12 May 2012

Spending Too Much Money on Weekends?

We enjoyed a picnic lunch on the bank of this river on one of our drives
Oh the weekend…it’s two days we seem to almost live for. I start praying for Friday evening on Sunday night. I love the weekend, we don’t have to work and Saturday and Sunday become a celebration for five days of hard work.

They can also become the two days we break our diet, forget our exercise routine and forget all about your Spending Plan. While the diet and exercise part can be easily recovered from (well in theory anyway), forgetting your Spending Plan can have lasting effects.

It is very tempting to splurge on the weekend. You've worked hard all week and deserve a treat or two (or three or four or five….) and not worry about the Spending Plan.  If you find money flows like water on the weekends and you’re going a bit crazy with the spending, take a look at your Spending Plan and adjust it so you have a weekend allowance. Take out the amount of cash you’re allowed to spend on the weekend and spend only the money you have in your purse or wallet. This will help you stay on track and will help you control your money on the weekends.

In fact, when you head out, don’t even take your debit and credit cards with you; leave them at home. If you don’t like carrying cash, then get yourself a Visa gift card from the Post Office with $50, $75 or $100 on it. Then you can use this to take care of your weekend spending instead of carrying cash.  And once it's gone, it's time to head home for some free fun.

Which leads me to this: substitute expensive activities for inexpensive or free ones. You don’t need unplanned spending to enjoy your weekend. For example, instead of going window shopping, which is never cost-free, you always buy something, or heading to the movies, go to the park or take advantage of festivals and free days at local attractions. Get outside whenever possible, even in winter. Going on a hike, taking a bike ride or even getting in the car and heading to explore a new area are all inexpensive and fun ways to spend a day.

Wayne often suggests we go for a drive on a Sunday afternoon. It only takes a few minutes to boil the jug and fill the thermos, while that's happening I pack some fruit and perhaps some muffins or cake or even sandwiches, put them all in the picnic basket and we're off.  We usually don't have a destination in mind, just wherever the road takes us is good enough.

Our spontaneous road trips have led us to some beautiful spots, right on our doorstep. We've found some lovely camping spots and marked them on our map for future summer weekends, met some lovely people, and just enjoyed being together in the bush. After a couple of hours we head on home, refreshed and relaxed and just plain happy.

We are not big on eating out, saving it for a special treat (like Mother's Day, we are going to our local Chinese restaurant tomorrow night) but If you like to eat out then plan on going out to eat only once each weekend. Eating out can eat up money incredibly fast, destroying a Spending Plan in just one or two meals if you are not very careful. A Sunday morning brunch, with the newspapers, watching the people go by, will fill in a couple of hours and is a less expensive way of enjoying eating out. Or be super savvy and look for coupons in your local paper, online or even in the junk mail.

Instead of eating out all weekend, why not use the time to make food in? This can be both an inexpensive activity and a great way to save money. With so many cooking shows on TV and recipes online it is very easy to replicate restaurant meals in your own kitchen, for a fraction of the price.  I heartily recommend Rilka's Feasts by Rilka Warbanoff and Sally Wise's From My Kitchen to Yours for some delicious, easy and very budget friendly recipes - just be aware that although they are budget friendly, they could blow your diet.

For many of us, avoiding the shops over the weekend is almost impossible. When you work full-time shopping at the weekend is often the only time available. So I recommend you shop with a list. I know I must sound like a broken record on this, but it really does save you a lot of money. The weekend is often when we take care of the grocery, household and clothing shopping that needs to be done, and it’s so very easy to shop impulsively when you’re in a beautifully lit and decorated shopping centre. Don’t let this happen. Make a list before you head out and only buy what’s on your list. Remember, if it's not on the list, you can't buy it!

I found over the years that the easiest way to not spend money over the weekend was to simply spend time with my family. Family time at home making crafts, playing games and just getting together and hanging out is free. And you don’t need to be doing something frivolous - working together in the garden and around the home can be just as much fun as watching a DVD or playing a board game. It's not only a lovely way to enjoy your children but you are teaching them that you don't need to be out and about, spending money to have fun.

As your children grow, your family time together changes. Spending time with them will become more social, perhaps more family dinners and barbecues. Then they start bringing home friends, who become girlfriends and boyfriends. If you have an established pattern of family time, be it in the kitchen, around the table or in the garden, they will still want to spend time with you.  You have taught them from an early age that being together, enjoying each other's company, is more fun than spending money. Psychologists may call it bonding, I call it being a family.

Yes, the weekends are a time to take care of errands, to celebrate a productive workweek and to enjoy yourself. However, that doesn’t mean you have to bust your Spending Plan. Stay on track and have fun and really enjoy your weekend.

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