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When trying to figure out how to be frugal, it is easy to fall into the rut of not wanting to spend any money at all. Sometimes you might even feel guilty if you do spend money on the occasional splurge. But, part of life is about having fun and the occasional treat! Here are some ways my family manages to enjoy a special splurge while keeping our spending down:
1. Put a small portion of your budget toward the occasional splurge.
If you can set aside even just 1% of your income to save for these fun expenses, you will have a small amount to spend. If you made $2,000 each month, you would have $240 by the end of the year by just setting 1% aside each month or $20 per month. If you use a budgeting software, you can set up this “splurge” account in your software so you can direct a certain amount to it each time you receive a paycheck.
2. Collect all your spare change and find a Coinstar machine. If you can’t afford to set aside a budgeted amount each month, start collecting your pocket change in a container. Coinstar allows you to purchase gift cards for restaurants, movies, Amazon, etc with your spare change. To find a Coinstar location near you, go to Coinstar.
A couple of times a year, I will purchase these gift cards with some of the change we have accumulated. We add all our spare change to an old coffee container. It’s amazing how fast the change will add up in a short amount of time! I don’t like rolling grimy coins to take to the bank and Coinstar currently doesn’t charge a fee if you use it for gift cards. If you are using Coinstar’s service for cash, they takes a 10.9% processing fee.
3. Go get an ice cream cone at McDonald’s or Burger King for about $1 or less. We have a lot of local ice cream places in our area, but the ice cream is around $3 for a single scoop. For a family of four, it ends up costing us at least $12. And, the self-serve yogurt places end up costing even more by the time the kids add toppings to their cups since they charge by weight. And, my kids are attracted to the toppings which weigh the most! We tend to avoid those kind of places unless we are on vacation.
Even though the local places are expensive, we still like to treat ourselves to ice cream once in a while. That’s when we may break into our “splurge” fund or our change bucket. If we are really watching our pennies, we will go to the grocery store when the ice cream is on sale for B1G1 and let each girl pick out a flavor. Buying it at the store saves us the most because we can get several servings out of each 1/2 gallon carton and we can often buy a carton for between $2.50 and $3.00.
4. Use a free Redbox code or use the library to get a free movie. I sign up to receive both Redbox emails and text messages. I will often get codes which allow me to get free movies. You can even reserve the movies ahead of time at Redbox while using the code. At their homepage, you can sign up for both text messages and emails.
If you don’t want to use Redbox, you can always go to your local library and get movies. At our library, you can be put on a waiting list for the new releases. This allows us to watch movies fairly soon after they are released instead of hoping that a popular movie is going to be on the shelf at the library. Most libraries do not charge a fee to loan movies.
5. Sign up for the Kids Bowl Free program in the summer time. Kids can play 2 free games of bowling all summer long at participating bowling alleys throughout the United States. Your children do need to either own a pair of bowling shoes or they can rent them at the bowling alley for a fee. This could end up being some pretty cheap entertainment for your kids all summer.
Sign up at Kids Bowl Free. Hopefully, you can find a participating bowling alley in your area. On the homepage, you click your state to see if there are any participating bowling alleys. At my participating bowling alley, they offered free bowling for the kids through August 29th.
Check back next week when I will offer more ways to “splurge” while saving a few bucks. Do you have any ideas on how you treat yourself or your family without breaking the bank? Please leave them in the comments below.