If you’d like to trim your entertainment budget without sacrificing too much fun, it’s a good idea to plan out your options. It’s easier than you think and you may discover some brand-new interests.
Start by listing out the activities that you already know you enjoy. Separate them out by cost. It’s handy to break up your list into three parts: cheap activities (i.e. those that cost $20 or less), free activities, and more expensive options. Add to this list over time as you discover new entertainment options.
Remember to keep your eyes peeled for coupons, special offers, and other ways to cut down on the cost of entertainment. Online resources can point you towards a lot of great deals.
Getting out and taking in the natural world is a great way to decompress. If you’re bringing your family along, you can make a hike more exciting and more educational by studying up on your destination in advance. Take note of interesting things around your hiking trail (e.g. fossils, birds, or rare plants) and make a game out of finding them.
2. Local Festivals
Don’t overlook the value of tourist guides to your own neck of the woods! Hit your own state’s tourism website to learn about festivals and celebrations that might be going on in your region. These kinds of events are typically free or extremely reasonably-priced, which makes them great opportunities to have a fun day out in a new environment.
3. Minor League Sports
If you’re a sports fan, the ever-rising cost of tickets to your nearest pro games might be getting outside the reach of your entertainment budget. Take a look at alternatives in the form of minor league and college teams in your area. You’ll often find promotional offers and discounted games designed to encourage attendance. Take advantage of these opportunities to see some live action for minimal cost.
4. Local Theater
Even the smallest communities usually have a theater troupe or two dedicated to staging shows. The tickets are probably fairly cheap, but if you want an even more affordable entertainment options, ask about volunteer opportunities. If you lend a hand a civic venue you may be exposed to all sorts of shows and performances, including concerts, lectures, and plays. You’ll also be supporting the arts in your community, which is something you can brag about to your friends.
5. Family Movie Night
The movie theater is another place where prices seem to be on a nonstop upward climb. Getting a family of four out to see a first-run movie can cost well over $50, especially when you factor in the cost of snacks and drinks. Look for lower-cost ways to indulge your taste for cinema. Find out about your community’s “dollar” theaters, where slightly older movies are shown at significant discounts.
For the most frugal option, you can always curl up at home with a movie from a streaming service or even one checked out of your local library. Remember that you’ll need snacks for a home movie night. With a little planning, this part of the evening can be turned into a fun family activity too.
6. Free Music
Free concerts are offered in a lot of different cities. You can check out opportunities to see a show in your area by searching online or by checking the entertainment section of your newspaper. Stop by your newspaper’s website, as well. Most papers have free email newsletters that will keep you up-to-date on local event schedules.
7. Replace Restaurant Meals With Home Dining
A trip to a restaurant definitely counts as entertainment when you’re stepping out as a family. The cost gets prohibitive if you want to dine out more than once in a blue moon. A good home-cooked meal with a little extra attention paid to the menu can be a notable event all by itself. Get your whole family involved in the selection and preparation of the meal. This can turn a simple dinner into an educational experience for your kids.
Alternatively, you can put your social network to work by arranging a potluck dinner. This can be as casual or as fancy as you want to make it, and if every attendee chips in with a small dish or a bottle of wine, you can put together quite a feast.
8. Game Night
Hold a regular family game night. This adds structure and fun to your weekly schedule with minimal cost.
9. Borrow A Book
Instead of buying that book you’re dying to read, reach for your library card instead. Library borrowing costs you nothing and supports an important local institution.
Besides making you more appreciative of the time you take to go out and have fun, budgeting your entertainment options more tightly will encourage you to get creative and open yourself up to new experiences. Saving money is always a good thing and discovering cheaper entertainment can be a way to have fun while you do it!