Splurging While on a Budget

We know what it’s like to live on a tight budget. Once you’ve paid all of the bills, brought home the groceries, put gas in the car, and thrown some cash at whatever fundraiser your child’s school is putting on this week, you’ve got nothing left for fun. And let’s face it: Everyone needs a little fun now and again, regardless of your bottom line.

The good news is, just because budgeting like crazy was number one on your list of New Year’s Resolutions doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good time by indulging in a few activities you enjoy or purchasing some items you want. You just have to be smart and organized. Not sure how to do it? Here are four ways to treat yourself while still staying within your budget:

Get Organized

Like most of us, your list of wants is probably a mile long. A new television, some snazzy kitchen gadgets, a vacation to somewhere balmy on the beach, or new clothes are all purchases that can bring you pleasure. But if your belt is tightened, you need to narrow your list down to one or two things that truly tickle you fancy.

Once you’ve narrowed down your wish list, start planning. Let’s say, for example, that you’ve decided you want to take a vacation. Your first step is searching out the best deal on airfare, hotel, and rental car (if you choose). Sometimes, airlines or travel companies will offer rock-bottom deals if you travel during a certain time frame. But if it means you have to travel next week, this might not be the best deal for you. Arrange your travel plans far enough in advance to give you plenty of time to plan ahead.

Now that you’ve decided where you want to go and when you want to travel, look at your expenditures versus your income. Determine if there’s anything else you can cut back on. Consider these alternatives to hold onto some cash:

  1. Still going out to lunch every day? Start making your lunch at home.
  2. Popping into Starbucks for a latte a few times a week? Get a travel mug and fill it with your own home-brewed coffee.
  3. Burning gas like crazy getting to and from work? Carpool with a co-worker, or talk to your boss about telecommuting.
  4. Still paying for cable? Cut the cord and subscribe to one of the many video streaming services out there. They are usually much cheaper than shelling out for cable channels every month.

Remember

These changes are temporary. Keeping your goal in sight– lying in the beach in the sun, swimming in the warm, tropical ocean, getting some much needed spa treatments at the resort – will make those cost-savings measures much less painful. Besides, cutting out cable for a couple of months seems like a small price to pay for luxuriating in the sand and sea breezes, don’t you think?

Open an Account

Once you’ve made a plan and started cutting your expenses, open a savings account specifically for your splurge. If you’ve got direct deposit at your job, ask your Human Resources office if there’s a way for a portion of your pay check to be directly deposited into your new savings account. It doesn’t have to be much: If your vacation package, new television, or wardrobe costs $2000, saving $100 a month will put you on the beach, in front of your new plasma TV, or wearing your new clothes within a year.

Don’t have a specific splurge in mind? Open an account, anyway, and put in what you can when you can. Maybe it’s only $5 this month. Perhaps it’s more next month. The point is to have money there when you decide you want to splurge.

Keep Your Splurging Small

Maybe saving for a vacation or an expensive appliance is a little too overwhelming right now. In fact, small splurges can be just as rewarding as big ones, and they are much easier to plan for.

For example, you’re dying for a massage, and let’s face it, after all that budgeting, you totally deserve one. Start looking for deals. Some spas will offer deals on certain days, or send out coupons if you sign up for their mailing list. Is there a massage therapy school in your town? Massage therapy schools will frequently offer deep discounts, because the therapist giving your massage is a student in training. Don’t worry; they’re just as good at the rub-downs as therapists in fancy, expensive spas.

If the occasional night out at your favorite restaurant is your idea of the perfect splurge, look for coupons or prix fixe specials on certain nights. Restaurants with bars will often have Happy Hours, which offer discounts on appetizers, entrees, or drinks.

Increase Your Cash Flow

You’re dying to splurge, but you’ve got nothing left to cut. You never eat out, you always bring your lunch from home, you haven’t seen the inside of a Starbucks in years, and it’s been so long since you’ve had cable that you can’t even remember the name of your previous provider, and your money situation is still tight. That means that instead of looking for areas to cut, more cash needs to be coming in. Not sure how to increase you cash flow? Consider these:

  • Have a yard sale. You might be sitting on a gold mine. Purge those items you’ve been clinging on to and put price tags on them.
  • Get a temporary second job. Offer to cater a friend’s party (if you’re a great cook), sell some of your craft projects, or take on a short-term job in retail.
  • Take out a pay-day loan. Go to PaydayLoansCashAdvance.com and apply for a cash advance online. PaydayLoansCashAdvance offers free loan matching and reasonable repayment schedules. A pay day loan can put you in the cash you need immediately. That means that even if your budget is tight, you can still splurge without hurting your bottom line.
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