Life is full of battles (especially when you have teenagers in the house) but to me, one of the biggest challenges is making the most of our free time without spending a bucket load of money while you do it!
Yes, I absolutely want to save money but luckily we’re in the position now where we can introduce a few extra treats into our life. We’ve been through the ‘do without while we pay off debt’ stage and now that we’re finally out of the other side of that we’re in the ‘treats are allowed but let’s not go overboard’ kind of stage. 😉
We’re also wanting to try and experience more things together or as a family but some of the things we thought of seemed quite costly at first – until we did some digging.
Here’s a few of the things we’ve thought of and how you can do them cheaper than you might think – to be clear though, they’re not cheap activities (I have plenty of those here) but they are cheaper ways to do something that usually costs more.
This is something we really want to try but honestly, we thought it would cost a fortune after investigating membership fees at the local golf club.
Golf is one of those popular hobbies where there’s a real sense of having a social circle. Being on the green isn’t just about playing the game; it’s about being in the same kind of circle as society’s movers and shakers. But the equipment isn’t cheap — you can feel incredibly inadequate if you step onto the green with just a starter kit while everyone else is swinging away with tailor-made to fit clubs.
You can make golfing much cheaper if you play on inexpensive courses – we have one which is a bit further away but is around half the price. Reduce the expense even further by using discount coupons and using any spare golf balls that you find on the green.
A night at the casino
We used to love a cheeky night at the casino and have had some pretty successful nights although I absolutely wouldn’t recommend it to you unless you know you can stick to a limit you set yourself.
Hear the word ‘casino’ and you instantly think of massive sums of cash. They’re glamorous places, admittedly, and you’ll see some well-off people laying down some spectacular sums. Don’t be put off from going, though. If you set a bankroll limit and avoid borrowing money, you can have a superb evening without spending more than you can afford.
It’s important to set yourself limits so that you don’t get carried away in the atmosphere and excitement of the place. Staying away from alcohol, eating before you go out and slowing down the speed at which you’re playing will all help you to spend less during the evening. You’ll find more expert tips in this guide about how to manage your casino bankroll.
Unless you own a private jet, does anything speak of the high life like cruise travel? Travelling on a cruise liner has long been one of the heights of a luxurious lifestyle. If you’re reading this and saying, ‘That can never be me’, you’re wrong. There are all sorts of ways you can make it happen.
Firstly, you’ve got to be flexible as to when you travel. If you can avoid peak times and seasons such as summer and holiday weeks, you can strip a good few hundred off the price. Secondly, book early. Cruise lines try to secure early bookings by offering extras, which can include cabin upgrades, free or reduced-fare flights or free excursions. Thirdly, shop around on the internet and compare deals, and, finally, consider going as part of a group. If you book a cruise for a large group, you could receive a significant discount or other perks on your cruise trip.
Skiing and snowboarding
Snow sports are an adrenaline-packed blast, but they’re expensive, too. If you plan to take up skiing, capitalise on the spring to save money. Often, resorts will sell seasonal passes at a lower price and shops will sell last year’s ski models for much less as well. The good news is, the skis will last for several years.
You can save even more money by visiting local ski resorts instead of going to popular destinations such as Chamonix. This will allow you to get plenty more skiing in. Go cross-country skiing and you’ll save extra money instead of visiting a downhill skiing resort regularly.
When you have a refined palate, wine tasting is one way to indulge this most privileged of the senses and learn which wines pair well with foods. The only thing is, the expense can soon mount up if you’re attending wine tasting sessions every week.
Thankfully, you don’t have to give up your love of the grape. Instead of attending weekly sessions, join a monthly wine club. You’ll be able to choose how many bottles the club sends, so that you can keep your expenses down and still discover new wines. You could even use the money you save to attend any optional tasting sessions the club offers.
To take the very best photos, you need the very best equipment — or at least that’s what a lot of people think; however, they’d be wrong. Photography is as much about skill and vision as it is about having good equipment, so don’t just go online and blow hundreds of pounds on a new lens or camera body and think that will transform you into a top-notch photographer.
Enrol in a few courses, study the basics and learn about different techniques. Get out and about with your camera and practise, practise and practise some more. The time you spend learning and improving will improve your photography much more than buying expensive equipment. Only when you’ve implemented these approaches should you consider upgrading.
A few extra tips
The fact that an activity is expensive doesn’t make it totally off limits to you. There are a variety of ways you can save in addition to the suggestions above. These include:
- Taking part in the activity less frequently
- Renting or borrowing equipment, or buying it second-hand
- Finding substitute activities, such as attending a conversation group to practise a language, instead of paying for extra tuition
- Seeking out ‘frequent user’-type passes or package deals
- Offering a skill of your own as payment — perhaps you have web design skills, are good at DIY or have other useful skills — in exchange for being able to practise your hobby for free.
Choosing an affordable leisure activity shouldn’t be a battle. It’s perfectly possible to enjoy some of the finer pursuits things in life and not spend every spare penny you’ve got on them. Apply the tips above and you can convert your leisure time into magical moments with a little money spent, rather than an arduous budget-balancing struggle. Enjoy yourself.
Don’t miss out on future posts like this – receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address here and hitting subscribe. You can also follow me on Twitter, BlogLovin or Networked Blogs and I’d love to see you over on my Facebook page and on Instagram. You can find out more about me here.