A budget! It’s crippling! It’s no fun! It’s for old people! You can learn how to budget and still have fun. In fact, you can have more fun with your friends and family and still be on a budget because you will be able to enjoy your life more.
It can be tough when you get out of school or early in your career when everyone makes different amounts of money and has different amounts of debt. You might be on a starting salary of $40,000/year and have $50,000 in student loans while your best friend is making $60,000/year and had their parents pay all of their tuitions.
The reality is you can’t afford the same lifestyle your friends, family, and co-workers may be able to. But if you budget correctly you’ll still be able to have fun, hang with your friends and get out of debt.
Here’s what’s not fun
There is an alternative if you don’t want to budget. But it isn’t very fun:
- Being broke
- Never having enough
- Not being able to do what you want
- Being in debt
- Being worried about debt
- Feeling insecure about your future
- Having to say no or I can’t
In one quick swoop, the power of a budget starts eliminating your fears and making your dreams a reality. Check out these tips on how to have fun on a budget and still maintain your relationships.
1. Plan ahead
A budget is spending plan. You use it to control where your money goes instead of wondering where it went. By knowing in advance things like:
- I’ll have $150 this month to spend on going out
- I can afford a $500 vacation this year
- I can go out tonight, but I can get a salad and a diet coke, not a glass of wine, appetizers, a sandwich, and dessert.
Planning the activities can also put you in charge of how much it’s going to cost. I’m the cruise director in my house. I can plan a night in and have a game night where everyone brings drinks and snacks (cheap), or a night out at a new restaurant (not cheap).
2. Give alternatives
Not everyone can afford a quick weekend trip to Vegas to see a show. If you still want to hang with your friends suggest a less pricey alternative.
I’d say suggest camping, but I’m never going camping.
A cheap Airbnb split several ways that you can drive to is much more affordable than a couple of nights at MGM Grand plus airfare.
When you give options to people, you let them know you want to spend time with them.
3. Don’t be afraid to say no
You are responsible for your happiness. At the end of the day, you really do need to do what’s best for you and your family.
Nobody else is going to pay off your debts or fund your retirement.
If you can’t afford to do something, you can’t afford to do it. Politely decline the invitation. You don’t have to make up an excuse.
Sorry, I’m not able to make it.
is a perfectly valid response. Some people will leave it at that. If you get pressed, you can reply “Because I can’t make it“. Most people will not press the issue beyond that. If they do, they are the ones that have to get over it – not you.
Your true friends will be with you through good times and bad.
4. Spend your money on the important stuff
Even eating at a restaurant can blow your budget if you aren’t careful. Are you going out to eat, or to spend time with friends or family? My husband has no problem ordering a diet coke at a restaurant and not eating anything. Especially if it’s a type of food he doesn’t like.
I can’t understand why not everyone likes Mexican.
It’s possible to go out and spend less, as long as you are mindful of what’s important to you.
Related: 34 Ways To Save Money On Eating Out
In the end, we all want to spend time with friends and family. But it often costs money to go out. It’s ok to say no. However, to preserve those relationships, it’s up to you to reach out and offer suggestions that fit your budget.