How to budget, save enough and still have fun
When creating a budget, most people usually dedicate a certain figure to entertainment. However, this is often the first item to be struck off the budget when an individual wants to increase their savings or achieve a goal faster.
The entertainment budget is usually regarded with the same contempt as sin tax. But, that allocation is necessary. It is a way of rewarding oneself for a job well done.
It helps you nurture relationships and sweetens life’s experiences. Most people, however, don’t know what to include and what to leave out of an entertainment budget. Here is what to consider when creating one:
Your overall budget
Start by looking at your overall budget and what percentages you have allocated to each item. Have you set aside too much money for it, at the expense of other important items? To answer this, you will need to start by calculating your net income and tracing every cent. If you have extra sources of income such as commissions, side hustles or tips, or if you earn from freelancing and your pay is not fixed, you may have to gather all your income statements over the past three to six months to get a working average.
What to include
Your entertainment budget should include expenses related to items such as books, dancing classes, pay TV and trips. According to financial and investment consultant Philip Kamanu, this allocation should not be solely targeted at fun filled activities. It should also be channeled to experiences that enrich your lifestyle. For example, it will be unwise to allocate the biggest portion of it on alcohol. Consider incorporating a reasonable amount to visiting the museum or subscribing to an informative channel on the internet, which is now the cradle of entertainment and information.
According to Kamanu, your entertainment budget should range between 10 and 20 per cent. It will be best if you can allocate just five per cent of your net income on it. For example, if you earn Sh60,000 per month, and your annual total earnings amount to Sh720,000, your entertainment budget would then be Sh36,000 annually or Sh3,000 per month. Depending on your income, liabilities, and the number of family members you have, you may choose to increase or decrease this figure. Robert Ochieng, an investment advisor at Abojani Investments affirms this and adds that if you follow the 50:30:20 budgeting ratio, your entertainment budget should be in the 30 per cent category, which caters for personal self-development.
“If your monthly expenses include rent, transport, airtime, home internet, household shopping, food, family, entertainment, and Sacco savings, then 50 per cent of your income should include needs only,” says Ochieng. These are rent, food, family, airtime and the internet, and a special allocation known as ‘Things I forgot to budget for!’ That way, the 50 per cent allocation will not be too tight.
The 30 per cent section will include self-development, and this is where your entertainment allocation should fall in.
“This section is for things that are necessary for your long term well-being. They range from health, entertainment with friends, networking and tithe,” says Ochieng. It is out of these it that you will squeeze in the leisure budget. You can then save the remaining 20 per cent.
There are months when your budget will be stretched. In such months, you may opt to allocate zero to entertainment. “If you’re trying to adopt a frugal lifestyle you can forgo entertainment and find fun things to do for free,” says Chonce Maddox, a personal finance expert and the author of Mindset Over Money. She however points out that going frugal on entertainment doesn’t always mean removing it completely from the budget.
“I have tried the zero entertainment budget plan for a month. It worked out well, but then I realised that there are some things I like to do that cost little. It is therefore prudent to have some buffer so that in case you end up spending a little on the things you love, it won’t leave you in debt,” Ms. Maddox said.
Take advantage of Covid-19
Since the pandemic began, majority of places where leisure money can be spent have been largely closed or are only partially open. This has made many to realise just how much they have been spending on fun, and redirected the amounts to other expenditures.
“Many have found new and cost free ways of having fun without compromising their health. These include indoor activities such as camping in the backyard, grilling and baking,” says Ms. Maddox. As economies reopen and fun places such as the museum and parks emerge from the ruins of the pandemic, there is bound to be lots of promotions and discounts. Tap into these by checking out the discounted coupons and offers you can go for on a budget. Be creative.