5 Strategies That Make It Fun to Live on a Budget

Budgeting
megaflopp / Shutterstock.com

If you think the words “budget” and “fun” don’t belong in the same sentence, perhaps you are looking at budgeting all wrong.

Sure, living on a budget isn’t as fun as going to an all-inclusive resort for a week wearing a new pair of shoes. But it doesn’t have to be drudgery either. In fact, if you make budgeting more of a game than an obligation, you might even look forward to the process.

If you’re competitive by nature, these five strategies can put spending and saving money in a whole new light.

1. See how long you can go without spending a cent

The easiest way to game yourself into saving money is seeing how long you can go without spending any money at all.

  • No milk in the house? Can you wait a day before picking it up?
  • Big meeting at the office tomorrow? Can you unearth an outfit from the back of your closet?
  • Holiday party coming up? Can you re-gift something you’ve never used?

Think of this challenge in the same light as the workplace safety signs that announce how many days a factory has gone without an accident. But instead of measuring accidents, you’re tracking how many days you go without spending.

Once you buy something, reset the days to zero and try again to see if you can beat the previous record.

Obviously, monthly bills like the rent aren’t included, and you could exempt food purchases. However, if you have a large stockpile in the pantry and freezer, I vote for including food in your no-spending challenge.

2. Discover the money hidden in your house

Living on a budget is partially about finding money that can be used to supplement your income.

Make it a game to see how much money you can find lurking in the nooks and crannies of your house. I’m not talking about change in the couch here. I’m talking about all the stuff crammed into your closets you never use.

Find a couple of items — maybe old clothes or sports equipment — and list them on eBay or Craigslist. See what you can make. Then, find some more stuff the next week or month and see if you can make more.

Challenge your spouse or roommate to join in. Create a competition to see who can make the most money each month by selling off excess clutter. Up the ante by creating a reward — maybe the winner gets to relax while the loser does dishes for a week.

3. Challenge yourself to find a free fun activity every week

Entertainment can be a major budget leak. You go out for drinks and go a little wild with your tab. Or you take the kids to the budget movie and end up treating them to dinner before and ice cream after.

Fortunately, there are a ton of free activities, from festivals to library programs to nature centers. Rather than defaulting to your go-to, money-sucking entertainment option, challenge yourself to find something free to do every week or month.

The key is to avoid taking a free activity and turning it into a money-splurging event. You may tempted to think that because you’re saving money with the free entertainment, you can spend more elsewhere. Wrong. Try to make the outing truly free, or as close to it as humanly possible.

4. Find or create a budget accountability group

Everything is more fun when you do it with someone else. Budgeting is no different.

Slogging along on your own to manage money can be lonely. But if you have some people with similar goals cheering you along, you might find it easier to stay motivated.

Identify some like-minded friends and suggest you start a Facebook group or email chain in which you each check in every day, or maybe once a week. It’s an opportunity for everyone to share their goals and progress toward them.

If you don’t have a group of friends in the real world who’d be interested, look online. Check out personal finance blogs for virtual inspiration, or head to a message board to find those like-minded individuals you may be missing in the real world.

5. Ditch the pen and paper and use an app to keep on track

There are plenty of apps that can help you track and manage money. For some people, these can make the process of sticking to spending goals infinitely more fun than plugging numbers into a spreadsheet. We’ve reviewed some of these apps previously.

Urge is one helpful app. It lets you record every time you say no to a purchase and then “credits” that money toward a financial goal or dream purchase. Say no enough and, in theory, you should have money in the bank to buy whatever that thing is that you really want.

Do you dread budgeting or do you make it fun? Share your experiences in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

This story contains affiliate links, which means Money Talks News may get a commission if you decide to purchase anything from some of the companies in this story. However, we only recommend products we love. Using affiliate links helps us keep the lights on, and allows us to continue to offer you great money-saving tips every day. Thanks for helping!

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
26 Work-From-Home Jobs That Pay $100,000
26 Work-From-Home Jobs That Pay $100,000

These lucrative gigs let you work in your slippers.

This Is the Best Age to Buy Long-Term Care Insurance
This Is the Best Age to Buy Long-Term Care Insurance

If you wait too long to apply for coverage, you could be denied. So, when’s the sweet spot to apply?

13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon
13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon

Every household should have these products on hand. Buying them in bulk on Amazon saves you cash.

This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say
This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say

One major wireless provider stands out for the least reliable call, messaging and data services.

9 Items Under $25 That Will Keep Your House Clean
9 Items Under $25 That Will Keep Your House Clean

We’ve rounded up some of the best products for cleaning your bathroom, kitchen and every other room.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

Does Wearing 2 Masks Protect You Better From COVID-19?
Does Wearing 2 Masks Protect You Better From COVID-19?

A growing number of people are wearing two masks instead of just one. Should you join them?

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

This Is America’s New Favorite Grocery Store
This Is America’s New Favorite Grocery Store

Consumers say a familiar name has become their go-to source of grocery items.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years
10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years

The cars that owners hold onto the longest have one thing in common, a new study shows.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

The 10 Golden Rules of Becoming a Millionaire
The 10 Golden Rules of Becoming a Millionaire

I’m a millionaire several times over. I got here the same way you can — by following these simple steps.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.