Balancing frugality and fun

As a member of the financial blogging community, I respect the financial advice freely offered by many bloggers and financial experts.  Where I struggle with some financial articles, maybe some I have written in the past(?), is reading about saving money through lattes and other things you that you thoroughly enjoy today that make life, well, enjoyable.

Here are some quick personal examples where we could save more money if we wanted to:

  • Not buying K-cups for our Keurig.  A few bucks per month (over regular coffee purchases).
  • Not watching any live sports using my existing Rogers services.  $40 per month savings.
  • Not travelling a few times per year.  At least $4,000 per year. 

I/we choose to do these things because I/we have accepted the costs associated with them and I/we are not willing to overturn those decisions.  I enjoy my sports and we enjoy our HBO TV shows.  We enjoy having our hot coffee ready in 40 seconds.  We enjoy seeing new places and sharing new experiences, even if I catch an annoying cold during my vacation (sorry dear friends in Puerto Rico, I couldn’t help it).

Saving is critical to our financial future and we won’t reach this goal without saving diligently.  Saving is likely crucial to your financial future as well.  I guess the point of this post is:  do the things you love to do and find ways to save money in the process.  Life will probably be more enjoyable this way.

How do you strike the balance between frugality and fun?  Maybe for good ideas, you simply read Kerry Taylor’s blog?

25 Responses to "Balancing frugality and fun"

  1. My wife and I enjoy travelling…we are on the road for about 4 months a year. We have saved and invested through the years, but I believe there are other factors that contributed to us being able to enjoy our lifestyle without giving up all the good stuff:
    – we don’t smoked (quit many years ago)
    – we only eat out on special occasions (we enjoy creating interesting meals at home)
    – we make our own wine from kits (why is wine so expensive in Canada?)
    – we don’t go to Starbucks or Timmies (bought a coffee roaster 10 years ago, we even travel with it when it is convenient)

    1. Wow, 4 months per year sounds great!

      Your list sounds very balanced. Cooking nice meals at home is great, saves money and fun!

      My wife and I enjoy that also.

      Thanks for the comment Roger!

  2. Balance – definitely! As we have recently retired, we’ve found spending on experiences is far nicer than on more “things”. Of course, I have to admit, we’ve bought a lot of things in our time…

    One great “thing” compromise – and good for the planet too – are some Keurig filters which can be placed in the reusable Keurig K-cup. Makes clean-up a breeze. Found them at Bed Bath and Beyond.

  3. I also spend way to much on travel right now. Closer to $8K a year, we decided to do this before we had kids or a mortgage so we would have no regrets later.

    As soon as kids or a home purchase happens we expect to cut the travel budget dramatically.

  4. Hey mark, great post and no truer word spoken. It’s draining just trying to save for the long haul and besides, some of the best ideas can come out on a beach when you are chilling out :). I remember when i first started learning to be frugal and i was in debt, it was far easier when you saw the debt clocking down over time as motivation but then i’ve found the motivation much harder once i’ve come out of debt even though nothing has technically changed. I find myself breaking rules now and again but like you say, sometimes you do have to reward yourself a little bit now and again otherwise you’ll go mad lol. Anyway, keep up the great work.

    1. Chilling out on the beach is great. I did that a bit over New Years. Well, maybe I passed out, I can’t remember. I was sick for part of my vacation though which really sucked and probably annoyed my friends but what can you do….nobody plans to be sick. We had a good trip but I need to travel more. I love new experiences and travel definitely provides that.

      It’s OK to break rules now and then, but I know for us, we can’t make breaking financial rules a habit. We’ve come a long ways in 5 years or so and if we keep the pedal down over the next 10, we’ll be very close to working on our terms – a day I can’t wait for 🙂

  5. I think David Chilton explained it pretty well in the original Wealthy Barber book. Once you take care of things like paying yourself first, paying your bills, TFSA, RESP etc etc. what you have left should be money you spend as you see fit. If an additional investment will bring you the most joy, invest away. If it’s fancy coffee, ice cream, cars, travel, or traveling by car to a place filled with fancy coffee flavoured ice-cream, then go for it, as you’ve already taken care of the other priorities. Take care.

    1. You raise a great point Chris. Once you pay your 10%, to yourself, then pay your bills, etc. and have some fun. The 10% or maybe a bit more of investing has already been taken care of. I don’t want to live like a miser. Where’s the fun in that?

      Thanks for reading and stopping by.

      1. I think it all comes down to having a good plan. Save enough to satisfy the plan and spend every other dollar on living and enjoying today-whether that means you are into kid stuff, houses, cars, travelling, philanthropy, whatever. You never know how many healthy years you have left.The key to this is having a good solid plan to know what you need to save for your future plans.

        1. Planning is essential Keith, in so many of life’s facets, this is another example.

          I know for us, we save and then spend the leftovers. This way we’ve taken care of the planning part. Hopefully another 15 years until we’re retired. We’ll see…lots can get in the way.

          Health is essential and hopefully we’ve have that for many years to come. Thanks for the comment.

  6. I balance frugality and fun simply by prioritizing. Starbucks is not on my priority list, and it doesn’t really make my life any more enjoyable. Travel does. I make small sacrifices through frugality to be able to afford the things that I want to do. Having a nice(r) home is also on my priority list, since I love to spend time at home. We spend a bit more on our housing because of that.

    1. Travel is definitely a fun thing for us to do. My wife and I try to take a nice trip at least once every couple of years. We also do small weekend getaways.

      We also love our home, love spending time outdoors around it tending to the veggie garden and making the gardens look nice. It’s fun, it’s exercise, we’re outdoors and we can have a few “pops” and enjoy it. A good life.

  7. I’ll jump on the bandwagon here and say the wife and I both have a little bit of YOLO in us too. We don’t drive BMW’s or live in a huge house but we do enjoy taking several trips to new places every year. I think Ben was spot on. We try and spend money on what makes us happy and try to cut back everywhere else.

    Cheers Mark

    1. I wonder what acronym will come up next? P4TL4T? Plan (4) for tomorrow, live (4) for today? Would that be a good, fiscally responsible mantra?

      I’m going to tweet that. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment Joe, great to hear perspectives from readers.

  8. True, I go to the Metal and Hard Rock shows the most , and it keeps me young and active I find.

    …I am in the Vancouver area, and will be driving to Seattle this weekend to see a ‘Hairband’ \m/

  9. I love going to concerts and live music events , on average I go to a few each month.
    They can be $10 shows at a small venue and underground artists to big arena concerts.

    And range from Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Rock, Blues, World , etc

    I also love to travel ,and try to go to one new desination I have not been to each year.

    1. Concerts are great, any live shows are good for that matter. We’re going to see a live show this weekend. Should be fun.

      BTW – nothing wrong with heavy metal, hard rock or any hair bands! 🙂

      Thanks for the comment.

  10. My wife and I have some basic tenets about investing. The last, and we think most important one, is “Plan for Tomorrow but Live for Today”….maybe that’s just another way of saying YOLO?!

    So are we diligent savers? Yes. Do we take a couple of great trips a year? You betcha.

  11. I just came back from a 9 day vacation in Mexico so I am all about striking a balance. Travel is something I love to do and try to be as frugal as possible but won’t entirely give it up. Everyone has their personal favourites that they love and won’t give up – travel is mine. Life is too short to be frugal on absolutely everything 🙂


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