Times are tough everywhere. The economy is not doing very well and people all over are trying to find ways to save money and spend less. However, the prospect of doing such a thing can be daunting to some. We work hard for the money we have and should be able to enjoy it to some degree as opposed to simply skating by barely paying the bills. With jobs lost, downsizing occurring and more and more people barely making it today, though, sacrificing seems to be the order of the day. However, there are ways you can save money while not sacrificing too much. You too can still enjoy life's little pleasures with a few slight modifications to your lifestyle. Here's how in 10 easy steps:
Socialize with friends and share expenses. Instead of going out to the movies rent one instead. It is a lot cheaper and these days movies go to DVD very quickly. You can coordinate with a group of friends and take turns hosting movie nights. For a small amount of money everyone can enjoy a great movie, some soda and popcorn. If you have three other friends to share this with you can see a new movie every week and only pay for it once.
Cooking at home will save a lot of money on a weekly basis. If you do not know how to cook, this is the best time to learn. There are numerous websites that will give you easy to follow, beginner recipes. You can plan a menu and shop for the best deals or you can look at the weekly grocery circulars and plan a menu around sales. Keep in mind buying items that are inexpensive and using them across several different dishes. You can save both time and money this way and have meals prepared when you need them.
As well as cooking, drinking is expensive too. You do not have to cut out your morning latte or after work cocktail. Instead, just prepare it at home. You can save a lot of money each week by taking a carafe of coffee in to work instead of stopping by your local barista. You don't have to tip the bartender when you pick up a bottle of wine, make a round of margaritas or sip a martini at home.
Use free services provided by your community. Typically the average city has a lot of resources for entertainment available at no charge or a small charge. Start with the library where you can get books checked out for the entire family without paying anything. They also have movies available too and most libraries have special functions from time to time to entertain and educate. Look to cultural centers in your area and tourist attractions for a nice day out that will not cost a lot. Get to know your city all over again and have a relaxing and enjoyable day.
Some museums have days where they offer free or reduced admission. Look for all your area has to offer in the form of inexpensive cultural activities. Some of the smaller museums or art centers linked to schools may even be free. You can look at paintings, sculptures, photographs while spending very little, if any money. Some museums are donation based only so if you can afford a small donation you can enjoy all it has to offer.
Make a day of going to the park. For families this is a great time to pack a picnic and have some quality time together. A few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a pitcher of lemonade, some Frisbees, footballs and games of tag make for a great day together at very little expense. For couples, this is a wonderfully romantic yet inexpensive date. Grab a book, pack some finger foods or stroll through the park hand in hand while talking. Singles can also get in on the fun. A group of people getting together in the park for a game of football or Frisbee golf is ideal.
You have probably been told time and again to stow away some money for a rainy day. Well, if it is raining in your area, you can use that money now. While it is important to continue saving in an interest bearing account if you need it to pay for household items, use it. This is what you saved for and you have been making your money work for you. Do not go crazy and replenish it as soon as you possibly can but if you have to pay a bill, you can dip into your savings a bit guilt free.
Become more energy efficient. Turn the thermostat to where it is not kicking on as much. Turn lights off when not needed and unplug appliances and electronics that are not in use regularly. If you can afford it, do some simple changes to your bulbs to low energy light bulbs that will save you money over time. Even doing so gradually will be a help. Only use water when you need to and turn off the tap when it is not actively being used. When you are aware of conserving energy you will get into the habit of ensuring you are not being wasteful and see money savings in your utility bills each month.
Become organized and create a budget. Know where you are spending your money and see if you can cut out the things you don't really need or want. Just knowing where your money is going will help you cut out unnecessary items.
It is important to have some "you time" even when times are tough. Actually, it is especially important now. If you feel better and more relaxed you are liable to be more productive and have the capacity to make sound decisions. So, take time for yourself and indulge in some personal time but do so on a budget. Look for free or inexpensive ways to enjoy yourself. Take a walk, enjoy a hot shower or bubble bath, give yourself a home manicure and pedicure, couples take turns giving massages, read a book, meditate and exercise.