How to Live Big on a Small Budget How to Live Big On a Small Budget Say the word “budget” and words that come to most peoples’ minds are “restrictive”, “cheap”, “frustrating”, and “rigid”. However, I’m a strong believer that a properly structured budget should allow you to get more out of life, not less. Here are some simple tips for how to make your budget work for you and your lifestyle and why it’s essential to factor fun into your budget. Leave Room for Fun Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, you must remember to include some room for fun into your budget. If you allocate every single dollar to things like saving, bills, and debt, you are setting yourself up for failure. Even if money is really tight, there are ways to include incorporate some semblance of a social life or “treats” into your budget. Remember, budgeting isn’t intended to restrict you from all things you enjoy! Successful budgeting is about evaluating your spending habits so you can afford to spend more on the things you enjoy, and less on wasteful things. Spend Where It Counts Here’s a little piece of advice: No matter how much money you make, it will always feel like it’s not enough and there will always be things you want that you can’t afford. This is why it is important to determine what really matters to you and what will bring you the most fulfillment. If dining out with friends is your thing, that’s ok. But set a monthly spending limit for yourself and know that there may be other things you have to sacrifice in order to allow this to fit in your budget. Evaluating your spending habits to distinguish between what brings you enjoyment and what you can do without can help you make the most of the money you have. Take Advantage of Your City Cities big and small all have a lot to offer in terms of free or very low cost activities. Keep your eyes peeled for farmers’ markets, outdoor movies, free music events, free admission to museums and galleries, and the like. Also remember to take advantage of your nearby parks, hiking trails, and beaches. You’d be surprised at how busy (and cultured!) you can keep yourself without spending a lot of money. Don’t Give in to Fads Avoid spending your money on the latest technology or fashion trends. Retailers know most people can’t resist and charge a premium for the “latest” products. Before giving in, consider whether this is really something you should be spending your money on and whether you need it right away. Instead, consider waiting for mid-season sales or for the initial hype over a new phone to fade away and buy once prices have dropped. Live with Less Many people – especially millennials and Generation Yers – are embracing a simpler, more minimalistic lifestyle. They feel that by spending less on materialistic things, they can get more enjoyment out of experiencing life. You don’t need to go as far as embracing the “tiny house trend”, but consider whether you can live with less. Not only can this be good for your state-of-mind, but it will free up money to spend on things like travel and your social life. Budgeting and responsibly managing your finances is not about giving up everything you enjoy. The key to successful budgeting is balance. Distinguish between needs and wants so you can find a balance between saving, living expenses, paying off debt, and having a little left over to treat yourself. Smart budgeting can allow you the freedom to “live big” on any income. Leslie Tayne Leslie H. Tayne has more than 15 years' experience in the practice area of consumer and business financial debt-related services. Speaker, Author of Life & Debt, Attorney and Founder of the Tayne Law Group, P.C., Leslie is working towards reshaping the debt industry by offering real, proven solutions to help her clients get back on the road to financial freedom.