I will be the first person to admit that delaying gratification, not saying yes to every party, and not attending every trip or wedding is at first a challenge. Bachelor & Bachelorette parties are sometimes the hardest. Delaying gratification can be simple when you have a vision, backed up by habitual action.
One thing Lauren and I both had to come to grips with and then immediately adjust was the amount of wasted spending. When I say wasted spending I am referring to money that doesn’t end up with some sort of positive return. Be it paying off debt or stashing up.
Recently, I read how two teachers on a median salary were able to retire because they had no debt… in just 9 years. They saved 60% of their income!
Bars, restaurants, clubs, trips, impulse buying and maybe a few others (cable, gym membership, bad cell phone plans) were costing us $1,000’s a month, and $15,000+ a year. Imagine someone handing you a $15,000 check this time next year, sweet right? See my budget post and you can do that & way more. But getting rid of the wasted spending is not always easy. Saying no can be hard. But putting our backs against the wall, diving all in, and replacing spending with new activities has actually turned out to be really awesome and surprisingly fun.
Here are some quick ideas to help you enjoy life and save at the same time!
1. Get Outdoors
Get outside. There is so much to do within an hour no matter where you live. A simple google search, “things to do outside ”, netted over a million results for me personally. In the DC Area there is Roosevelt Island, Shenandoah (Skyline Drive), Old Rag Mountain, and my personal favorite the Manassas Battlefields. We take our dog there on hikes, do workouts, and I have even just gone on a walk by myself. Something crazy I want to do (but requires some funds) is Via Ferrata at Nelson Rocks, WV. Free concerts and movie nights are all over the country during the summer months. There is something every weekend by us! Bring a lawn chair and enjoy yourself.
2. Play Sports
Play sports. Most places people live have a basketball court and tennis court nearby. Lauren and I play tennis once a week and have really gotten into it. We got two rackets and 6 tennis balls for under $30.00. I love playing basketball, 1 on 1, 3 v 3, 5 v 5, it doesn’t matter. Games that require more people like kickball or pick up whatever require some more planning but can be done in three days or less with a few group texts. I have played sports well into the night on a Friday. Not good at sports ? It is fun to be involved and things like kickball do not require many skills. We also participate in an annual summer games event that is basically a field day for adults our friends setup.
3. Movie Nights
Redbox DVD $1.50. Popcorn Seasoning $1.98. For under $4.00 you have a movie night. I personally enjoy sitting on my own couch where I can control the environment vs. going to a movie but that is just me. If you really want to get crazy $5.00 or less DVD bins exist in just about any retail store.
4. Late Night City Visits
Being within 30 miles of the Nation’s Capital makes trips to D.C. pretty simple. In the day these same trips are not so plausible or fun when you factor in traffic and parking. One awesome date night that was recommended to us was visiting the city later in the evening, say 9:30 on a Friday night, and looking at all the monuments. Any city has a different feel late at night and can be very peaceful. I recommend trying it sometime.
5. Working Out
The most common complaint I probably hear today outside of money and politics is “I do not have time to workout.” There are 168 hours in a week, I can find 4-5 a week to workout and so can you. Exercise helps with stress and releases endorphin’s that will actually give you energy and make you feel better.
Some of the best times to workout – Friday or Saturday evenings. We have a free community center as part of our HOA so we take full advantage. We also save $720.00 a year by losing the $60 gym membership. That was $3,600 we spent for our 5 years of membership. But working out is fun, it can be done together, solo, or in groups. Regardless it involves no spending.
6. Do Something Spontaneous
Recently two friends we know went for a run at 11pm in the pouring rain. I thought that was such a cool idea. How spontaneous. And that will be a memory that sticks with them forever. I read a book recently that encourages people to “create memories” and memories don’t involve money, typically they involve spontaneity.
All in all, even better than all the money we were able to save using activities to replace spending, was what we learned. We quickly realized that stuff, things, and social activities that involved lots of money were not making us any happier or creating a memory. In fact I can look back and say living way way way below our means has actually been really fun.
You will actually begin to treat a crumb like a fest (another play on idioms). Some of the most fun we have had over the last 1.5 years while delaying is spending time with family and friends and talking about life. You learn to grow real relationships and can get to know each other better.
Replacing your spending with activity also makes the occasional trip to a movie, restaurant, TopGolf experience, or mini-getaway way more exhilarating in my fact-opinion.
Q: What are some things you do for fun that don’t involve money? Comment below!