It’s pretty rough waters in the open sea right now folks. The economy is sagging, people are lagging and it’s tough to see that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. With so many living with less, it’s easy to overdo it and become a hermit, I mean, Netflix and grilled cheese in your coziest PJs with your spouse and fuzzball gets to be a habit. Break that cycle and remind yourself to live loud. It’s not easy, but you can have a social life on a budget – so don’t loosen that belt just yet, but let me try to sell you on my strategies.
OK, so you all know I am an optimist and probably a little too liberal for some. That’s alright folks, because even now, downsized, working for peanuts (literally?) and dealing with life changes, I have a plan. It’s not foolproof (there’s your disclaimer) but it does help me lean to the bright side and get out of the house. Happy hour and lunch with the girls is not a necessity, but ii IS amazing medicine for your soul.
Let’s start with that big dirty word – yes, BUDGET. I know, you love those Jimmy Choo’s and lunch with the girls is a necessity, but if you’re not careful, friendships can be an expensive commodity. I am a believer in budgeting. From my first earned dollars babysitting, I used envelopes in my sock drawer to sort. One for saving, one for family gifts, one to save up for things I wanted to buy, and one for going out with friends. First it was simply movies, but as we hit that legal age, socializing got a little pricier. Unlike those fab 4 in Sex & The City, I don’t have a glamourous job, millionaire hubby or a trust fund to bankroll my social life. So how do I compensate? Budget.
Let’s start with today’s average family. Student loans (your kids’ tuition doesn’t just vaporize), mortgage or rent, credit cards, groceries…it all adds up. With the average income dwindling (think global economy?) the average family hangs onto a lot of financial stress. Me included. This is where that budget comes in handy, for everyone rich or poor. It isn’t always fun, but it does give YOU control over your financial health and therefore your emotional health and wellbeing. Budgets are great because they allow you to be mindful of your money. You will know exactly what you need, what you can spend, and where you need a little work. (Is that new designer purse really worth it?) Budgets are great because they help you pay down debt, save up for vacations or other splurges, and even to put away some cash for your retirement. (I know, it’s eons away, but time is creeping along faster than the new Corvette). I’ve been doing some homework, because I admit, I’m frugal, but not always perfect with my budget. Here’s what I’ve gleaned from the multitude of articles I’ve researched.
The Nitty Gritty: Morning Beans Budget Tips:
First and foremost- you MUST track your income and spending so you can create a realistic budget. Track every red cent for a month – it’s an eye opener. That daily coffee run may be pushing your limits. I promise you that your initial shock will pass, and you’ll make wiser choices going forward.
- Let’s talk first to your inner social butterfly. Friends and get togethers are super important to health and well-being. Nobody likes to be left out or lonely, so make your home “the” place to be. Make your living space open and comfy, and keep some games on hand. Game night is a great, inexpensive way to hang out, and you can always encourage a pot luck. Rotating homes and activities keeps it fresh. You haven’t seen anything until you and a group of friends are punch drunk and playing Headbandz with post it notes and sharpies.
- Keep your loved ones in the loop – inner circle folks. Monthly meeting to keep everyone on track will help keep that budget a success. Track your kid’s spending too, especially if you’re forking over $20 for movies every week. A budget only works if everyone is on board.
- Be flexible. Remember that you CAN make changes. Do what feels right for you, your family and your particular situation. Your income, goals or expectations may change. Roll with it. Just remember to stay realistic.
- Technology. Lean on it- you’re already attached to your phone, so use some apps to help you stay on track financially. Some of the better ones include:
- LevelMoney: It calls itself a financial GPS. Your basic monthly expenses get logged, and it calculates how much $$ you have left to spend daily and for the month.
- Digit: You need to connect your bank account for this one. Don’t worry -they use 128-bit bank-level security, and don’t store your bank login This app checks your spending habits and moves money between your accounts IF you can afford it. No worries- you can access your $$ at any time.
- Mint: Creates budgets, tracks bills, and keeps you informed of your credit score.
- LearnVest: This one provides a fully customized financial plan to help you balance needs and wants. You even get 24/7 access to a financial advisor, and of course, you can always upgrade to premium (if it’s in your budget.)
- Coupon Apps: Check your fave shopping places, Target has Cartwheel, and there are grocery store apps with digital coupons, etc. Also look t apps like Ibotta or Honey, which actually reward you with cash. Even an extra $2.50 a month add up.
Managing your finances can be truly frustrating, especially in our extreme age of social, social social. There are tons of free, low cost things to do that still get you a feel-good buzz and the comfort of your friends. A wise budget plan means less stress, and a healthier you!
Stay caffeinated and motivated!😉☕
Disclaimer: A change from your regularly scheduled posts as I try some new oars in the rapids of life. As always, mindfulness and well-being are top of the list, but I’m trying out some new angles. Hoping to keep you on your toes!
**One more note of caution – any device containing private or financial info should have security protection such as Avast, Norton, etc. because recently a University study on apps found 400 apps with 5 million or more users allowed easy access for hackers to mobile devices.
_ xxx H.