Liz has spent the last year on a journey of doing more with less.
Doesn't mean going without
Living frugally doesn't have to mean going without. With the right attitude and approach, living frugally is about setting priorities to cut out the excess and better enjoy what you have. Below are some tips to save money so that you can splurge on what you really want. Remember, with the exceptions of actual necessities (housing, clothing, food, transportation, and utilities), you decide where your money goes, and even within the necessities, there is usually some wiggle room.
On a tight budget, hobbies and entertainment are usually one of the first things on the chopping block. Before completely cutting them from your life, take a look at what your hobby is and look for less expensive options.
Stop overbuying and look for less expensive options: Are you a bibliophile that is always buying the latest books? Rather than rushing out to buy the latest hardcover, see if your local library has a copy or wait a little bit until it is available in paperback or used at your local resale shop. Hardcover books can run over $20, while paperbacks may cost between $7 and $15, and used books may be as low as fifty cents. With free and heavily discounted e-books from sources like BookBub.com, Amazon, or your local library, e-books may be an even cheaper option but usually require the purchase of an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook. Try not to get too far ahead of yourself with an extensive collection that you will never read.
If you enjoy movies, you don't have to shun the theaters. If you really love the experience of sitting in a theater with a big screen and huge sound, check your local theater for matinee times. Hold back on snacks or order small sizes since many theaters offer free or reduced-price refills. Check for movie clubs or frequent viewer memberships if you have a preferred movie chain. This may provide discounts on tickets or snacks or even free shows. Be cautious if there is a fee attached depending on how often you will be using it.
Narrow down your interests: Sports are fun activities that are also good for your health, but not all sports are created equally in cost. Some sports like golf and tennis have equipment that can get expensive, and many activities require paying for a venue or membership. Think of golf tee-times or racquetball sessions or even bowling or softball league membership. Pick one or two sports that you truly enjoy and weigh out what your investment will be. Golf requires clubs, a bag, and several balls that will need to be replaced in time. Sports like basketball or football require one ball that usually lasts. Also, consider at what level you will be competing. You may need higher-end gear or coaching.
If you're a crafter, you may find yourself split between multiple projects like sewing, knitting, and painting. Try to stick to one thing at a time and avoid crafting ADD. This will prevent spending money on projects you will ever get around to or leave unfinished.
Find a way to turn your hobby into money: Start a blog or YouTube channel to discuss topics of interest like reviewing books that you've read or movies you've watched. If you are good at sports or video gaming, there are people that will pay for coaching or tutoring. You may even be able to sell your used books or completed craft projects for money.
Everyone needs a little break or getaway sometimes, but vacations can come with a huge price tag. While many people dream of a tropical vacation or a theme park with the whole family, this isn't feasible for everyone. So what else can you do to get away without breaking the bank?
Stay local: Save costs associated with fuel or flights and maybe even lodging, and keep things close to home, whether taking a staycation or staying somewhere only an hour or two away. This keeps your money in the local economy and can be a cheaper alternative to paying usually inflated prices at touristy hotspots.
Look for free activities: Sometimes museums or zoos offer free days, or some smaller museums are purely donation-supported with a pay-what-you-can model. Many parks are free and offer a great way to get close to nature and stretch your legs.
Check deal sites: Sites like Groupon offer discounts on activities and lodging, but you should also cross-reference multiple sources to ensure you are getting the best deal. Sites like Groupon will often include packages with extras you may not need or will have a fine print from the business about how it can be used. Travel websites like Orbitz or Travelocity can also be good sources for travel deals, but once again, compare against the hotel or airline's website to make sure it is the best deal. Travel sites may have extra fees or cancellation and rescheduling limitations.
Think outside the box: Remember, getting there is half the fun! Get creative with your travel plans. Rather than spending a day navigating the turmoil of an airport just to fly on a cramped plane, take a train, and enjoy a different way of traveling that includes interesting scenery and changes getting from point A to point B into a fun journey.
If taking a road trip, check out roadside attractions (AKA tourist traps). These are some of the best ways to break up a long drive and can be some of the best hidden gems that create memories.
© 2021 Liz Woodward
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on May 31, 2021:
I would prefer to go to my own village in the serene hills.