Can Millennials Have Fun While Still Acting Our Wage?
“Want to go out tonight?” Or, “How about dinner?”
I hear these requests every so often from good friends of mine. It stings a bit when I know I can’t indulge in their type of fun all the time because I’m focusing on my financial goals.
I hate the idea of muttering something like, “I can’t, I don’t have any money,” as a response, because that’s not true. I do have extra money, but I want to live below my means.
The extra money I have goes either towards savings or towards paying down my debt. With the $40,000 in debt that my husband and I share, I feel kind of guilty spending a lot of money on splurging.
Instead of falling victim to extreme YOLO and FOMO (“fear of missing out”), I decided to act my wage when it comes to seeking out entertainment, and I think most millennials should follow suit.
Acting Your Wage
If you like to be active or social, it is hard to not give in to pressure from family and friends. Sometimes, you should meet them halfway. For example, if your friends are going out to dinner and then to a concert in the city afterward, you can ditch the dinner portion of the outing and meet up later for the concert so that you don’t spend extra money.
ON OCCASIONS WHEN I AM ASKED TO GO OUT, I COME UP WITH COUNTEROFFERS.
I might suggest that they come over my house for drinks and games or a movie, or I’ll search on Groupon for a better deal.
I am definitely the creative one in my group of friends. If you want to commit to frugal living, you might as well hold that same role, as well. Instead, I come up with fun, budget-sensitive activities like BYOB wine nights at home with a few friends. We go to free movies in the park in summer, and take frugal trips that will lead to lifelong memories.
My friends are always willing to join in on my ideas because they are fun and cheap, whether it’s attending a cheap festival in the city with a Groupon, visiting a local museum on free admission day, having a game night potluck at my house, or going on a weekend camping getaway. By coming up with the ideas and setting up the activity, I can control my own spending better than being asked to do something that’s outside my budget.
Setting a Realistic Entertainment Budget
Establishing an entertainment budget has also helped me to act my wage. Fun and entertainment are low on my priority list. But it does not mean they are unimportant to me.
I KNOW THAT IN ORDER TO STAY SANE, I NEED TO TAKE THE TIME (AND SOMETIMES THE MONEY) TO HAVE SOME FUN.
This is why I set a realistic entertainment budget of $50 per month and a dining out budget of $60 per month. It’s not a lot, but sometimes I even combine them, since dining out with others can also be considered a fun outing.
Embarking on No-Spend Days
While searching for deals and discounts on entertainment is one of my favorite things to do, I’m extremely open to free opportunities, as well. Having a few no-spend days – or even a no-spend weekend – can help to stretch your fun budget quite a bit throughout the month.
MY STRATEGY IS TO SPEND LESS DURING THE WEEK SO THAT I CAN SPEND MORE DURING THE WEEKEND.
I usually bring my lunch to work, along with a ton of snacks, so that I am not tempted to order any take-out during the workweek.
I also watch quite a bit of Netflix during the weekdays after work. When I feel I need to get out, I visit family who lives in the neighborhood – which, as you know, comes absolutely free.
I am always on the lookout for free events and experiences. If there’s a free festival; a fun, free class; or a low-cost, one-time event, I’m always more than willing to try it out because there’s not much to lose.
Being realistic about my entertainment budget, ignoring FOMO, and acting my wage have allowed me to pay off thousands of dollars of my debt this past year. And I still had my carefully measured share of fun! It has been truly the best of both worlds.