Balancing Frugality and Fun

When you’re trying to live frugally, it’s hard to get any pleasure out of spending money, since the action goes completely against the grain of your lifestyle. Trust me, I know this from firsthand experience. It pained me to buy maternity clothes (although I was lucky I didn’t have to spend TOO much, as generous friends have lent me a lot of pieces), and I almost never spend any money on myself as far as haircuts, pedicures and makeup.

Mr. Saver and I don’t buy ourselves the latest smartphones, nor do we own fancy cars — mine has been paid off for 4 years or so, while we have 0% interest payments on a small, base-model SUV. Other than the usual maintenance on our cars and home, and a Netflix subscription, we don’t really spend money on anything — especially nothing “fun.”

I’ve always been a homebody, but once upon a time, Mr. Saver and I used to go out at least once or twice a week for dinner and/or drinks with friends. But since we bought our home in June 2009, most of that went the way of the dido. A reduction in available funds will do that to you, once you have a mortgage and have to pay property taxes — especially here in New Jersey!

It’s gotten to the point where we need to talk ourselves into spending money on things that bring us pleasure, such as dinners out. For instance, we love sushi, and there’s a great place not 5 minutes away. But knowing that we’ll spend about $60 on a meal there, it doesn’t happen too often. In fact, we know that we can go to our local grocery store and get sushi from the sushi counter for less than half the price. But it has nowhere near the selection and taste of our favorite sushi place. We don’t get sushi that often, but when we do, we enjoy it at the “good” restaurant, even though it’ll set us back a few bucks.

Today is Mr. Saver’s birthday (Happy Birthday, babe!), and we don’t have plans to go out. Well, *I* don’t, because I’m working the late shift tonight and won’t be home until 2 or 3 am. But he’s decided to take the opportunity to go to a local bar with his friends. Sure, buying drinks and rounds can get expensive, but since we don’t go through money like water, it’s a well-deserved night out for him. And we rarely go out for drinks anymore. Well, I sure don’t, being pregnant and all! My pregnancy and our impending baby has turned Mr. Saver into a homebody, too.

So what will we do to have fun once Baby Saver arrives? (ASIDE: Baby Saver sounds like a bad infomercial product, doesn’t it?) I’m not sure. Our financial instinct will probably be to become even more frugal in our ways. But we’re still going to try to have some fun, even though our idea of “fun” usually involves a nice meal rather than a night at the movies or out on the town. I suppose the homebody instinct is just too strong with us!

9 comments to Balancing Frugality and Fun

  • I think that in both lean times and not, the only way to keep on track is to have a plan. I find that when I have a plan that makes sense, I know how much I can spend and then I don’t have to worry. A simple plan is the 50/30/20 budget. It can take a while (months or even years) to get on track with a plan that works. But once it’s in place, it’s much easier to stay on track.

  • I think you’ll have to work on getting used to spending money again, just like you had to work on not spending money way back when. I know, it sounds weird, that spending money would be the difficult thing, but it’s just like anything else; if it’s out of your norm, it’s hard to change. At least spending money is a little more fun than saving it.

  • @Daisy I couldn’t agree with you more.

  • We’ve got 2 kids and while it does make life a lot busier, if you can fit in some “fun” time it will lead to much more satisfaction, in my humble opinion. We schedule date nights for my wife and I and we get a sitter. It’s been insurance for our marriage and we are better parents when we come home.

  • The more I stay at home, the more I find myself wanting to stay at home. I went out last Saturday and all I could think was, oh my gosh, I can’t wait to go home and lay on my stomach and watch tv. Yes, I know. I’m pretty exciting 🙂

  • You can enjoy cheap hobbies or activities. I love feeding the ducks at a nearby pond, going to the zoo, watching DVDs with friends, throwing potlucks, board gaming, hiking with a partner, and reading. Good luck finding your fun balance. 🙂

  • Many of my friends have babies,which fits my lifestyle perfectly, since babies = expensive & i don’t have any money.
    Going to the park, watching movies at home, etc are really fun ways to spend time with eachother & baby, & thier free!

  • It’s funny because when I was a single guy in my early to mid 20’s, I couldn’t imagine not going out on Saturday night, dropping a bunch of money at some club and on drinks, and I almost felt bad for people my age that stayed in. Fast forward ten years later and I love the idea of a stay at home Saturday, and with the wife, kid, and mortgage, that’s pretty much the routine. And I love it!