Budgeting for Entertainment and Leisure

Budgeting is daunting, especially since it means cutting down on how much money you can spend on entertainment and leisure. No matter how tempted you are to cut fun spending altogether to reach your financial goals faster, make sure that you build that essential item into your budget. In the end, it will help you stick to your budget and make it as painless as possible.

You need fun money

If you fail to build in any funds for entertainment, the higher your chance is of blowing your budget, says Kristin Wong of Lifehacker. A budget with no money for things like going to a movie or subscribing to Netflix is extremely restrictive, and means that if you slip up at all the whole system falls apart. From there, the whole project will seem pointless to you and push you further from the financial future you want.

Be realistic

You should have an entertainment and leisure budget, but that does not mean that you can throw as much money into it as you want. According to Kristin Wong of Lifehacker, spending more money than you take in is called lifestyle inflation. Usually the key culprit is sneaky fun expenses, like a fancy dinner or an impulse theater ticket. All of these costs can lead to you living paycheck to paycheck — or worse, you might accumulate debt. If you’re not meeting your financial goals, it’s time to take another look at your budget and make sure that your entertainment spending isn’t out of control.

Consider expert advice

How much you set aside for fun depends on your unique needs and income, but one trick you can use is the 10 percent rule. According to Tom Corley of CNBC, you should start your entertainment budget at 10 percent of your net pay. That means it’s not 10 percent of your total income, but what you have left after your employer takes out taxes, insurance or retirement. While that might seem like a lot of money, once you factor in eating out, trips to the bar and travel, it might require more sacrifices than you think.

Look for alternatives

You finally set a budget, and now it’s time to live it. While your new conservative spending goals might seem hard to live with, consider looking for alternatives or programs to help you succeed. Instead of spending upwards of $50 on a concert admission, you can look at free concerts, plays and movies that might be in your area. If you really want to spend your money on a more premium experience, like sports tickets or a day at the spa, plan ahead so you can save money from your budget to pay for it in the future. This extra time will help you find deals or coupons you might not have known about if you spent the money impulsively.

Reaching for financial goals doesn’t mean you have to only spend money on necessities. With proper planning and a close look at where your money goes, you can have fun while still living frugally.

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