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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 September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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