That's Entertainment

Entertainment spending seems to be a big drain in people's budgets. It's like this giant leech that people think is cool, but is just sucking your blood and isn't necessary. You can have fun without leeches, bloodletting is so medieval. 

Moreover, it's the easiest area to curb spending and maximize fun because you don't need it to survive. (see: leeches don't help you survive and neither does seeing IMAX films) I know people who would scrimp and save all week, then blow it on one night out and become very frustrated. In this post, we'll look at what Enterainment spending is, how much it should be relative to your budget, and cheaper substitutes for expensive options. 

What is Entertainment spending?

  • Movies
  • Restaurants
  • Netflix/Red Box/Vid Angel
  • Date Nights
  • Going out with Friends/Co-Workers anywhere to spend money
  • Concerts
  • Date Night activities
  • Camping
  • Sporting Events
  • Comicon
  • anything else that entertains you and makes you part with your hard earned $. 

Or...basically anything that is fun and isn't part of your normal grocery budget. Now, if you subscribe to something like Netflix, where there is a monthly bill, you may separate that in your budget, but it would still fall under your Entertainment spending. 

There are so many ways to cut back on Entertainment spending and still have a great time. We need a revival of fun, cheap entertainment. Throw out the leeches! Your skin and blood will thank you. 

We enjoy having a "date night" every Friday night, which might seem excessive to some people. We even did regular date nights while we were paying off debt and while I was pregnant. We have not stopped with the baby. I find that regular dates help us have something to look forward to each week. We also are able to enjoy each others' company. 

However, sometimes we end up bringing a baby out to eat with us or have some very nice family watch her...

A general guideline is to have your Entertainment costs be 1/3 to 1/4 of your grocery costs. We spend $200-$300 a month on groceries. When we were paying off debt, that was $75-$120 a month depending on the budget. Thus, this would affect the Entertainment budget. This is isn't a set rule, but I think it helps keep in perspective how much you are spending on going out compared to what you are spending to keep your body alive and functioning. Priorities. We have been able to do this and still have our entire Entertainment budget under $80 per month. (Currently, our entertainment budget is down to $20 this month)
We keep each date to under $20. So we may not be dining out fancy, but we enjoy it. It's pretty easy, we look at yelp, group on, and menus online before going somewhere. We have some favorite haunts too. Also, many date nights are just an extra special meal at home with more expensive ingredients. We may also do something like mini golf, etc. 

One tip I have is if you like Indian food or Chinese food, anything where you order rice, you can order take out and make the rice at home. This has helped us keep our bill low. We also hardly ever order any drinks and instead get water or bring water canteens with us. That may sound extreme, but it's really fun. Also, if you live somewhere warm, picniking is underrated. Bring a baseball mit or a frisbee and you're basically living the American Dream, without spending a dime. 

If we do eat out somewhere fancier, we may eat a bit ahead of time and split a dish there.

By having many dates come in at $13 or $15 dollars for two people total, we are able to splurge if we want on another date out, say a movie in the theater or drive in if we want. 

Speaking of theaters, we RARELY go see films in the theater. Maybe 1-3 times a year. Usually we will rent a film online or from red box and watch it at home or with family. We also have no problem borrowing (and returning) dvds. The nice thing about watching a film at home, the snacks are free and you can add commentary Mystery Science Theater style all you want. 

Besides date nights, we enjoy cheaper forms of Entertainment like: 
  • swimming at a friend's pool (thank you super nice friends!)
  • swimming at a community pool ($5)
  • playing kickball/dodge ball/baseball with family at the park
  • bike rides
  • long walks/hiking/going to the beach
  • audiobooks
  • gardening
  • service for others
  • reading
  • cooking (esp. when done with friends)
  • clubs with other friends (book clubs, writing clubs, running clubs)
  • using the Library (they usually have events too if you have kids)

Our family hiking
There is so much to do when you think about it, that costs very little money. The list can go on and on. If you can prevent yourself from getting into the habit of spending to enjoy yourself. Instead, you can find activities where you meet/network/make friends and have fun. 

I would comment that activities like bike riding, cooking, gardening, and even sports require either start up costs or resources. Utilize what you have! We have friends and family who garden, so it is easier for us to start this hobby.

We bought a bike for $15 in the alley behind good will and fixed it up. Our cooking tools are cheap, hand me downs, second hand, or gifts. See what hobbies you can start without a lot of cost.
One example of a low cost form of entertainment is gardening. My husband and I recently planted some tomatoes and have had fun watering them and watching them grow. A friend was kind enough to give us the tomatoes and some family gave us tomato cages for them. We are able to enjoy growing them and harvesting them with no cost. 

Our tomatoes

Stop bleeding your money out, because you need it and it's not fun to be hemorrhaging funds. These are just a few ways to deflate your Entertainment costs while maximizing your enjoyment. 


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