thousandairebudgetIf you’ve made the decision to buckle down and get serious about your budget, kudos to you. Starting to make a monthly budget (and then actually adhering to it!) is a big commitment, but it’s one that pays dividends financially and in peace of mind. There are a lot of misconceptions that budgeting as part of your lifestyle is a restrictive practice, but if you’ve been budgeting for even a few months, you probably have noticed that you feel more freedom than before. Now that you know exactly where your money is going, you don’t have to feel guilty about spending in those categories and you don’t have to stress about whether or not you’ll make ends meet each month.

But there’s also the reality that budgeting does require you to make some tough choices. If you’re sticking to a plan and avoiding debt simultaneously, you can’t be wasteful with your money. You can no longer spontaneously book three expensive vacations on your credit card just because you got a sudden urge to see the world. You might have to choose between tennis lessons and your gym membership because there’s just not enough room in your budget for both. But just because you’re now learning to be cognizant of your money habits, and make intentional decisions to further your financial health, doesn’t mean you have to live without a few indulgences. Here are some tips on smart ways to splurge a little, all within the boundaries of your budget. 

Get App-y

Technology not only helps to make our lives easier, but it also grants us access to deals at our fingertips. If you want to have a little fun and not bust your budget, you might want to download a few new apps. One such app is Hotel Tonight, which helps you get the best, last minute deals on hotels in your area if you make your booking the same day. Hotels are eager to fill their vacant rooms, so they tend to come down significantly on price at the last minute. If you’ve been putting off a romantic staycation with your spouse or even a fun getaway to the beach with the kids, you might not have to delay anymore. Give Hotel Tonight a try, and see if you can get a screaming deal on a hotel that suits your needs (and wallet).

Have you recently made cuts to your budget on unessential categories, like clothing, games and home décor? If so, you can think twice about this. When doing your window shopping online for items you wish you could buy, check out the RetailMeNot app before giving up hope. This app catalogs all the most recent coupon codes for a vast array of brands, and you never know what kind of discount could be waiting for you. Even if the current item of your dreams doesn’t have an applicable coupon today, keep checking the app. You never know when new codes and offers are going to be added. 

Do Your Research

Cell phones are the gateway to nearly everything we need in today’s world. Communicating with loved ones, checking our work emails, staying up to date on the news and browsing for nearby restaurants are just a few of the ways in which we typically use our devices on a daily basis. But our phones can also be an enormous expense. If you’re in the early days of budgeting, you might have decided that your cell phone expenses are an area you can slash. After all, you can make do with a flip phone, right?

Although this might not be the worst idea, you might not have to get this drastic. There are definitely ways to have a really nice phone and still be true to your budget. Do your homework, and compare all the cellular carriers out there. If you find a reasonably priced plan, such as what T-Mobile offers, you could still get a great phone like the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and only pay an additional $20 per month. This way, you keep your costs low but don’t sacrifice on all the bells and whistles you’re probably accustomed to (like data and nice cameras).   

If you use apps to your benefit and research thoroughly before buying any big purchases that require contracts (like your cell phone), you can still live the good life — all while being faithful to your budget.