Having money in the bank is an amazing feeling. You can pay your bills on time and put the rest into savings. But in addition to preparing for an emergency, you should think about finding ways to save for a fun fund, too, because treating yourself is important. You might think saving for an emergency and a fun fund seems a little crazy. But it's completely doable if you make some changes to your spending habits.
According to USA Today, founder of ShoestringMag.com Melissa Massello said, "Most of us are hemorrhaging money in our weekly expenses and we don't even know it." Instead of spending five dollars for that matcha latte, it might be a good idea to put it into your fun fund. "Once you see, itemized and in pie-chart format, exactly how much you're spending on groceries or gym memberships or manicures or happy hours, it's easier to identify ways to trim the fat," Massello continued.
Look, I understand that it's not easy to make lifestyle changes sometimes, but if it means that you get to go somewhere exotic once a year, then it's worth it, right? How do you do it without stressing out completely? Here are nine ways you can save money for your fun fund while still being able to pay your bills on time.
1. Set A Target Number That Feels Possible
"Goal-setting research confirms that people are more successful when they set moderately challenging and reasonably attainable goals. For those who haven’t begun saving at all, however, the thought of stashing thousands of dollars can seem impossible. Approach fun savings like you would any long-term goal, and shoot for progress, versus the end game," says consumer money expert at Intuit and Mint spokeswoman Holly Perez in an interview with Bustle over email. Don't panic if you can only put aside five dollars a week. That's five dollars more than you would have had if you didn't. Plus, by the end of the month, you'll have $20. As long as you're making progress, then you're doing just fine.
2. Make Saving A Non-Negotiable Expense
Just because you have X-amount of dollars in your bank account doesn't mean you should spend it. Each month, try to treat your fun fund like a bill, in that you have to set aside a certain about of money to pay it off. "Most people wrongly believe that they don’t have any income to save, because they expect the money to appear out of nowhere. Savings is a process that you must be proactive in directing. Build the 'expense' of saving into your budget, just as you’d approach a utility or credit card bill. If you knew that going out to dinner with friends would make you unable to make your monthly car payment, for example, you’d have no choice but to postpone plans. Be just as disciplined about saving," says Perez.
3. Track Your Goal Every Week
"A person who consciously aimed to spend just $20 less a week would have more than $1,000 to show for their efforts in just one year. But without a firm commitment to free up the funds, you’ll never find them. Instead of viewing savings as a sacrifice that takes away from your life, focus on whittling your way to a weekly savings goal; track your savings just as you would track your spending," says Perez. It can get tedious to constantly track where and how you spend your money, but it's important to do whether you're saving for an emergency or for fun.
4. Be Frugal With Your Spending
Having self-control when it comes to your finances is important. It stops you from going crazy with your money, even when you know you can afford to spend it. "In the $20 example above, a person who opted to brown bag a lunch at work just one day a week, drank one less beer at happy hour, clustered errands to reduce fuel waste, and ironed their own work shirts versus dropping by the dry cleaners could easily hit a $20 a week savings goal," says Perez.
5. Use A Financial App
If you're constantly on the go, then downloading a financial app is perfect. You can track your expenses when you're out, so you don't have to stress out about doing it when you get home. "Track your progress using a tool you can reference anytime and anywhere with a budgeting application like Mint or personal budgeting software," says Perez.
6. Schedule Financial Meetings With Yourself
Treat your fun fund as a business. Schedule weekly meetings where you can go over how you're doing and where you need to improve. This is especially important to do if you already have a fun trip planned, and you need to make sure you save money before the date arrives. "Schedule frequent 'money dates' with yourself. Sit down and revisit your goals and make adjustments to your budget where necessary to help you achieve what you’re dreaming of," says Perez.
7. Make Your Money Hard To Get To
If you have a hard time saving no to going out or spending money in general, it might be a good idea to leave your debit card at home. "Look for an interest bearing savings account with no minimum balance or fees that offers at least 80 percent on your money — and ditch the ATM card. The harder it is to access your cash, the less tempted you’ll be to tap into your fun fund for non-emergencies," says Perez
8. Directly Deposit Part Of Your Paycheck Into Your Savings
Have your employer take a certain percentage of your paycheck and directly deposit it into your fun fund. This can prevent you from being tempted to spend your money on something else. "If your employer offers the option to split direct deposit of your paycheck, devote a specified amount directly to your savings account so you never even miss it," says Perez.
9. Pay Yourself First
"When payday rolls around, set aside a specified sum of money that you can afford to go without before you begin taking care of other obligations. The easiest way to do this is to deduct an item from your list of variable expenses, such as dining out and gym memberships. Instead, prepare food at home and soak up everything the great outdoors has to offer," says Perez. By allowing yourself to put money aside first, you'll know exactly what to work with when it comes to paying bills and expenses, so you're not tempted to spend your money elsewhere.
Saving money can be fun, especially when you have an end goal in mind. Don't stress out if you can only save a little bit at a time. It's better to save something than nothing at all.