Being Happy On a Budget
Do you want to be rich or poor after you finish school? You might think the answer is obvious. Very few people actually choose to be poor. Being poor means constantly being careful about money and often giving up a lot of things you might want. It means living on a limited budget, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of fun.
Most people have to live on a budget at some point in their lives. These days even highly educated people, who have traditionally earned high incomes, often have to survive on very low salaries in positions such as fast-food servers or cleaners. In difficult economic times, it can be hard to make enough money to pay the bills. In that case, how can you ever earn enough to have fun?
Even on a tight budget, however, life doesn’t have to be bleak. With creativity and careful planning, you can still have fun even while watching your pennies. The most important thing when you design your budget is to remember what’s important to you and to plan around that. After you pay for the basics like housing, food, and clothes, you have to decide how to spend or save the money you have left.
How you spend money depends on your situation and what you consider important. Living with your parents or with several roommates can help save a lot of rent money, or you can look after other people’s houses. If you live on your own, learning to like inexpensive foods like beans and lentils can help cut down on your grocery bills. Using coupons, looking for sales, and buying food in bulk can also help. If you find interesting recipes and know how to use spices, you can make good food without spending a lot of money. You can also allow yourself to have an occasional steak or restaurant meal to make it easier to stick to your budget.
Entertainment can still be part of life on a budget. Instead of going to the movies on Friday evenings, you can spend time at a park or the zoo or attend a free cultural event like a concert. You can make gifts for people instead of buying them and you can turn a trip to the dollar store into a fun outing with friends. You can share your belongings with others and borrow from them, and maybe make new friends at the same time.
Learning to live on a budget might even help you get a good job. Employers who are looking for people to manage budgets, for example, might be impressed if you know how to get the most out of a small amount of money. The leadership and cooperation skills you learn while living on a small amount of money might also be valuable. Even if that doesn’t work, you can still use the skills you’ve learned throughout the rest of your life.
Living on a budget doesn’t have to mean the end of fun; it can be a beginning of something new and exciting. With creativity and determination, you can make a low income work for you.