Greetings, Frugal Farmer friends! Today I’m sharing a guest post from my blogging pal Richard, who blogs over at Frugality Magazine. Richard worked hard via frugality to pay off a boatload of debt so that he could get his life back. Today he’s sharing how to live a full life even on a strict budget.
Budgeting: its a necessary evil if you want to take control of your money.
But it’s also not without its problems, not least that budgeting your money carefully can mean denial. We give up spending wantonly on whatever we want, we economize, we give up on those frivolous expenses.
The risk, of course, is that budgeting reduces the fun of life. Instead of going out with your friends you stay home. Rather than eating out at restaurants you cook for yourself. You give up on those new jeans you wanted and try to make your current ones last another few months.
Over time, if we’re not careful, this element of denial can become a stone in your shoe; a constant source of annoyance and frustration. It can also lead to us living smaller, less exciting and less rounded lives.
Here’s the thing though; living on a budget doesn’t necessarily mean you have to live less than before. Certainly, you’ll likely have to give up on some of the trappings of our consumer society, but in truth its very rarely “things” which bring us long-term pleasure.
I would suggest that the things which really matter in life – which make your life richer and more enjoyable – are factors such as:
- Building strong personal relationships with others
- Doing something with your time which has a positive impact on others
- Learning new skills and growing as a person
- Building a life which is rich in memorable experiences
Take Up A (Low Cost) Hobby
Try a few out and you might just discover (or rediscover) a passion that allows you live a richer life without busting your budget.
Volunteer With An Organization You’re Passionate About
Two of my passions are pets and wildlife. As a result over the years I’ve volunteered with a number of organizations, from rescue shelters to conservation charities.
Spending my time on such pursuits not only lets me contribute to something I strongly support, but its also been a great way to meet like-minded people and to be offered opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have arisen.
I know more than a few people, for example, who have ended up working for the charity they started volunteering for, opening up a whole (exciting) new chapter in their lives.
Start A Garden
There’s something oddly satisfying about growing your own food. Not only can it be highly rewarding, but of course it can also help to save you money on groceries. From a very gentle start I now grow virtually every vegetable we ever eat, and I spend just a few hours each week on maintaining my plot.
There are other benefits too. Getting outdoors can be highly beneficial, as can getting in touch with nature. Lastly, I’ve made a surprising number of friends too, who are all too happy to share advice and tips with me over a nice cup of tea.
Thanks to seed swaps, thrift stores and generous friends you can often get started for next to nothing. Even better, by saving your seeds you’ll find that growing your own vegetables actually becomes cheaper every year!
Get Out in the Countryside
Nature can have almost miraculous effects on our stress levels and general well-being. Somehow removing yourself from all the mayhem of modern life encourages you to slow down, enjoy the sunshine and watch the wildlife around you.
Additionally, of course, getting out into the countryside also encourages you to exercise. From walking to cycling, getting out in the wilderness is a fantastic way to enrich your life without breaking your budget.
Join Local Clubs and Activity Groups
From mountain biking clubs to local gardening groups, there are loads of ways to not only engage your passions but also meet loads of experienced, like-minded individuals.
These relationships serve to enrich your life, while engaging in your hobbies also serves to great a more rounded and joyful existence.
As you can see, living on a budget doesn’t have to mean becoming a hermit.
Just because you’re trying to avoid spending money doesn’t mean that you have to give up on life.
In fact, I would argue that things are quite the opposite. When you stop craving for new gadgets and indulging in “retail therapy” you have more time to enjoy the things in life which really matter.
The overriding message is this: don’t be afraid to start budgeting. You’ll not only be making positive financial steps, but your life as a whole can become richer and more full of positive, memorable experiences as a result.
Richard is a keen naturalist, animal lover and personal finance blogger based in the UK. Find out more about his journey from debt to freedom at Frugality Magazine.
Have you ever been afraid to live on a budget because of perceived restrictions on fun? How do you live a fulfilling life on a budget?
I don’t think afraid how it’s being perceived, but worried that I won’t be able to have fun. And also that I would lose some friends. I did, but those people aren’t the one who matter. The ones who do stick by you!
Thanks for your comment Tonya!
I had a similar experience with friends. I found that I started to see some less and less as everything revolved around spending money.
Like you, though, I found I saw others just as much – if not more. Just hanging out for a chat is a great way to save money, build relationships and live a fuller life on a budget.
A big part of it for me is playing board games like Risk and Monopoly. If you play these kind of games with friends and family, you don’t watch TV and sit hostage to all the ads they throw at you to try and separate you from your money.
Going on walks and exploring neighborhoods is also key. We have beautiful parks here in Philly often with free activities. We take full advantage to avoid busting the budget
Board games are a great idea! I’m a huge Monopoly fan myself (so long as I’m winning 😉
You’re absolutely right, great post. Frugality and budgeting go hand in hand, but it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice lifestyle. It just means being smarter with your money and more conscious of where it goes. Great list of low cost activities.
Great ideas. It’s so important to live a rounded life while on a budget otherwise it would be hard to stick with it. Most people think that budgeting means making sacrifices and living a life of deprivation. Sure you’ll have to cut things out and make some sacrifices but some of the best things in life aren’t that expensive and often free
I agree, there are so many activities that are out there that we can pick up for free that give just as much, if not more, utility than an activity that isn’t free. Budgeting requires someone to think things through and pick things to spend money on that has the highest returns. Increase the value of your life, meet more people, and experience new things for the cost of 0$, sign me up!
I have a garden, and I am glad that this hobby of mine is really low cost and I don’t have to spend much money.
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