Having free time during the weekends tends to cause us to spend more money in two short days than we do the rest of the week. When we’re stuck working five out of seven days, we want to use the other two to have fun and do stuff — but those activities can cost us.
Here’s how to avoid those weekend money traps.
Have Meals at Home
Going out to eat is something almost everyone loves to do. We want to treat ourselves to a nice meal at the end of the week. However, the price gap between eating at home and eating out is getting wider. It’s easier to just go and have your meal made, but buying groceries is a lot cheaper.
What can you do? Plan out your meals for the week so you know what you’re making each day. It makes it easier when you’re in a routine to avoid going out. If friends want to go out to eat, suggest having a potluck or dinner party. You can also alternate cooking duties each time you get together. With a potluck, no one has to make the entire meal, and rotating lets you share responsibilities — and both of those involve saving money you’d spend at a restaurant. Score.
Wait Until That Movie Is Available to Rent
Going to the movies is always tempting when you’re bored and want something to do. However, the cost of a ticket is already around $10, and we all know the markup on any snacks you might want is insane. Unless it’s a movie you absolutely have to see in a theater, it’s much more cost-effective to wait until it’s available to rent.
There are various sites and services you can use to stream or rent movies. If you have a Redbox near you, it’s $1.50 per day. Netflix and Hulu have monthly charges for access to their catalog of shows and movies. Amazon and iTunes both have video rentals available.
There are a ton of options — all of which are less expensive than a movie theater. Plus, you can buy snacks for much cheaper at a grocery store.
Only Shop When You Need To
Hanging out at the mall is a popular pastime. You can say you’re just going to window shop and look around, but it usually ends up with you buying something. It’s best just to go to the mall when you actually do need to make a purchase.
Even then, though, there’s always something that catches your eye. To avoid the dreaded “impulse buy,” go with a list and try to restrict yourself to buying only what’s on it. If you need a new winter jacket, for instance, don’t go looking at shoe stores. Only go to places that have what you need.
Additionally, if you’re really feeling the need to shop, try going to the grocery store. You can scratch that itch while also buying food for your family — which is something you definitely need. Bonus: This also helps you avoid eating out!
Limit How Much You Go to Events
Concerts and sports games are a ton of fun. They’re also a lot of money. The tickets alone can be extravagant, let alone concessions and parking for the event. If you live far away from the venue, you might also have to pay a lot in gas and for a place to stay after.
Try to limit these things to a few times a year, at most. I’m guilty of flying out to LA and San Francisco several times a year to watch NBA games, so I make sure to plan ahead so I can better manage my budget for these. You can often get a better view of games on the TV at home, but, we know, it doesn’t necessarily give you the same atmosphere.
However, limiting the number of events you go to forces you to choose the ones that are most important to you, so they’ll likely be that much better in terms of the experience.
Plan Ahead for Your Road Trip
Weekend road trips are a fun getaway, but their costs can add up if they aren’t properly planned. Gas and the wear on your car can be expensive. You’ll also probably end up eating out a lot more, and staying at a hotel isn’t cheap. Plan ahead for a road trip, instead of taking an impulsive one.
Choose the most fuel-efficient car out of whoever is going, or rent one and share the costs. Instead of always buying food, pack a cooler of sandwiches and drinks with you, along with some snacks. This can help you make fewer stops, too. You can also road trip to a place where you have family or friends you can stay with instead of spending money on a hotel, or just go somewhere for the day. This can cut down on costs significantly.
You can still have fun on the weekends — just be wary of how much it’s costing you. If you plan ahead and limit yourself, you can avoid those weekend money traps and enjoy your weekends the thrifty way!