By Eric on February 23, 2012 5

How to Save Money Without Giving Up Your Lifestyle

One of our readers requested a post on how to save money without changing your lifestyle. While saving money for something means you must not spend it elsewhere, it doesn’t mean your life has to be boring.

I am not a saver.

I never have been.

When I got my first job washing dishes at a local restaurant at age 14, I started saving for my first car. It didn’t take long to save $1,500 for a 1985 Monte Carlo that I bought from my cousin.

Loved. That. Car.

After that, I had no goals of saving money–maybe just short-term goals for things I wanted to buy, and then the money was gone.

Saving is hard for some people. It means we must delay our desire for wanting something now by envisioning something greater in the future.

Saving cash without sacrificing lifestyle

While Kels and I have been dedicated to following Dave Ramsey’s baby steps to financial peace for the past three years, we tried hard not to change our lifestyle too drastically through the processes.

Yes, we probably could have reached our goals sooner had we lived on rice and beans, never ate out and zeroed all budget categories that were not absolute survival needs. But, we wanted to live life at the same time, and I do think it’s possible because we did it.

How to Save Money Without Giving Up Your Lifestyle

  • Budget: If something is important enough to you, set an amount needed for it and make it a goal. By budgeting a small amount every month, we were able to purchase things (a new computer, clothing, music, movies, camera equipment) and go on vacations while we were paying off our debts and even while we were saving for our emergency fund. Balancing savings and spending is necessary so you don’t get burnt out and are rewarded for your dedication.
  • Second job: While I had to sacrifice playing sand volleyball on Thursday nights during the summer, my second job still allowed me to have weekends off. Weekends were more important to me than sand volleyball.
  • Cutbacks: We still ate out while we worked through paying off our debts and saving for our emergency fund. It’s something we really enjoy, so we made room for it in our budget. We simply had to cut back. This meant learning how to use our kitchen, sharing meals at restaurants and going out to eat on special occasions.
  • Be creative and honest: The more we work in our budget, the more opportunities we see. Ideas seem to emerge of ways we can save or categories where we can cut the budget. Your priorities will align themselves once you see on paper which things are keeping you from your financial goals. For us, cable just wasn’t worth it, so we canceled it. And renting a $1 movie at home is just as good (if not better) than seeing it in the theater.

We’re so glad that we had a lot of great life experiences while creating our debt-free story. Spending money on things you want doesn’t have to drastically affect your other financial goals, and maybe these thoughts will help you save money without giving up your lifestyle.

As always, this is not professional financial advice and every situation is different. These are just ways we made it work for us and our lifestyle.

How do you balance your lifestyle and saving?

 

Facebook Discussion

Facebook Discussion

Eric

Husband to Kelsey. Father to Rooney. Follower of Jesus. Born and raised in Iowa. I like blogging. Bulleted lists excite me. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. This is something that my husband and I struggled with sometimes. We want to save, but we don’t want to just sit around twiddling our thumbs, either!

    Thanks for this post!

  2. I totally agree that you don’t have to give up your lifestyle to meet financial goals. I’m currently in the process of paying off my credit card and paying down my student loan debt but my husband and I still want to have a life. We’re putting a good chunk of money toward my lowest student loan (per the debt snowball) each month but we also went to a wedding this weekend and have other social plans this year. We set a little bit of money aside each month to do these social things–we call it our “participate in life” line in our budget.

    While our financial goals are really important to us, so are our friends and family and being able to enjoy life experiences.

    • That is perfectly stated! The first year we were debt snowballing we were in 6 weddings and attended 11 I think. That line item was HUGE on our budget that year and we still made significant progress.

  3. this was one of the aspects where i disagreed with dave. you can’t/shouldn’t/don’t have to sit on the sidelines of life while reaching your financial goals or where do you end up – rich with no friends, no experiences, nothing to show for years of hard work, but a nicely padded bank account. which is fabulous, don’t get me wrong, but money isn’t the be all, end all of life. it’s just a matter of scaling back and prioritizing.

  4. This is a great post! I found that simply writing down every time I purchased something was enough to put a big check on my spending (my favorite app right now is EEBA). I wasn’t ever outside my means, but if I had the money, I’d buy it, and now I’m a bit more principled about it just because I know that it’ll get written down, so I want it to count for something good! Remarkably, in just a few months, the amount of money I spend on clothes each month is practically zero.. I just don’t feel that urge to spend in that category anymore!

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