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50 Activities For When You’re Low On Budget

50 Activities For When You’re Low On Budget

When you are on a tight budget, it can be easy to dwell on the things you can’t afford to do. However, remember that happiness isn’t about how much money you have–it is about the time spent in love and with loved ones. These 50 activities won’t just save you money, they will also bring simplicity and happiness into your life.

1. Go to the public library

Take a vacation to a world away, all for free at your public library.

2. Wash your car at home

We love shiny toys. Have some fun washing yours at home for free.

3. Go for a walk

Enjoy nature and some quality time with yourself and loved ones.

4. Roman noodle cook-offs.

Compete against family and friends to see who can best reinvent this inexpensive staple.

5. Netflix marathon

Feel like a kid again having a movie marathon in your pajamas.

6. Clean out your closet

Have fun finding and rediscovering old and forgotten jewels.

7. Sleep in

Sometimes you can have the most fun doing absolutely nothing.

8. Play a board game

Whether it’s Monopoly or chess, board games bring the family together.

9. Get in the holiday spirit

There is always a new holiday around the corner. Find fun and inexpensive ways to celebrate them.

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10. Go to the park

Jump on the seesaw or go high on the swings. You will laugh and feel like a kid again.

11. Go to a flea market

You can find a lot of buried treasure at the flea market.

12. Find free tours

Find free tours at your local museum, winery or draft houses.

13. Indulge a little at happy hour

A weekend night out with friends can be expensive, so indulge a little with cheap happy hour drinks.

14. Go camping

You don’t need an expensive five star resort when you can pitch a tent under the real stars.

15. Go hunting or fishing

Save money on groceries and take advantage of what nature has to offer. You can start to eat healthy.

16. Have a garage sale.

Earn some cash for your clutter by having a garage sale. Finally start your rainy day fund.

17. Window shop at the mall

Try stuff on; enjoy the hustle and bustle of being around people. Woo and awe over all the latest gadgets without spending a dime.

18. Try new recipes

Just because you can’t afford to dine out, doesn’t mean you can dine in with style.

19. Catch some rays

Get your vitamin D fix with some early morning sun rays.

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20. Take turns reading a book out loud

Make reading a group activity by sharing it with your family.

21. Listen to music

Listen to your favorite tunes to sooth the soul.

22. Take a bubble bath

Enjoy some me time while soaking in some soapy bubbles.

23. Download free apps.

Technology offers new and exciting apps you can explore for free. Many of them can even help save you money.

24. Grocery shop on the weekends.

Often on the weekends large grocery chains will sample out some of your favorite products. Shop on the weekend to take advantage of some favorite treats.

25. Take turns swapping massages.

You may not be able to afford a spa day, but you can still enjoy the benefits of “if you scratch my back, I ll scratch yours.”

26. Catch a matinee

Watch the new releases at half price.

27. Have fun on the Wii

Compete with family on your Wii or Xbox. Loser does the dishes.

28. Play in the rain.

An epic mud battle can be better than the greatest water park. Loser walks home.

29. Karaoke and dance off.

Do you have what it takes to make it on American Idol?

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30. Do an art project

Who knows, you might be the next Picasso.

31. Start a blog

You can start free blogs at WordPress or TypePad. Tell the world about your daily life or your thoughts on events in the world.

32. Research your city

You may find cool places and spots you didn’t know about.

33. Play a sport.

All you need is a ball, an open space and some friends

34. Check out your local farmers market.

Explore the stalls of homemade crafts and sample fresh, organic fruits, veggies and cheeses.

35. Geocaching

All you need are GPS coordinates.

36. Try new workout activities.

Add some zest to your workout. Try new classes at your local gym.

37. Play with your pet.

They also need your attention.

38. Go on a bike ride

Enjoy the freedom of riding a bike on nature’s trails.

39. Make your own how-to YouTube videos

Get silly, have fun and explore a passion for the world to see.

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40. Call your loved ones

Everyone is just a phone call away.

41. Explore the thrift store

Update your wardrobe without spending a lot.

42. Go for a drive

Sometimes in life you just need to enjoy the ride.

43. Meet the neighbors

Your new best friend may be living right next to you.

44. Kiss your sweetheart

The best things in life are free–so is love.

45. Clean up your finances.

Build a budget and make plans for your future well-being.

46. Look at old pictures and photo albums

Take a trip down memory lane with some old photos with family and friends

47. Make a poor man’s mocha

Instead of spending loads of money on expensive coffee drinks, make your own. Try mixing a packet of instant cocoa with your morning coffee.

48. Enjoy the seasons

Go swimming in the summer, rake leaves in the fall, build a snowman in the winter and give flowers in the spring.

49. Volunteer

On a tight budget it may seem like you have very little. You can put things in perspective by helping others who are less fortunate.

50. Write a bucket list

You may not be able to afford all the grand ventures you want for your life, but that doesn’t mean you should stop dreaming.

Featured photo credit: Whitney Baugh via blog.pennlive.com

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

Are you on track for retirement?

If not, don’t worry, I’m not sure either. I save each month and hope for the best.

Fortunately, I’m at an age where most people don’t save so I’m ahead of the curve.

But, what if you aren’t in your 20s? What if you’re near retirement and are looking to gauge where you stand?

If so, keep reading. Here’s how to prepare for retirement and save wisely during the process.

What Does the Average American Have Saved for Retirement?

Saving for retirement is tricky.

Tell someone straight out of college to save $10k a year for retirement and it’ll be next to impossible.

Make the same request to someone decades older and they’d be more likely to be able to save this amount. But, a 20-year old college student can be “financially ahead” of someone saving more than them. Why?

