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One of the biggest challenges that you can face whilst on your debt free journey, besides the debt itself of course, is sticking to your budget. In particular, when it comes to socialising. This can be particularly difficult if you are someone who tends to see your friends and family for dinners out and costly activities on a regular basis. Here are some tips on how to maintain a social life whilst on your debt free journey.
Where does the money go?
Anyone who uses a budget knows just how easy it is to “lose” money in amongst lots of little spends. Stepping over into the world of tracking every penny, it really highlights how much you essentially waste on things you don’t need. Small spends can add up so quickly, especially if you don’t keep an eye on them.
As an example; maybe you normally go to the cinema every Thursday and on Saturdays you head into town for a meal and some drinks. Say you spend £10 at the cinema and £40 at the weekend, that’s £50. OK, that’s not a huge amount of money on its own. However. In just one month, that adds up to £200. In one year, that comes to £2400! That could make a huge difference to your debt payments.
Of course it is far easier to do the maths than it is to make the actual changes. Especially if your friends and family are not sensitive to your want to be sensible with your finances. Using our example, imagine you were able to cut your spending to £50 a month, saving you £150. How much sooner would you be able to pay off your debt?
Money saving alternatives
Have friends over. Offer to host a dinner from home instead of going out for a meal. You could even take it one step further and have everyone bring a contribution in the form of one of the courses, a couple of snacks or some drinks. The night ends up costing you a bottle of wine (or whatever your tipple may be) and the price of a few food items. Far less than a dinner out. You will also save on the cost of travel. No scrambling for change to cover the taxi home!
Get outside. Getting together doesn’t automatically have to mean spending any amount of money. The outdoors are free after all and we’re blessed with endless walks, hikes and other outdoor activities across the UK. Explore your local area or hop in the car and take yourself 15 minutes outside of the city to see what is around. It’s amazing what you will come across. There is of course the added bonus of having a healthy day over sitting down and eating or drinking (or both) while you catch up.
Use offers or coupons. There are so many great deals available that you can utilise to lower the cost of socialising. Try 2-for-1 deals at the cinema to save money. This deal can be redeemed through a well known comparison website and is valid on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Straight away you are cutting your spends in half! Even better, take your own snacks. We tend to pop to the supermarket round the corner first and pick up some own brand crisps, sweets and flavoured water. These are always so much cheaper, instead of spending a fortune on the cinema’s snacks. Cinema nights end up costing around £10 for two people!
Pick up the phone. I feel like, for many of us, this is something we have forgotten how to do. We are so used to texting and social media that we forget that a quick call can mean as much as going out for dinner. This point is particularly relevant if, like me, you live a distance away from your friends and don’t get to see them very often. Catching up doesn’t always have to mean spending time together. It can be an hour long blether about nonsense over the phone while you watch your favourite TV show at the same time.
Even whilst on the most strict of budgets it is important to maintain a connection with your friends and family. Explain your financial goals to them so that they can jump on board and support you. Socialising doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s about the time you spend together after all, not the impact it has on your wallet!
For more ideas, Katie from Student Skint has written a brilliant post filled with free activity ideas!