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How to Budget for Fun

How to Budget for Fun

When money is tight, one of the first things to get slashed in a budget is recreation. While some will have no choice but to cut pricey trips to a show at the theatre or resist adding a new pair of shoes to their sneaker collection, not everyone has to eliminate leisure spending. 

For most, it’s a gut reaction to limit their spending at the cost of joy. However, scientific studies have shown that setting aside time (and a few extra pounds) for recreation and relaxation is actually a fundamental aspect of our internal and external health. 

According to one psychiatrist at the Connor Integrative Health Network in the US, up to 80% of general care visits are due to or exacerbated by high levels of stress. Given the correlation between stress and finances, both are closely linked—so how can someone learn to budget for fun, in whatever form, when funds are tight?

While some blogs might advertise a free walk in the park or spending time with loved ones (both are great options), many people have distinct hobbies that require some spending. Rather than cutting out these pursuits, keeping them in our schedules can actually alleviate stress in difficult times with a bit of mindful budgeting.

Want to respect your budget without cutting out your bliss? Follow the handy tips below to find a creative way to feed your soul during tough times.

Go Online

One of the quickest and easiest steps to finding a cheaper option is to go online. This applies to a range of hobbies. For example, a card game enthusiast who enjoys poker might be accustomed to heading to a casino to play live at a table.

However, poker (and other table and card games) is now available online. There are even guides that cover the basics for joining virtual games, such as how to read an opponent’s mind. Other hobbies might not seem as easily translatable to online activities, such as those who knit or those who collect coins. In such instances, rather than knitting online or perusing another person’s coin collection, a hobbyist can join chats, groups, and clubs that focus on their hobby. It’s not quite the same as knitting a bottom-up sweater or finding an Indian cent coin from 1877, but it’s one way to stay engaged, informed, and active with a given hobby.

Switch Teams

In some cases, a hobbyist might work specifically with one company. In such cases, switching over to a new company might be a smart move in order to take advantage of welcome offers. For example, a traveler who always flies with one airline might switch strategically in order to fund their next trip. 

In another example, a person who enjoys refurbishing old furniture might source their materials from a new company that’s either closer to home or cheaper. Keep in mind that boutique speciality stores are often pricier than online retailers—but keep a lookout for delivery charges. The more specialized a trade, the more shipping costs tend to rise.

Funnel Money from a Side Hustle

When jumping online or opting for a new company isn’t an option, one foolproof way to increase recreational spending is to launch a side hustle. This path is only available for those with spare time and energy but can be used to get even the most expensive hobbies back on track. 

Today, there’s a range of options for pocketing a bit of extra cash. Some with cars, motorcycles, and bikes might opt for a delivery route, while others might start babysitting on the weekends. Others might stick to online review sites that pay users for quality reviews of goods and services or to take online polls, or put up their unique skills for hire on a site like Fiverr.

Regardless of the job, keep in mind that starting a side hustle should be a temporary fix. After all, keeping a hobby afloat during hard times is one way to combat stress with joy. Adding more things to stress about is a counterintuitive way to address a budgetary concern.

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