Debt free step 6: Fun can be free

View of the tarn gorge, France, Gorges du Tarn

If you followed step 1, and you got a clear view of your finances, you will now be able to calculate an exact figure for your “fun” spending for the first month (tip – if you scroll down and unhide row 61, I have added a formula to calculate this for you, or just select the cells you want to include – excel will total it for you in the bottom right corner).

 

Fun spending – seems like a lot? It did for me. Hundreds of pounds a month, on what? Fancy meals, drinks at the weekend, haircuts, clothes, cinema tickets. All these things seemed like small expenses, but they add up so quickly, even over a month. And then over a year, it’s thousands of pounds.

That’s assuming you’re already trying to save some money – fun spending is limitless. But let’s save the jet ski rides, theme parks and go-karts for when the debts are paid off, and you have a nice cushion of savings to fall back on.

I want you to think about all the things you enjoy doing, all your hobbies. Write them down if you want. And then think about how much each of these activities costs. If ‘shopping’ is on your list of hobbies, please just cross it out now.

So say you take a regular dance / fitness / yoga class, and that costs £5 a month – that’s not too bad. You can probably live with that expense. However you should consider switching to doing these things for free – classes are useful when you’re a beginner, but when you know the moves, you can always practice at home.

You hobbies might include walking, playing computer games, seeing friends, watching films, reading, or maybe some more unusual stuff like Indian head massage or flower arranging.

I want you to think about the hobbies you have, and focus on the ones that are free or cost little money. You enjoy doing these things, and you can go on enjoying them while you’re saving money. The hobbies that cost more money, you may want to pause for a while, until you have your finances under control. Or as a compromise, consider how you can make hobbies cheaper:

  • Borrow books from your library instead of buying them.
  • Play video games you already own, rather than buying new ones.
  • Watch films at home – be more selective about which new releases you go to watch.
  • Go for walks in your local area, rather than driving a long way.

The next level, if you’re ready for it: take up hobbies that save you money.

I love cooking, and I like spending time looking up new recipes to try at home. And by cooking at home for family and friends, I am saving a ton of money. I batch cook at the weekends, so we have lunches and dinners in the week, and they can be frozen so that you can mix things up, rather than eating the same meal for a few days!

Something me and my boyfriend are keen to take up as a hobby is carpentry. You only need a few basic tools (saw, sandpaper, wood glue or a hammer and nails) and you can start learning to make, well whatever you want. If you can learn enough to make all the things you need, make gifts, or even sell the things you’ve made, then this is a top money-saving hobby to have.

Gardening may not be your thing, and that’s OK. I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite hobby, but in our small garden, we have grown this year: 20 punnets of raspberries, 10 punnets strawberries, 1/2 kilos tomatoes, 1/2 kilos of potatoes, as well as onions, rocket, chillis and herbs. This all saves money, and requires little input – just put the seeds / plants in the ground, water them in the summer, and harvest them. If you’re not sure, just give it a try.

The sky is the limit – you figure out what you enjoy.

 

Go to Debt free step 5

Go to Debt free step 7

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