I love having fun! In fact, I pretty much married my husband because he's such a fun guy (I mean among other positive traits, but this is definitely top 3). He keeps me on my toes.
Every month, we set aside a certain amount of money for "Fun Splurges." This month, we spent the money on Hornworm Chow because we are attempting to raise Sphinx Moths from eggs that my husband rescued from a dead Sphinx Moth that he saw while biking.
You think I'm kidding but I'm totally not. I think this is a fun activity, so we're doing it.
Fun, is one of my family's top values, and as a result we are happy to dedicate our resources (both financial and otherwise) to the pursuit of fun. However, because our resources are limited, we're very concerned about the bang for our buck when it comes to the pursuit of fun! These are my tips for maximizing fun while minimizing money spent.
1. Don't take yourself too seriously
Did you know that the reason that there is such a product as Hornworm Chow is that people raise Hornworms to sell to reptilian pet owners? Now you do.
The production and sale of insects is actually a decent sized business, but we aren't going to side hustle our way to riches by selling insects. This is not one of those "For Fun and Profit (but really only for profit)" ventures. It's just for fun, and I'm hopeful that we don't kill all the moths.
Sure, we look peculiar when we're bending over a bin and slapping fives when the moth finally eats something, but its fine. It's not like we look any more ridiculous than an average sports fan.
In the pursuit of fun, its okay to be a little silly. Let the watermelon drip down your arm this summer. Jump in a lake even though you forgot your swimwear. Try your hand at line dancing or Contra dancing the next time you're at a free outdoor music event.
Now, if you have read this blog long enough, you probably know that I really enjoy playing (or really winning) at various sports. I think that sporting leisure is much more fun if you are trying to win. In fact, it's not fun when people are not trying his or her best to win. However, it's 100% possible to take the game seriously while treating yourself with levity. This is typically called gamesmanship. It means not insulting other players, following all the rules with integrity, and not flipping out if you fail to perform perfectly every time.
Winning is of course more fun than losing, so your best off trying to win, but the journey will be fun if you try your hardest and don't take yourself to seriously.
How is this a money-saving tip? Well, if you're not too serious, you won't feel the need to "invest" in the highest quality gear, or to enroll in high cost leagues, or to otherwise spend so that you will make it to the top of your leisure field.
2. Relinquish relationship expectations to maximize fun
You know what sucks? When you feel like you're letting someone down. You know what sucks more? When you're letting someone down, and the activity is supposed to be fun!
This is a really subtle trap that people snare for themselves all the time, and if you fall into the trap you're going to fall in a fun-sucking vortex. Expectations during leisure can look like a whole host of things, "I want you to be happy, I want you to perform well, I want you to be grateful, I want you to laugh or smile, I want you to want to do the same thing as me."
How many fights with boyfriends/girlfriends have you had that included, "Why are you being such a dick when we're trying to have fun?" I've had a lot, which is how I know that an expectations can be fun ruiners.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's great to try to make someone else happy by planning a fun day for that person, but the pressure to have fun kills all the joy. Instead of focusing on your expectations of others, focus on your own attitude and how you can be attentive to the desires of others.
I think this is especially important when it comes to kids. Kids do not think the same things are fun as adults do. My son likes to hike with us, but by hike I mean, he likes to stand around the park bathrooms and poke at bugs. I can't really expect for him to enjoy riding in the camping backpack for several hours anymore. Our nature walks are barely over a mile these days. Even if you are a rockstar parent, your kids will find a way to complain or bicker during even the most fun activities. You'll still have to correct their behavior during fun activities, but that will only ruin the fun if you were expecting to have some time off from parenting while enjoying your kids.
3. Laugh Easily
Laughter is not only the best medicine, it's also the cheapest form of entertainment. You and your spouse have probably done enough stupid things together that it should be fodder for a good bit of laughter, and that's not to mention what you've done with your friends (or the things your kids have said and done). Unless you pretty actively avoid stupid, you should surely be able to laugh easily if you think about it.
I also recommend thinking like a comedian. Observe the world around you, and fixate on something that is a source of cognitive dissonance and then make a joke about it. When you're ready, you can tell the joke to others. Unfortunately, unless you've been trained in the performing arts your delivery will fall flat. No matter though, you can just laugh at yourself.
Some of my best memories involve pee in your pants laughter with my girlfriends which required nothing more than shared experience and perhaps an adult beverage. Seeking out laughter is a great way to have some fun!
Go forth and have some fun this weekend!
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.