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Tips for a successful (and fun) low-cost weekend

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En español | Have you ever sat down and figured out how much you actually spend during a weekend? The results could shock you. From errands to entertainment, the money you shell out every Saturday and Sunday can really add up over time. And if you have financial goals like getting out of debt, saving for a large purchase like a house or car, or building your retirement nest egg, your weekend spending could be hindering those goals.

A good way to revamp your weekend spending habits is to try to avoid spending any money at all—at least for one weekend. Impossible? Hardly. With a little advance planning, you can do a lot without dishing out any cash. And it doesn’t mean only chores 24/7—you can still have fun. Here are some ideas:

Channel your inner gourmet

Like to cook? You’re not alone. Interest in cooking has been steadily growing, thanks in part to the proliferation of reality cooking shows and celebrity chefs like the Barefoot Contessa or Wolfgang Puck. If you have food on hand (e.g., the chicken breasts and broccoli you bought a few days ago that are still in your fridge), make some meals that you can freeze in portions to bring to work or have for dinner. Not only is this way cheaper than eating out, it can also be much healthier.

Set yourself up for success!

Before your low-cost weekend starts, make sure you take care of the following:

  • Gas up – Fill your vehicles up on Friday night so you’re good to go all weekend.
  • Go grocery shopping – Whether you’re eating in or bringing nachos over to a friend’s house, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of food on hand.
  • Run those pesky errands – If you need your suit for Monday, be sure you make it to the dry cleaner before Saturday.

Have friends over for the game

Or better yet, head over to their house if they’re hosting! You can spend $50 pretty quickly by going out to watch your favorite team—but if everyone stays in and brings a dish to share, you could save a lot of money. Plus you can cheer as loud as you like without worrying about disturbing the next table over!

Get a dose of culture

When was the last time you went to a museum? Many have free admission weekends. Whether you’re into Rembrandt or Renoir, Picasso or Pollock, you’re sure to get inspired. Think you’re not into art? Try going just once—you might get hooked!

Find the floor in your bedroom

Take a few hours to tackle that messy bedroom... or garage, or basement, or attic! Ok, we get it—you don’t want to spend a precious weekend doing laundry and other household drudgery. But tidying up really does feel good, so put a couple of extra loads in the washer. Box up old books, clothes and household goods for donating. There are countless ways to get organized. Pick one or two and get moving.

Curbing your weekend spending can really pay off

Saving just $50 a weekend might not seem like a lot, but over time could have a big impact on your financial health.

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This hypothetical illustration assumes an annual after-tax contribution of $2,600 ($50 a week x 52 weeks a year), contributions at the beginning of the month, a 6% annual effective rate of return and taxes at 15%. Contributions are made after taxes are paid (i.e., $216.67 minus $32.50 for taxes= $184.17 contributed each month) and taxes are deducted on an ongoing basis from investment earnings.

Hypothetical results are for illustrative purposes only and not meant to represent the past or future performance of any specific investment vehicle. Investment return and principal value will fluctuate and when redeemed the investments may be worth more or less than their original cost.

Catch up on cable

Whether you call it a “movie marathon” or “film festival,” get friends and family together for a night in front of the flat screen. You pay a lot for those premium channels, so take advantage of them. Check programming schedules online and break out the popcorn maker.

Clean out your inbox

Whether it’s your personal or work account, there’s nothing better than hitting the delete key—multiple times. Getting rid of all those unwanted emails that have been piling up can feel liberating.

Take a nap (seriously!)

Americans get less and less sleep every year. Today, we average just 6.8 hours per night, less than the doctor-recommended 7 to 9 hours per night.1 Catching up on your ZZZs for a couple of hours is the ultimate (and free) energy refresher!

Enjoy the great outdoors

Whether it’s a bike ride along a local trail, a hike through the state park or just a walk around your neighborhood, get outside and enjoy the weather. You’ll be doing your body (and mental well-being) a favor, too. A 2013 government study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a whopping 80% of Americans don’t get the recommended amounts of exercise each week, setting themselves up for years of health problems.2

Organize a neighborhood cleanup

Giving back to your community can be richly rewarding. See if your neighbors would be interested in spending a few hours picking up trash along your local streets. Just grab some plastic garbage bags and go.

When your weekend comes to a close, resume your normal spending habits—you shouldn’t feel the urge to go hog wild after just two days. In fact, you may even think a little longer about your monetary choices the next time you reach for your wallet. Not doling out a dime for an entire weekend might be too weird of a concept for some, but give it a try if you can. It could help you break unhealthy habits, which may, in turn, have a positive impact on your immediate and future financial situation.

Learn more and take action

  • If you’re a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch customer, take advantage of Museums on Us®, a program that gets you free admission during the first weekend of every month to one of 150 museums nationwide.
  • Wondering what to do with all the money you saved on your low-cost weekend? Bank it, of course—with a Bank of America savings account!
 
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1 National Sleep Foundation, 2015, and everydayhealth.com, 2015.

2 “CDC: 80 percent of American adults don’t get recommended exercise,” Ryan Jaslow, cbsnews.com, May 2013.

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