In my early twenties I worked in a bar earning just over the minimum wage. I thought budgeting on such a small salary was impossible. I was often late paying my rent, ran out of money for food and had to be bailed out by my parents on more than one occasion. Before you say it I know, I was incredibly fortunate to have my parents support and there are those that do not have parents who are able to loan them money in times of need – making budgeting even more essential.
It got so bad I even lost weight as a result of not being able to afford food. The crazy thing is that I was wasting money on fast food when I could have, with just a little planning, bought healthy food at a supermarket which would have been cheaper and lasted longer. Impulsive spending to make myself feel good and a lack of financial discipline were at the root of my problem.
Here are some of the cheap ways which we can make ourselves feel good that I’ve picked up along my budgeting journey:
- Buy a large carton of hot chocolate at a supermarket to be used as a pick me up
- Buy some scented bubble bath to be used as a treat
- Have a treat budget and once you’ve spent it for the month revert to hot chocolate and bubble bath
- Buy three DVD’s of fun movies you would watch over and over and create a fun girly night in, where everyone brings their own food and drink to share – a very cheap way to enjoy time with friends!
- Limit yourself to only three alcoholic drinks when out and then drink soft drinks (or even cheaper – tap water)
- Ditch the expensive restaurants in favor of pub lunches
- Buy cut meat and vegetables to make your food budget last longer and always get the longest best before dates
- Limit cooking from recipes to one night a week as this can be expensive
- Go on walks and take a sandwich picnic
- Go to free museums for a fun day out
- Read Time Out’s list of free events in your area
- Talk to a friend on the phone
- Invite a friend to your house and make dinner – you can each pay for half
- Watch YouTube videos (they have thousands of good documentaries and movies) and / or TED Talks
- Read a good book or your favorite inspirational blogs
- Listen to your favorite music
- Visualize how you will achieve your goals
- Cuddle your pet
- Spend time with family
In terms of financial discipline, working with cash envelopes is key (but more on that in the coming weeks).
What reasons do you think you have for overspending? Do you have any cheap feel good activities you can think of that weren’t featured in my list? What is your naughty treat that blows your budget and can you think of a cheaper substitute? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.