The holidays are over, the new year is here, and winter is on the way out (wishful thinking as I sit with my fireplace warming me. Sigh). If you read my new year’s blog, you know that I decided not to set big goals this year, but instead focus on ensuring joy, love and laughter fill my life.
Weaving those words into my daily life includes doing things that make me happy. Travel is a big ‘make me happy’ piece of my life, as are opportunities to try new things, meet new people and spend time with family and good friends.
As I’m making plans for travel and adventure this year, I also am conscious about saving money to smartly afford these plans. I certainly splurge here and there like anyone might but I balance those special treats with discipline and commitment to keep money in my pocket (and mostly in my bank account). I rarely pay full price for clothes, bike accessories, home decor, electronics, and more. Here are a few ways to save money while having fun and enjoying life:
Look for ‘first time’ specials. Businesses need both current and new customers to make profits. Many businesses draw in new customers with special offers. For example, I love massages. Between regular exercise and every day stress, my body needs relaxation help. But I don’t like spending lots of money on spa treatments. So imagine my excitement when a recent quick online search of local spas found four places with first time customer specials (saving $10-$25 per massage!). Guess who will be indulging in four upcoming massages? Many fitness centers and gyms offer a free workout or complimentary week-long pass to try their facility. Call to ask about specials.
Sign up for emails. I know, I know, I almost rolled my eyes as I wrote this. I spend more time unsubscribing from email lists. However….many stores and companies offer discounts and coupons if you sign up for their email lists. Some stores offer previews and special offers only to their email lists. And don’t forget, the delete button works wonderfully. Or you can unsubscribe.
Celebrate happy hour. Who doesn’t love happy hour?! My friends and I often schedule our gatherings during happy hour to take advantage of discounts on food and drinks. Happy hour times can vary so look online or call ahead. Consider also making plans for not too popular days, such as Sunday afternoon or Monday evening. When I was younger, a local restaurant offered 2-for-1 pizza deals on Mondays so my family often chose this night to eat out.
Check online specials. I often check websites for online pricing and specials. Many stores will match online pricing if it’s lower on their website (Target is one example). When I travel for pleasure, I look on Groupon, Living Social or other discount websites for local specials on entertainment, restaurants or other activities I might be interested in trying during my visit. I really wanted to go to a luau when I visited Maui so was giddy to find an online discount code for the location I wanted.
Be flexible. Many hotels, airlines, restaurants and some businesses often discount rates on certain days of the week or times of day. Some hotels offer discounts on amenities, special packages or even a free night when added to a stay. When I traveled to Boston last October, flexing my arrival day saved me over $200 on my flight! As I mentioned earlier, some restaurants and businesses hold specials on typically slower days. Being flexible when you can may allow you to save money….and you never know what unexpected fun may be had!