It’s a no-brainer that life is better when you’re not worried about money. Nobody wants to stress about bills or debt, which is why so many people begin budgeting. But how do you stick with it for the long haul? One way is to find non-monetary rewards.
It’s easy to miss the quality-of-life perks that come with cleaning up your finances if you’re focused exclusively on where to cut back or how big your savings has grown. Take, for example, fun and leisure. Here are just three of the ways that smart money habits can supercharge your social life.
1 – Say “Yes” to Awesome Memories
Rule Two, Embrace Your True Expenses, is all about making your money boring … not your life. So, when you sit down to brainstorm your budget categories, don’t forget to account for the large, infrequent FUN stuff, too (not just your car insurance premium or annual trip to the vet).
Is your favorite band’s tour stopping in your city this year? Do your friends plan an annual ski trip? Is Christmas, like, a really big deal at your house? Then start saving! I mean, what feels better, saying “yes” to take-out after work or saying “yes” to special plans with your favorite people?
2 – Keep the “Fun” in Funds
And, while you’re planning for the big picture, don’t forget to have a little fun along the way. Set up budget categories for the little things (eating out, movies, etc.) or give yourself an allowance to spend at will, a.k.a., fun money.
Even if your budget is super tight, budgeting even just a little bit of fun money can go a long way. You just have to get creative. For example, if you give yourself $20 of fun money each month, you could blow all of it on a single meal out or you could grab four $5 coffees (which is one coffee date every weekend!).
3 – Set Yourself up to Enjoy the Moment
Tax returns, birthday money, bonus checks and even the odd utility bill that’s a few bucks lower than usual … you can squander them on something meaningless that you’ll forget by next month (hello, air fryer), or you can turn them into the most valuable thing of all: freedom.
Pad your Christmas savings, put the cash towards your debt or tuck it away for plane tickets to your next vacation. The important thing is, if you make a habit of mindfully giving all of your dollars a job before you start spending them, when irregular and/or surprise income drops into your bank account, you can use it to get ahead.
… and when you’re ahead—in control of your cash—it’s amazingly freeing. Your confidence goes up, stress levels plummet and, best of all, when it’s time to relax, you actually can.
Your Next Step
Budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. So what do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress?