Living on a budget isn’t always easy and from experience, I know that you can sometimes feel like there’s no room in your finances for the fun stuff because everything else seems more important. However, I’ve found that it’s really important to find some room in your budget for fun – even just a small amount now and again. You just need to learn how to make the most of whatever you’ve managed to set aside.
We’re lucky as we’re at the stage where we can set aside some money each month for family fun so on payday, I withdraw that money and keep it in an envelope separate to the rest of our money. I call it our fun money and although it’s not a huge amount, you’ll be surprised at how far it stretches, especially when you combine it with the free things you can do in your area!
We try and plan in something for every weekend. It could be that we might do the pictures one weekend as our local cinema (yours too I imagine) do a family morning showing where tickets are just £1.50 each with a choice of three or four films to watch. That means a family of four can go to the cinema for less than the price of one normal priced adult ticket. Just beware of popcorn and snacks as they can shoot the price right up!
We also do things like visiting the local soft play centre and the local skate park although to be honest I try and avoid soft play like the plague, partly because of the £5 each entry and partly because of the unavoidable ear piercing screeching. Last time we were there I actually had to ask a parent to stop her child from licking my son!
Sometimes we go for milkshakes after school at the local diner to celebrate good things, but I’m always aware of what’s left in the fun money envelope. This means if we do something unexpected or spend more than we’ve budgeted for then I know that we’ll need to do less for the rest of the month.
But when I say that we’ll do less, I don’t mean that we’ll have less fun, just that we’ll do more free things. There are so many activities and opportunities that won’t cost you a penny and actually, even without a budget, can be just as entertaining and enjoyable as a pricey day out.
We go for walks to the beach and walks to the woods. We put our wellies on and splash in puddles or kick through piles of leaves and when the weather’s nice we have water balloon fights and Nerf gun wars in the garden. Even washing the car can be a fun job if you don’t take the task too seriously – you’ll usually end up with a less than perfect finish on the car but very wet and happy children!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that everyone needs a little fun in their lives, even if there’s not much money spare. It makes cutting back and doing without other things much easier to do!
Trust me, I’ve been there!