How to have fun when you're trying to save

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It doesn't have to be all work and no play. But socialising is renowned for being a budget-buster if you're not careful. With a bit of planning you can have the best of both worlds – plenty of time out with your friends and family without going broke. Here's how to do it...

Decide what makes you happiest

Write down the types of activities that you find the most enjoyable. Make those your non-negotiables for your spending budget. Maybe it's theatre tickets every month, or saving for a fabulous two-week holiday.

The point is to set a very short list of your highest priorities. Once you determine what's at the top of the list, you can be stricter when it comes to spending money on anything else.

Focus on what matters most

The activity or the company? Chances are a big part of going out is to spend time with family and friends. Consider getting together on the cheap once in a while.

For every two or three times you go out, add a stay-in bring-a-dish/BYOB to your socialising mix.

Fun can be free

When the weather permits, there's no charge for spending time with friends lazing in a park or strolling a favourite neighborhood. If you're a city dweller, then Time Out tracks free activities and cheap eats.

Become a master budget-trimmer

No budget? Check out our easy-peasy five-step plan for creating a basic budget.

Look at your ongoing expenses and see where you might be able to cut back on some expenses.

For every set monthly charge – like data streaming on your mobile phone - is there a lower cost service tier that would still give you the service you want?

For flexible spending - such as food and entertainment - give yourself the 10% challenge:

Could you spend 10% less next month (or 20%...)?

Order less expensive drinks when you're out. If you spend £50 on a hair appointment every eight weeks, stretching appointments out to 10 weeks reduces the annual cost from £250 (5 visits) to £350 (7 visits) per year.

Rein in your spending while you're out

Before you head out for some fun, give yourself a spending limit. Maybe consider going old school and use cash rather than plastic. Tuck the money in a special part of your wallet or purse. That's all you will allow yourself to spend.

Celebrate your win-win

Becoming a money-conscious socialiser delivers the fun you deserve whilst practising smart financial management. Being in control of your spending is bound to add to your enjoyment.

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