So perhaps the hardest thing to do when we first lost our jobs in the same month was adjusting to sudden and significant income loss. Some people, when going frugal, ease into it. We didn’t have that choice. Adjusting to a lower income so quickly felt like a punch to the gut. Not only did I worry about meeting our household bills, I feel like all the fun had been sucked out of our lives.
But honestly, looking back, it was probably one of the best things that could have happened to us. Bills can be shrunk, and fun can certainly be had. Fun doesn’t need to cost money (why I thought it did I’ll never know). Since then, and every job loss since, we’ve adjusted our lifestyle just a bit and saved. Each time we learned new things and had new habits stick.
Perhaps the most surprising thing was that in some cases we were able to do the same exact thing, but for significantly less, or no, money. What I’ve realized is that many of us do what we do because that’s what we’ve always done, or because it’s easy – not because it’s the best way to do things. Regardless of your budget – I promise you still have some room for fun. Here’s a few ways.
1. Watching movies out.
The old way: During the evenings for $7-$9 a person.
The new way: During bargain matinee for $5.50 a person. (Bonus on Tuesdays our theater has $1 sodas and $1 popcorn!) Or go to the second run theater for $3 per person. We love ours because it’s an old restored theater, and it’s beautiful. We hardly feel like we are compromising our experience.
2. Watching movies in.
The old way: Movies on demand for $5 each.
3. Going out to dinner.
The old way: Going out without regard to time of day or cost.
The new way: Using Groupon to get dinner for half price at many of the places we like to go. This also works for signing up for Groupon in places you will be visiting. Living Social is another one. Also many restaurants will have an early bird or pre fixe meal special, especially during the week or on Sundays.
4. Visiting the museum.
The old way: Going when we felt like it.
The new way: Going when the museum is free. Yes, free. Most museums have a day or evening that it is free, either once a week or once a month. We saved $50 on one trip this way by taking advantage of the free day.
5. Seeing live theater.
The old way: Going on the weekends and purchasing ahead of time.
The new way: Going on Thursdays or Sunday afternoons when tickets are cheapest. Buying rush tickets on the fly. (We saw a same day Broadway show for $30 per person this way.) Signing up for free fan clubs. (Just saw Cirque du Soleil for 30% off because I signed up for their newsletter.) And volunteering for organizations who put on shows. Recently I volunteered as an usher for a local holiday show. My one hour of program folding and seat showing resulted in a free seat to the show (a $25 value).
These are just a few of the things we like to do and are now doing for significantly less. Frankly, I feel very silly having spent so much money before on the same thing. I usually don’t make a habit of throwing money out the window, but that’s what we were doing. Take a look at some of the things you like to do and see if there are different or better ways for doing the same thing for less.