Age matters in your financial journey. The younger you are, the more time you have to save and put compound interest to work. As you get older and have more saving power, you’d have less time to put compound interest to work.

Here are the average savings Americans hold by age bracket:

20’s – $16,000

During this stage, most people are paying loans and moving up the corporate ladder. Your best bet during this stage is to focus on eliminating debt and increasing your income. Don’t focus only on getting a high-paying job neither.

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Instead, focus on learning via Podcasts, reading books, and taking specialized courses. Doing this will make you more valuable and give you more career options.

30’s – $45,000

At this stage, you’ve hopefully escaped your entry-level salary and work at a career you enjoy. Your earning power has increased but you now have more obligations. For example, marriage, kids, and a mortgage.

Set a plan to pay off all your debt and focus on eliminating unnecessary expenses. Leverage financial tools like Personal Capital to ensure you’re on track for retirement.

40’s – $63,000

This is the stage where you’re at the prime of your career. Top financial institutions recommend you have at least 2 to 4 times your salary saved up. If you’re falling behind, start maxing out your 401K and Roth IRA accounts.

50’s – $115,000

During your fifties, you’re close to retirement but still, have time to save. You may be helping your kids pay college tuition and other expenses. Since you’re at the peak of your earning power, max out all your retirement accounts.

60’s – $172,000

By this point, you should have about eight times your salary saved up. If not, you’ll depend primarily on social security benefits averaging $1400 per month. Max out all your retirement options as much as possible before retiring.

Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

The sad reality is that most Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.

Even high-earning power isn’t enough to secure one’s financial future. You need to have the discipline to save for retirement while time is in your favor. Don’t wait for you to have a high salary to save, start with having a small budget.

First, get a clear picture of where you stand. Write down a list of “needs” and “wants.” For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime are “wants” and a “cell-phone” is a need.

Use tools like Personal Capital to analyze your spending patterns. Personal Capital allows you to add all your financial data in one place–making it a powerful option to gauge where you stand.

Once you know all your expenses, organize them from highest to lowest expense. When you can’t cut more expenses, call your service providers to negotiate a lower price. If you’re not good at negotiating, use services like Trimm to lower your monthly expenses.

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How to Save Money Each Month

By this point, you know the average amount of money you should have saved for retirement based on your age.

But, breaking this down into monthly goals can be challenging. Here are some rule of thumbs to follow:

Aim to contribute 10%–15% of your salary each paycheck. Review your progress each week.

Why so often? The reality is that life gets in our way and you will have many financial setbacks. Your goal isn’t to be perfect but to get back on track instead.

Reviewing your finances weekly lets you know where you stand with your retirement. This doesn’t have to be a long process either. All it takes is login in Personal Capital to view your net worth and check how much you have saved for retirement.

Turn saving into a game and aim to save more each month. It will get challenging but you’ll get creative and find more ways to save.

Top Money Saving Challenge Tips

To prepare for your financial future and not be another statistic you need to be different.

How?

By adopting new habits that’ll help you become a saving machine. Here are some ways you can save more:

Automatically Contribute Towards Retirement

If you’re working for a company, you can automatically contribute towards your 401k. If you’re not currently contributing more than 10%, make this your goal. Contribute 1% more today and automatically increase this amount a year from now.

Odds are that you’re not going to be negatively affected by contributing 1% more. Many times we spend our money on things we don’t need. Contributing more towards retirement is a great way to secure your financial future.

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Use the Right Tools to Know Where You Stand

Once you’re contributing more towards your retirement accounts, gauge your progress. Make use of finance tracking apps to help you view the big picture of your retirement.

When I’d first signed up for the app Personal Capital, I didn’t know I had a negative net worth. Despite saving thousands of dollars, my debt brought my net worth to the negative. Knowing this motivated me to save more and spend less.

Now, I have a positive net worth. But, it was because I was able to view the big picture using the app. Find out what your net worth is using a finance tracking app and you may surprise yourself.

Bring in Experts to View Your Blind Spots

If you have too little or too much money saved, you should consider hiring financial experts.

Why?

You may need someone to hold you accountable to help you reach your financial goals. Or, you may need help managing your money as effective as possible.

Regardless of the reason, getting help may help improve your financial situation.

Before you hire an expert, find out which areas you need help the most. For example, if you’re constantly overspending, find a debt counselor. If you’re struggling with choosing the best investment options, hire a financial advisor.

Speed up Your Retirement Contribution

After learning how to manage your money well, the next best thing is to earn a higher income.

You’re capped at how much you can save but not much you can earn. Even if your employer isn’t giving you a promotion, you can still take charge of your financial future. How?

By starting a side-business.

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This will be something you’d work on after you’ve finished your day job. Once you start earning income from your side-business, you’ll be financially better off.

The best part is the more work you put into your side-business,[1] the more potential it has to earn more money.

So start a side-business in an area you’re familiar with. For example, if you enjoy writing, do freelance writing for small e-commerce businesses.

Once you’re earning a higher income, you can contribute more towards your retirement. Don’t wait for the right opportunity to secure your financial future, create one.

Reach Financial Freedom with Confidence

What if you were able to retire tomorrow with no problem, all because you’d have enough money saved up and little to no debt left to pay off? How would you feel?

My guess is that you’d feel happy and relieved.

Most Americans are falling behind their retirement goals for many reasons. They’re not prepared, they carry bad money-habits and are thinking short-term.

For you to retire successfully, you need to work backward and adopt better habits. Contribute more towards your 401K and focus on growing your income.

If you do, you’ll save money and pay debt faster.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re behind your retirement goals. Take the first step today towards a brighter financial future. Isn’t retirement worth the hard work and sacrifice to be at peace?

Featured photo credit: Huy Phan via unsplash.com

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