It has been nearly two years since my wife and I were struggling to make ends meet. Luckily we had a large emergency fund, but that is about all we had going for ourselves. We both were working jobs that paid us little money and we were living in one of the most expensive regions in the country. Luckily, we both had a four year degree and some work experience. Many other young people face far worse in many respects, but that doesn’t mean what we went through wasn’t difficult.
It very much was. As a way to get through the financially difficult times, we had to cut back. This often meant passing up on opportunities to go out with friends, simply because we couldn’t afford it. It also meant sacrificing in many other areas. But, what we came to learn through this challenging time, was that it didn’t mean giving up on life altogether. It is easy to understand why many people think this – because this is often what it becomes, but there are creative ways to enjoy life to the fullest without breaking the bank.
The first thing we had to do was prioritize our expenses. This meant taking a close look at our entertainment budget. Going to a movie and spending $30 did not mean as much to us as buying tickets to see michael mcintyre in concert. While everyone may not share the same passion for concerts, it’s all about setting your priorities. This also means that you have to cut some things out. It’s not a matter of saying which are most important, but also how far can your limited number of dollars reach.
After you have prioritized your spending, you can start to think of ways to make the most of your money. This means looking that those priorities and trying to make your dollars reach the farthest. This may mean cutting back on some more areas, but it may also mean that you spend more money in certain areas. For example, my wife and I learned that we enjoyed going to the movies (the few times that we went) when we got a giant diet coke. Yes, it was expensive, but it made the experience for us. It doesn’t mean you can’t be creative and bring snacks with you, but find out what is most important to you and optimize your experiences.
Create Memories with Others
The last and perhaps most important tip that I have learned is that creating memories with close friends is most important. While it may be cheaper to spend time at home alone, it is much more enjoyable if you do it with friends. The best part is that you can find creative ways to hang out with friends without spending money. This could mean board games, sports games, etc. There are many cheap and/or free things to do with a group of people.
While you may not have a lot of money, enjoying yourself is still possible. Be creative and see what you can come up with to save yourself some money while also enjoying life. The last thing you want to do is to live with regret.