[The following is a guest post by Miranda Marquit, about the need to budget fun into our finances]
Budget Fun Into Your Family Finances
When many of us think of budgets, we immediately groan – and think of restrictions. While it is important to make sure that you save money, get good deals and avoid debt, you also need to think of your budget as a way to enable you to have fun. While you’re going through your monthly budget, make sure that you include a little enjoyment.
Part of effective budgeting is prioritizing your spending. Think about what is important to you, and what you really like to do. If you enjoy playing video games, don’t impulsively spend money on a new DVD. Budget your discretionary income so that you can be the things that are most important to you.
This can also include saving up for a vacation or a major purchase. Remind yourself that your priority is to enjoy that family trip. Budget your money so that you can set some aside in savings so that you can go on your trip in four months instead of seven. When you are budgeting in the fun stuff, you need to make sure that your spending reflects your values – and you need to make sure your needs (food, shelter, transportation, etc.) are covered first.
The fun category in your simple budget doesn’t need to be huge in order for you to enjoy yourself. There are plenty of entertaining things you can do for less. Sign up for daily deals and discounts to see if you can score a promo price on some of your entertainment and recreation costs.
Also, consider low-cost activities. A picnic in the park is a great activity – and it doesn’t require a large expenditure. Bike riding, family game night, a Red Box movie with homemade popcorn, and a neighborhood scavenger hunt are all low-cost activities that everyone can enjoy.
You can even save money on family outings. Go to a matinee, or go to the $2 movie, instead of visiting an expensive theater during the evening. Instead of getting goodies at the show, go out for ice cream afterward. Look for discount passes, free admission days and local specials at museums, amusement parks and zoos. During the summer, many city parks feature free concerts.
When you make your fun budget, make sure you consider the ways you can save money and have a little inexpensive fun. You might find that the “fun” portion of your budget doesn’t need to be as big as you thought.
Leaving fun out of your budget can leave you feeling deprived. However, it doesn’t have to break the budget. Carefully consider how much you can spend on enjoyment each month, and then look for activities that fit into that budget. With some creativity, and a focus on activities that provide you the opportunity for some family fun, you might be surprised at how much fun you can have, no matter your budget.
Miranda writes for a variety of personal finance web sites, including the AllBusiness Personal Finance Corner and InsuranceQuotes.org, a site specializing in online insurance quotes.
photo by photostock