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Living Paycheck to Paycheck but Having FunToo

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Living Paycheck to Paycheck but having fun too | Zero Dollar Entertainment Budget | Having Fun on a Budget | Tips for Having Fun | Cheap Entertainment

The following post is from Sarah at A Matter of Cents.  She’s a new mom, former accountant, and current business owner who is throwing herself into freelance writing now too.

Finding ways to make a dollar go further can be challenging. I know from my 20’s and 30’s that paychecks don’t always go as far as you need them to stretch. Being a responsible adult is a drag, but I’ve found some ways to create extra spending money without picking up a second job or cutting spending.

I have found that even if I save some extra money for something fun, that same money gets used for some “adult responsibilities” like unforeseen auto expenses or doctor visits. So I decided to get creative.

A Truly Free Lunch (or Dinner)

Get that dinner paid for by someone else!

Dining out is a common way to get out of the house and have a nice treat. Sometimes we do this a little too often. But if someone else is footing the bill, there is less need to cut it out of the budget!

No, I am not suggesting having a guy take you to dinner…besides, when you get married, it doesn’t help that “that guy” is using your joint account to pay anyway.

I’m talking about secret shopping!

You can get your meals out, including tips, covered by becoming a secret shopper. Companies will actually pay your tab to go and experience one of their venues. You would follow their protocol like: order an appetizer, two entrees, two drinks, and dessert. Which isn’t bad at all unless you are calorie counting! Then you’ll take a survey about your experience and get the night out comped.

Winner-winner chicken dinner…or seafood!

Test Drives for the Win

How to Have Fun While Living Paycheck to Paycheck | Cheap Family Activities | Free Entertainment | Cheap Date Ideas | Having Fun for Free | Family FunLooking for ideas on how to get some extra money for a fun purchase? You could spend a little time driving around. I don’t mean drive for Uber either, I mean test drive a car.

Dealerships often have a deal where you can get a gift card for up to $75 just for test driving one of their cars.  I’m test driving a Subaru this next week for $25. I don’t actually intend on buying a Subaru, though I didn’t intend to buy a Mazda in 2006 either, but I did…

The dealerships want a chance to sell me that car. I want to get $25 for movie tickets to have a date night with my husband some time soon.

Remember to say ‘no’ to buying that fun little car they’ll let you drive. Then the only hard part is agreeing on a movie.

Use Your Rewards

Charge it! I don’t mean put it on a credit card to pay off in 3 years. I mean get a credit card with some great perks and remember to check on them. There are so many different options.

I have several cards and just recently started checking into the perks they provide. My bank’s debit card had racked up 40,000 points and I was able to trade those in for $400 in Kohl’s gift cards right when I needed maternity clothes! And then there was Kohl’s cash – $10 for every $50 you spent. So, oh lord, let me tell you! I have the cutest maternity clothes and got an extra $80 to boot! I’m no longer pregnant and wearing them, but they are in my closet ready to go for baby number 2.

Plus, points can be easy to get! Stick to just your regular spending at the grocery store, gas station, monthly utility bills, etc.  Then pay it off before it accrues interest.  We aren’t wanting to rack up debt, only points! Get movie tickets, gift cards, airplane tickets and more by changing the way you pay for your monthly expenses.

These ideas can help you feel like you aren’t in the poor house while getting you out of the house as well!



FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $80,000-$100,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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7 thoughts on “Living Paycheck to Paycheck but Having FunToo

  1. Every once in a while you will run into a salesperson who will insult you and refuse to give you the gift card until you call for the manager at those car dealerships. I think the gift card sometimes comes out of the sales person’s commission, so you may not want to go in for a gift card unless you like to ruffle feathers.
    Instead of going to the movies, rent a Red Box movie, pop your own popcorn, take a walk around your neighborhood, or plant a garden in your flower beds. Use your own coffee grounds to help enrich your flower beds. Eat cheaper on a regular basis to save up enough to go out if it is important to you. Go shopping with a friend whom has a warehouse membership, or buy grains (rice, oatmeal, quinoa), dried legumes, eggs, chicken, and frozen veggies to make up your own healthy meals. If you need items remember to go by your Good Will or other donation center and check for deals. Wasting hours aggravating a sales person or figuring out how to get a free meal seems inefficient use of your time in the long run. Be wary of using points to buy stuff, as you sometime end up buying things you did not need and do not have the space to keep. I use cash back credit cards where I can use the cash back to pay off the balance every month. Unless I always shop at a place I do not buy gift cards because it generally leads to unneeded purchases. On some cards, like travel awards, you have to pay an annual fee which is only economically good when you will be traveling A LOT. Everyone is different, but most people are not going to enjoy the thought and effort it takes to come out ahead in most of these schemes, although I have always paid off credit card balances, so I have always used a credit card with rewards and it does pay off–as long as you pay off the balances on time, every time as recommended in this blog. Otherwise it can become a lifelong trap.




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  2. I’ve only recently heard about becoming a secret shopper. It sounds so interesting and fun! I’ve only read about it in passing, never though of actually signing up for it 🙂

    As far as credit cards go, I must admit I currently don’t have one. I found them to be too risky so I’ve turned down every single one my bank insisted I sign up for. The rewards weren’t worth the risk anyway.




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  3. I’d have a hard time doing the test drive for gift cards! I’m too wimpy when it comes to salespeople; I’d be afraid they would bully me. But if you can handle that risk, go for it!




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  4. Track your spending. If you don’t know where your money goes, it can be difficult to find opportunities to save. Keep track of your spending habits to help identify areas where you can cut expenses.
    I use Geltbox Money -automatic download from any website (banks,credit cards), high level of security (Your financial data is securely stored and encrypted only in your personal computer),
    When using Geltbox you don’t need to give your banking account numbers and passwords to a third party.
    Geltbox doesn’t use any third party Aggregation site (the user can aggregate his own data without exposing private data to any third party /web site).




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