In our last posts Dani and I talked to you all about our individual struggles with money and how we are trying to make things work. Sometimes the desire to make more money is stronger than the desire to keep doing what makes us happy (or happier). We are so lucky to have each other and supportive friends and family to remind us that it's OK to make a little less money than what we might want. It's OK not to take extravagant vacations. It's OK not to go out to eat a lot. It's OK to just make it work with what we have and be happy with where we are.
I wrote those things in my last blog post. I wrote about how I almost applied for a job that I already knew wouldn't make me happy or bring me closer to my dreams. I wrote about how money has been stressing me out and how I'm really thankful to have people remind me to chill out. I wrote about how amazing it is to have this little space on the internet where I get the opportunity to share my struggles and successes with you lovely people. Today I want to write about something very practical: how to live an awesome and creative life on a budget.
Are you ready? Come on, we got this!
Figure out what your budget really is.
This step might seem obvious but I like to cover all of my bases (oh hey, I just made a sportsball reference!). In order to live an awesome and creative life on a budget you have to know what that budget is. How much can you spend on groceries? Bills? Gas? Going out? Clothes? Fun stuff? Figure it all out and stick to it! You won't regret it. (**this is still something I'm trying to get the hang of so if you're not there yet, know that I'm with you!**)
Plan. Plan. Plan. And then plan some more :)
If you can set aside a day or a few hours a week to plan out what you will do tomorrow, next week, next month, etc., you will save yourself so much time and money. This is especially true for grocery shopping (which I'm sure you know) but easily carries over into things like shopping, date night, filling up free time, cleaning, cooking, basically you name it and planning will help you get it done more efficiently and for less $$$ (and who doesn't want that?).
Know that you don't have to figure out everything all at once.
Don't stress yourself out trying to come up with plans. I mean it. Set aside the time, put forth some effort, but if you can't figure everything out today, don't stress about it. Stress isn't good for anything.
Take advantage of deals
Some of you may be super coupon-ers (and if that's you, please, show me your ways) but most of us probably don't want to put that amount of time and effort into saving a few bucks. Luckily, you can still find awesome deals without clipping coupons! Here are some of my favorite ways to save money:
- Target REDCard: I save 5% every time I shop at Target and use my REDCard. The REDCard isn't a credit card, it links directly with your bank account!
- Target Cartwheel app: This app is awesome and free and gives you access to pretty sweet deals and discounts on Target merchandise. Just download the app, search for what you need, select the deals you want and let the cashier scan the barcode on your phone when you checkout! I saved $30 TODAY with my REDCard + Cartwheel app.
- Groupon: I have saved the most money with Groupon when buying gifts for other people. Groupon is awesome people- save yo' self some money.
- Southwest: If you like to travel you should definitely sign up to receive e-mails from Southwest Airlines. They run awesome deals throughout the years and sometimes you can find flights for as little as $49 one-way! I booked myself a flight to see Dani in Denver later this year for less than $100 round trip! WINNING!!!
- Amazon: Ok for real. If you need/want something, look it up on Amazon to see if you can find it for a better price than the store is advertising. I've saved a lot of money buying books through Amazon (and I mean a lot of money).
- Big Lots, Ross and other discount stores: These types of discount stores can save you a lot of money on common household items, decor, food, storage, clothes, etc. If you don't mind digging a little bit and making semi-frequent trips, these stores should be your jam.
Find local activities that won't cost you too much to do
Check out what your city has to offer that wont cost you a lot of money but will give you a lot of memories and a super fun day! In OKC we have things like the Sonic Movie Nights or Sunday Twilight Concert Series at the Myriad Botanical Gardens that are FREE! Both events are super family friendly, fun, and wont cost you a single cent!
Here are some ideas of free (or close to free) things you can do:
- happy hour specials
- discounted movie tickets (usually before 4 or 5 pm)
- farmer's markets ( a really fun way to spend a weekend morning!)
- parks for public tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts, fields for soccer and baseball, etc. (more sportsball- you get the idea)
- museum + zoo (some offer free days)
Just check out what's happening in your community and go have yourself a good time FO' FREE!
Do you have some super awesome ways to save money? A list of amazing things to do for free? How creative can you get with spending less and loving life? Let us know in the comments!