If you’re prone to blowing your fun budget, you might have tried it all—from bailing on social plans with friends to going on a full-out spending fast—only to eventually fail miserably.
Why? Because deprivation budgeting can lead to serious burnout, and potentially even worse spending behaviors. “If you stop spending entirely on things you enjoy, that could really set you up for binge-spending,” says financial therapist April Lane Benson, PhD, author of “To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop.”
Enter the “swap it, don’t stop it” strategy, where you trade in your priciest spending pleasures, like eating out or exotic getaways, for a less-expensive variation that offers similar enjoyment and value. That way, you’ll never feel deprived or guilty about how much you spent.
Here are 11 ideas to get you started.
If dining out is one of your spending weaknesses, you’re not alone. In 2015, the average U.S. household spent more than $3,000 eating out, and the average dinner out costs about $36 per person, according to Zagat—and even more in places like L.A. and New York. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to spend less while still getting your foodie fix.
Find yourself spending the most on drinks? Scouting out happy hours—which you can easily do through apps like Loople—isn’t the only way to shave money off your bill.
In 2013, Americans shelled out $2,482—or about $200 a month—on entertainment alone. If you’re a sucker for an awesome amusement park, concert or comedy club, these alternatives can help you save.
According to a Travelex survey, Americans planned to take at least one vacation in 2016—and spend a total of $2,041 on it. If vacations are how you most love to spend your cash, that figure may be even higher. Outside of taking advantage of tweets and apps that scout out travel deals, there are a few ways to enjoy a fun-filled getaway for less.