We all know it’s important to have long-term savings and have a healthy mindset towards your financial future. However, it’s equally important to find joy and purpose in life. Finding a balance between saving and spending is crucial, especially as we face the cost of living crisis. Read our top tips on doing what you love, but on a budget.
It’s important to save for the things you love
We identify joy and purpose as one of the 10 building blocks that make up good financial wellbeing. This is because having time and money to spend on the things you love can do wonders for your happiness. However, if you’re struggling to afford to do the things you love, especially due to the current cost of living crisis – try out a few budgeting methods which might be able to help you find a way to cut costs to fund your hobbies.
You can also read more about joy and purpose in our Financial wellbeing index.
Hobbies on a budget
What’s your passion in life? Here we’ve looked at some of the most popular hobbies and made some suggestions for how you can still do the things you love on a budget.
Whether you’re a fan of yoga, pilates, strength training or HIIT, chances are you’ll be able to find online or remote classes to suit. This means they can often be entirely free or at the very least, usually far cheaper than a gym membership.
Or if you prefer the social aspect of fitness classes, see if your sports centre offers a discount when bulk-buying sessions. Make sure to see if your employer offers health-based benefits, such as discounted gym memberships or cycle-to-work schemes.
Or if you love walking, see if there’s any community walks or hikes that are happening near you. This is also a lovely activity to do with your friends or family.
There’s nothing better than letting someone else do the cooking for you – but you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy a meal. Instead, be on the lookout for discounts or schemes you can take advantage of, such as those offering two-for-one meals or similar.
Or if you’d prefer something a bit higher end, some fine dining restaurants offer value lunchtime tasting or pre-theatre menus. Limited menus are likely to be cheaper than going out in the evening – or dining from the a la carte menu. Alternatively, bring the restaurant experience to your home by signing up for a trial meal box subscription.
Want to jet off without the expense? It’s all about planning. Generally, if you book far in advance, you could save even more.
When you’re looking to travel abroad, always look out for the best deals. Consider travelling to a cheaper, less popular travel destination. Travelling with a carryon can also save you the cost of bringing luggage. Many airline companies like Ryanair also have seasonal flight sales – keep an eye and you might bag yourself a cheap set of flights for a European city break.
Make sure to do your research when it comes to your spending money. For example, check what fees your bank charges when you use your credit or debit card to make sure you won’t be hit with an unexpected extra cost. There are plenty of travel card providers too – which often provide better value for money. Whilst you’re abroad, plan ahead and find local apps to help you find cheaper transport and great deals on food and drink.
House swapping sites is also an option to find a cheap holiday (or you could even house-swap with a friend). You could also opt for a staycation instead of heading abroad.
It’s important to be mindful of your shopping choices to avoid overspending. You could start by setting a clothing budget and only spend it if you have money left at the end of the month. Or, you could put money in a clothing pot and save for a more significant purchase when you find something you love. If you love clothes shopping, and are looking to cut back, try thinking about the cost per wear to make sure it’s a considered and great-value purchase.
If you’re an online shopper, consider making use of apps like Honey or VoucherCodes. These browser extensions scan the internet for any promo codes that can save you some money on items you’ll already be buying.
Our article 9 money saving food tips to help you live sustainably also gives insights on how changing the way you buy food can help you save more money, and have a sustainable impact.
Gardening and DIY
Successful gardening and DIY projects can often come down to the equipment you have, and so doing it on a budget can rely on sale shopping or searching online marketplaces for bargains.
We’ve mentioned before that upcycling is a great way of bringing old furniture back to life. Whether your kitchen cupboards need a refresh, or your wardrobe looks tired – upcycling can make you feel like you’ve bought a whole piece of furniture, but for a fraction of the cost.
If you’re looking for a project, you could turn old wood pallets into a decking area or garden furniture, requiring only a bit of time and effort rather than a larger sum of cash. This can be achieved by stacking a couple of pallets on top of each other, drilling into place, sanding down and painting to create your own pallet coffee table.
You can often find free pallets on Facebook Marketplace, and we found a litre of garden furniture paint for £14, sandpaper for £2.41 and paintbrushes for £2.99. If you’ve already got a drill to hand, it could cost you less than £20 to create your very own piece of bespoke garden furniture.
If you’re passionate about gardening, consider regrowing plants from leftover vegetables and cuttings. This way, you could have the garden of your dreams without the upfront cost of buying plants or seeds – and benefit from not wasting your vegetable scraps.
We can all do with a bit of self-care from time to time – but sometimes treating yourself can come with a large price tag. Luckily, there are many ways you can treat yourself on a budget. You can often find discounts for spa days or beauty treatments online, such as on voucher sites like Groupon and many salons have loyalty schemes. If you’re a regular somewhere, see if you can benefit from this. Or consider doing it yourself at home. An upfront cost in buying a home manicure kit or a foot spa can still give you the time to relax without the expense every time.*
Bring the joy
We may be facing a cost of living crisis, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook the things you love in life. Research and forward planning could be all it takes to cut the cost of doing the things you love and bring more joy to your days.