to spend much time on in your day-to-day life. For example, if you always wanted to be a vet, but life had other plans for you, renew your passion for animals as a volunteer at a shelter or the local zoo. Check out your local community center or use this list of volunteering websites to find the perfect volunteer opportunity.
If you’ve already made a list of goals, this will be easy. Simply pluck an item off your list and teach it to yourself with some clever Googling and YouTube searching. Perhaps a family member or friend has an interesting hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Give them a call and see if they’d be willing to teach you.
Cleaning isn’t the most fun thing in the world, but it can be a great energy booster and stress reducer, especially if you don’t feel like being social or working out. Plus, once you’re done, you’ll feel more at peace. Have you done any of the following recently?
While you’re busy cleaning, you might as well go through your stuff to see if you can downsize. Go through your garage, closet, crawl space or attic to see if you have any hidden treasures amid the clutter. You may find something fun you can do for the day, or you may discover forgotten items you could sell to make an extra buck or donate to someone in need.
Fall in love with your home all over again by putting a new spin on it. Rearrange your couches and chairs to open up your living room, or turn your dining table a different direction to see what effect it has on the space. Move potted plants, wall art, clocks and other decorations into new rooms to see if they work better there. If you really want to get creative, create your own painting or hang some photos you took yourself to personalize your room.
While you’re being mindful of your finances, now is a great time to set some new financial goals. By looking at your e-statements and bills, you can get a good feel for where you’re overspending. Did you go out to eat more than five times in the past month? Are you paying for 500 cable channels you don’t even use? These might be some easy places to save each month.
Maybe you already did your no-spend weekend and loved the results. Now you want more money-saving tips. Good news – American Financial Solutions can help! Our certified counselors are available to offer credit, student loan, housing and bankruptcy counseling as well as debt management by phone or live chat.
Over the past 18 years, we’ve helped more than 400,000 people get their finances back on track. Give us a call today at (888) 864-8548 to get started on your financial journey.