Save money or have fun? You can do both!
Everybody knows that summer is a hard-won prize after a long winter for Canadians. Now that the warmer weather is finally here, the time is right to start enjoying some summertime fun. Or is it?
When you are saving for a down payment or paying off debt and rebuilding your credit history, it’s not uncommon to feel guilt over any spending that doesn’t align with your “big picture” financial goals. That way of thinking can lead to feelings of deprivation, which can eventually lead to counterproductive behaviour.
The psychology of financial deprivation
We often hear that sticking to a budget is an essential component of any successful financial strategy. When making a comeback from a serious life event like divorce, critical illness or unemployment, sometimes there is a tendency to take budgeting a little too far. It’s only natural to want to get back on track quickly, but just as health experts warn that crash diets don’t work, money experts warn that crash budgets don’t work either.
If your budget is so tight that you don’t leave any room to cut loose, you run the risk of feeling deprived. Like the person who gives up on a crash diet and washes down a cheeseburger and fries with a chocolate shake, someone on a crash budget who loses control can suffer a financial lapse that sets them back for months. It’s common human behaviour that is rooted in the psychological phenomenon known as the scarcity mindset.
The scarcity mindset can condition us to overvalue the things we don’t have, rather than allowing us to focus our attention on the things that we do. The result is often feeling like it’s no use to try to get ahead and giving up. When working to change financial habits, a happy medium can be to find fun things to do that don’t cost a lot of money.
How to have summer fun on a budget
When was the last time you got together with a group of friends to catch up? This thought tends to bring expensive trips to a patio to mind, but spending time with friends doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money. Get creative! Think potluck party in the backyard or a hibachi grill in a local park. You’ll do more than save money, as spending time in nature has also been shown to help boost your mental health.
Speaking of the great outdoors, did you know that Mother Nature puts on a spectacular show in the night sky? Those of us clustered in large urban centres generally miss out on it because of the light levels in our communities. However, once you get a little further away from the bright lights of the big city, the starry night sky is truly something to behold. In many areas across the country, dark sky preserves have been created to allow for enhanced viewings of the night sky.
At a dark sky preserve, lights in the surrounding municipalities are restricted to minimize or eliminate the artificial light pollution condition known as “sky glow.” The result is a stunning astronomical landscape that simply must be seen to be believed. The best part? Admission to national parks is only a few dollars per adult at most, and kids 17 and under get in for free!
If picnics or travel to far-off places to view the night sky aren’t your thing, activities like neighbourhood festivals and free concerts abound in the summertime. There is no shortage of ways to have summer fun on a budget in virtually every part of the country. The most important thing for you to remember is that it’s okay to have fun while you work towards your long-term financial goals. To make it easier, consider allocating small sums, like the cashback rewards portion from your credit card, to help fund the little things that make life fun.
If your card doesn’t offer perks like cash back rewards, you should take this opportunity to check out the Home Trust Preferred Visa Card. In addition to 1% cash back on all eligible purchases, the card has no annual fee and no foreign exchange transaction fees to help keep you going on your summer adventures. Visit our website to learn more.
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