Entertainment expenses can take up a large portion of a family’s budget and time. How often have we picked up that new release from Blockbuster only to be a week late returning it – and paying the resultant late fee. Sometimes entertainment includes eating out (or snacking out), movie theater trips, shopping (without purpose), and sports and concert events. If your family is a devoted fan of your local semi-pro hockey team and you go to almost every game without fail, I certainly don’t advocate tossing your season passes to cut your expenses as long as you can comfortably afford them. However, there are some ways to cut down on entertainment costs, no matter what form of entertainment is your poison of choice.
- Unlimited Movie Rentals without the Late Fee: Try subscribing to either Netflix or Blockbuster unlimited monthly rentals with no late fees. You can get anywhere from 1-3 DVD’s out at a time depending on the subscription package you buy. Of course, you could also try your library…as long as you take it back on time!
- Stream Movies at Home: You can also stream movies to your computer at home, or through select devices depending on who you’re streaming through. If you have at least a DSL connection, you can typically stream without too much of an issue although you will see delays and even poor streaming from time to time. You can get all kinds of TV shows and movies free through sites like Hulu.com
- Go Outside: Try getting out of the house! Go to a park, hike, picnic, play basketball, or take a walk. None of it requires money and it’s healthy for the whole family to get outside and play. Don’t forget to bring water!
- Go to Afternoon Movies: If you are going to go out to the movies, go in the afternoon because the matinée prices are about half the price of the evening showings. Be sure to eat before you go so that you save on snacks and drinks because you feel full! Check your local movie theater listings as sometimes there are “$1.50” movie theaters that play movies that are on re-run instead of new releases at a very low cost.
- Play Games: Traditional board games are still an option, although they seem to have fallen out of favor lately. There are lots of new games out in additional to other things like puzzles, drawing games, word games, and card games.
- Volunteer: A great way to spend time together as a family is to volunteer. You can go to a local food bank, animal shelter, soup kitchen, or any other local charity organization that might need a few hours of help. It’s a great way to meet people and help others. For kids, it’s a great way to teach them about helping others.
- Read a Book: Reading books are still a time honored tradition. You can read a book out loud to the family or curl up with a good book by yourself. Local libraries have tons of books for free, and there are tons of books to be found online for free as well.
- Listen to Music: You can listen to music at home or go out to concerts. You can usually find discount tickets online. Save money by sitting further back. For many classical performance halls, the best acoustics are in the balcony or top levels and often are also the cheapest seats. Checking your local County and City web pages may also show a number of completely free live concerts available as well!