10 Easy Ideas to Make Your Next Budget Session Fun

10 Easy Ideas to Make Your Next Budget Session Fun

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This month, I’m challenging the listeners of the Marriage, Kids and Money Podcast and the readers of this blog to live on a monthly budget. Let’s make this budget challenge fun!

Now, the word “budget” can make some people cringe. For some, the word puts out a vibe of restriction, lack and boredom. But for those that live on a monthly budget and know its benefits well, they understand that it really provides liberation, abundance and it can be a lot of FUN.

Here are 10 suggestions that can add some FUN into your next (or first) budget session:

1. Put Your Goals Up Front

Before you start each session, remind yourself why you’re doing it. Do you want to pay off debt? Is there a savings goal you’re trying to meet? Do you want to pay off your mortgage early!?

With that goal in mind, you’ll find the drive and excitement in the budgeting process.

2. Pizza, Beer, Wine

When my wife and I were DINKS, we always ordered a pizza for our “Budget Party”. We’d have some wine, beer or a cocktail (my wife is partial to a good Mimosa). This made our get togethers feel more like a party than a meeting. A little buzz and your finances … what could go wrong!?

3. Kids? Take it to the Play Place!

Now that my wife and I have two kids, we have to get more creative with the budgeting process. Just having a couple of hours of free time feels like a party!

Holding onto Daddy's Legs
Why we have to leave the house to budget …

One of our favorite parenting hacks lately has been going to a place near our house called Jungle Java. They have a gigantic playscape that allows our kids to run around and work off their kookiness. They also have wi-fi and coffee for Nicole and I do our budget each month. A win for our kids, our finances and our sanity.

4. Sit Outside on a Beautiful Day

When the sun is shining, we go outside to absorb some Vitamin D while soaking in some Vitamin $. (See what I did there?)

Our kids enjoy our backyard, a local playscape or ride their bikes on our driveway while we hash out this month’s numbers. Breathing fresh air and enjoying some rays is an excellent way to bring some fun into the budgeting process.

5. Throw it up on the Big Screen

Let’s say the weather is not so great and you’re hunched over the laptop crunching the numbers … Throw it up on the big screen TV at your house if you have one! This will make you feel like you have a Money Command Center. You can use an HDMI cord or a Google Chromecast to project what’s on your laptop. Easier on the eyes for sure!

6. Coffee Shop Retreat

Another great place to find some excellent wi-fi, caffeine and peace is your local coffee shop. Set yourself up at one of the tables and you and your partner can get rockin’.

7. Play the “If I had a million extra dollars” game

By asking yourself what you would do with an abundance of money, you’re uncovering your true dreams. If your answer is “I would have a lot more free time to relax and not go to work every day”, then you sound like a great candidate for early retirement. You’ve got your reason to budget now!

If you’d want start your own business with the $1,000,000, you’ve just learned that entrepreneurship is a huge priority for you. Yes, you’ll still have to figure out how to get that $1,000,000 (of course), but now you’ve put some clarity on your dreams.

8. Use a Budgeting Tool

If you’re armed with drive and motivation, you’ll be a good budgeter. If you’re also equipped with an online budgeting system, you’ll be a great budgeter. And it’ll be more fun.

Mint has been my steady eddy budgeting tool for the past 5 years. It is FREE, intuitive and it provides extreme clarity to your finances.

Tiller is a new spreadsheet-based money management tool. If you like getting your hands in data and having more control, they could be a good partner for you.

9. Make it a Game

If you’ve set a budget for $600 for this month for groceries, use those budgeting tools to challenge yourself to stick to it. Challenges can be fun! Unleash that competitor inside of you and rock your budget this month.

10. Reward Yourself

Did you hit a milestone like paying off your student loans? Make sure you celebrate those big events! Have some champagne, go out to a nice dinner or invite your loved ones over to celebrate your victory. This is a big deal. You are controlling your money and winning!

Over time, our “Budget Parties” have helped our family to pay off all of our debt, purchase two completely paid-for cars and (most recently) pay off the mortgage on our $400,000 home. I can honestly say if we didn’t infuse a little fun into the budget process, I’m not sure we would have stuck with it. 


What are your strategies for putting the fun in money management?

Leave a comment below!


 

Author: Andy Hill

Andy Hill, a mid-30’s father of two living in the metro Detroit area, pens the MarriageKidsandMoney.com (MKM) blog taking you through the trials and tribulations of being a young parent and husband who is planning for his family’s future and winning with money.

4 thoughts on “10 Easy Ideas to Make Your Next Budget Session Fun”

  1. We’ve been doing budget every month since 2015 and it works!!! At first it was tricky, but after couple of month we learned our ropes and now “the budget meeting” takes 5-10 minutes.
    And you should definitely try YNAB, or Every Dollar. We’ve used both but decided to stick with YNAB, it’s great tool.

    1. Thanks for the YNAB recommendation… I’m getting into it this month. It has a lot of nuances that I’m figuring out but I like the strategy behind it. Spend some that you have instead of money that you will have.

  2. Ever since I came across Dave Ramsey and people like Mr. Money Mustache a couple of years ago, this kind of stuff seriously keeps me up at night. I am starting late given that this was never the focus of any conversations I had growing up or even as an adult. I know people that think “car payments are just a part of life”. Around the age of 39 (I am 42 now), I was like, that does not make sense! I am a late bloomer. Around this time, I began to tackle all my CC debt. All gone now. I put about 1200 a month into 401K and 500 a month into a high yield savings account. I’ve started to think about a robo-advisor account and/or college for my only child. At my age, is it wise to throw all of that into my mortgage instead of 401k? I ask because, we have to move again soon. We moved in 2015 and we really should have been more careful about our mortgage plan but I think we can make a smarter choice this time with a 15 year loan. Is this the kind of stuff you are ok getting asked? 🙂

    1. Thanks for the note! It sounds like you’ve tackled most of your high interest debt. If you get a fairly low interest mortgage (4% or less), I would concentrate on building up your retirement savings through your 401k or a Roth IRA and not worry about paying off the mortgage right away. Shield as many of those dollars from Uncle Sam as possible! It’s never too late to take advantage of a 529 college savings account for your child either. Some states (like mine) even have state tax breaks for contributions. Shoot me an email through my contact page so we can talk further – I’d love to help.

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