The biggest transition for me after moving into an apartment is dealing with MONEY. Or lack thereof. While I was prepared for paying bills and living on a budget, it
was is hard to adjust to having the majority of my paycheck dissolve into rent and utility payments. My boyfriend and I are used to going out often, be it to dinner or the movies or mini-vacations, which made the transition hard. We didn’t want to give up our busy lifestyle (especially in the city!) but knew we couldn’t blow all of our cash.
As you know, or will very soon know, every little bit helps. The biggest expense in our budget is definitely “entertainment,” which we have started to cut down. Do we stay bored? No! We are constantly finding ways to keep entertained on a budget. The beauty of this? We are trying new things and going place we haven’t been before.
Here are some ideas to help you and your roommates save a little money while still having fun.
Groupon & LivingSocial.
Both of these are websites that offer outings, meals and different products for up to 90% off normal price! You can sort the deals by area and find fun things to do near you. We’ve tried a painting class, an improv show, and a few different dinners out for deeply discounted prices. You purchase your Groupon voucher online and then present it to the venue instead of cash. Next for us? A wine tasting and massages! But before you go nuts over daily deals, check out these seven tips on how to get the most out of them.
One of my faaaavorite things is going to the movies. Unfortunately, it is not a favorite of my bank account. You can easily end up spending $15-$20 for one person for two hours of entertainment…plus movies often lead to dinner and drinks out (aka more money!). A fabulous way to save is by taking advantage of your local Redbox, where you can rent just-released flicks for $1.20. This makes for a fun night in with roommates and friends–cook a little dinner, stir up drinks and see the latest movies in the comfort of your apartment.
Most news stations and their websites list local events that are free or cheap! Go out on a limb and try something new. Through this, we discovered cheap brewery tours, a charity bike ride, a food truck festival and free movie screenings in a huge park. That’s just thus far this summer.
I recently joined Checkout 51 and encourage everyone to do so! This app pays you cash to grocery shop. They provide a list of offers every week (ex: $.25 back when you buy bananas) and credit you when you upload a grocery receipt showing you bought the items. Once you hit $20 in credit, they mail you a check! This was a no-brainer because it’s an easy way to get a little extra cash!
Price Check Amazon is another good one. We were in Walmart looking for a TV last week and discovered the app–you can scan the item you’re interested in and find the lowest price online. If that’s cheaper than in the store, you just saved money without wasting time! Many big box stores also price-match to the lowest online offer, so you don’t even need to go to another store to get the deal.
Easy Shift is one I’ve just discovered that pays you to complete little tasks around your city. These could be checking out a new restaurant or taking a picture of a grocery store’s display. I plan to use it while running errands. They send a check right to you after your few-minute “shift” is complete!
You can really get in a bind if you spend more money than you bring in, which is a lesson you learn quickly when you’re on your own. Use these tips to keep entertained without breaking your tight budget.