budget

How to Budget Without Sacrificing What You Enjoy

5 Minute Read

No two budgets are exactly alike because no two people are exactly alike. Thank goodness!

That’s the beauty of a budget. You get to decide who or what gets your money each month. If you love cooking for your family, budget more for groceries. If you love working out, budget more for a great gym. You’re the boss.

But what if you start noticing that you’re overspending on those gourmet groceries or aerobic boxing classes? All of a sudden you’re paying more for these than your monthly rent or mortgage!

So how do you strike the right balance between doing what you love and budgeting for your money goals? Here are a few ways to save on some of the most fun categories without cutting them out completely.

1. Groceries

You’re addicted to cooking shows. And you’re always impressing your crew with an exotic dish from a country you can barely pronounce. It’s a challenge you love.

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Budget Trick: That truffle oil and those imported sauces aren’t cheap. Instead of wowing your family with 5-star meals every night, go crazy one or two nights a week. The rest of the time, keep it simple with a nice salad or loaded baked potatoes.

Related: Save Time and Money By Growing These 5 Veggies

2. Gyms

You’re training for your next marathon. Way to go! You’re in the best shape of your life thanks to your lovably tough personal trainer, Mr. T.

Budget Trick: Instead of paying the A-Team for an elite workout, why not replace a few of those sessions with an online streaming service? You’ll still get a great workout and you definitely won’t get bored.

3. Travel

New experiences are more important to you than new things. That’s why you can’t wait for that cruise to Alaska or that flight to the Big Apple.

Budget Trick: You’ll want to do more than sit in your cabin or hotel room during your trip. Before you take off, research great local dives that are off the beaten path and don’t inflate their prices for tourists. Good old-fashioned coupons work too!

4. Entertainment

From superhero flicks to buddy comedies, you love movies. It’s how you and your spouse chill out. It’s a mini-escape from work, kids and life.

Budget Trick: A night at the theater can hit your wallet hard, especially after paying for a babysitter. Pick one or two movies per month that you’re dying to see opening week. Wait for the rest. Then put the kids to bed, pop in some fridge-to-oven cookies, and stream to your heart’s content.

5. Restaurants

Who doesn’t enjoy eating out? It’s convenient and no dishes! Plus, food always tastes better when somebody else cooks it. Yum!

Budget Trick: Figure out a reasonable amount of restaurant spending for your family—maybe that’s twice a week, maybe that’s twice a month. Then, prepare everything else at home. Use a Sunday afternoon, for example, to chop and freeze some slow cooker meals for the week. 

Related: 7 Money Mistakes to Avoid at Restaurants

6. Clothes

Fashion Week should be every week. You can’t get enough new clothes, shoes and accessories to satisfy your passion. Great-looking clothes make you feel great.

Budget Trick: Fashion is fickle. Invest in quality pieces but buy everything else at less expensive stores, maybe even consignment. That way, you’ll stretch your budget instead of your credit card limit.

7. Cable

This year alone, there will be more than 400 scripted shows on prime-time TV. That’s a lot of good (and bad) TV. And you can’t wait!

Budget Trick: If you’ve gotta have your TV fix, look for affordable alternatives to cable that still provide the shows you already watch, like Sling TV, Netflix or HBO Now.

Related: 9 Cost-Effective Alternatives to Cable

8. Electronics

Apple Announcement Day is a holiday as far as you’re concerned. That’s when you get to drool over all the awesome new technology coming out. In a few short weeks, you’ll be the coolest kid on the block.

Budget Trick: If you need the “next new thing,” prepare for the cost by selling your old device. Don’t just toss it to the kids or throw it in the drawer with all your flip phones and iPod nanos.

9. Decorating

Every now and then, you get an itch to spruce up your surroundings. So you buy a new rug. Then you decide to paint the room . . . and get new throw pillows . . . and find new chairs. Same room, new bling.

Budget Trick: It’s great to freshen things up, but don’t get carried away. You can usually achieve the same results by rearranging some furniture and buying a new set of curtains. Presto chango!

You don’t have to choose between enjoying life or saving money. You can do both with the right budget. Get started with an EveryDollar budget today!

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