Are you caught between saving for a rainy day and making the most of the moment? Planning for the future or fulfilling short-term needs and wants? Treating yourself like you’re going to live forever or just plain treating yourself? Sometimes, balancing frugal living and enjoying today can be difficult, especially when you’re looking ahead to your golden years.  Here are some tips for finding the comfortable middle ground between spending and saving it all.

Cover your basic needs.  Tending basic responsibilities, like ensuring you have healthcare coverage, can not only provide peace of mind right now, it can also help you later. Investing in preventative care can help assure any current medical concerns are addressed in a timely fashion before they get worse and cost you even more to treat.  With that in mind, if you haven’t signed up for Medicare yet, now is the perfect time.  If you already have a plan in place but want to change something, note you don’t have to be stuck with your previous choice.  During the Annual Election Period, you can make changes to both your Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage.  This period typically runs from October 15th through December 7th, Checking this off your to-do list early will alleviate concerns and allow you to turn your attention to living life fully.

Adopt a dog.  Owning a pet is shown to offer many important health benefits, such as boosting your immune system, improving your social life, lowering risk for hypertension and high cholesterol, and reducing stress and anxiety levels.  People with dogs typically are more active and happier, too.  Instead of buying a puppy, consider adopting a dog from a rescue or shelter.  Not only are you helping an animal in need, rescued pets normally come all “fixed up,” which can save you some major dollars. These pets have been around the block, so they often are already housebroken. And don’t worry about finding a pet whose personality and energy level matches your own. The group placing the pooch will often help match the dog with the household to help find a good fit.

Explore your community.  Have you ever taken a vacation right where you live? Affectionately referred to by local enthusiasts as a “staycation,” taking advantage of the events and attractions in your own backyard is fun and frugal entertainment.  Explore your community calendar for festivals, concerts and art fairs. Venture across town to take advantage of restaurants and food trucks that serve recipes from other countries and cultures. Finally, check out area museums, which often offer free entry on certain days of the week as well as discounts for seniors.

Farm fun.  Are you familiar with agritourism?  You can learn more about area culture and experience interesting products firsthand.  Many farms offer interesting tours, workshops and other events.  Farmers markets, herb farms, and dairy farmers are just a handful of options.  Wall Street Journal suggests brushing up on your wine tasting knowledge before visiting area vineyards. If beer or liquor are more your speed, you can explore local breweries and distilleries instead.

Start a club.  What are your favorite pastimes?  Do you love reading, prefer savoring good food, or enjoy hiking trails through the woods?  By connecting with people who share your interests, you spice up your social life while stretching your budget.  You can start a club to regularly review books, connect for meals, or meets at different parks on Saturday mornings.  Hobby clubs are also a fun, inexpensive way to enrich your lifestyle.

When you enjoy the benefits of a balanced lifestyle, you don’t have to feel guilty for spending too much or confined by a zero-dollar entertainment budget. Tend your basic needs first, then have some fun!  Life is short, and you don’t need to miss out on a single thing.

Article by Jim McKinley