The average American spends about $1,800 a year on entertainment and that’s not including eating out. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have fun. Who wants to live frugally if it’s all tedium and drudgery? If we are to be successful at living within the budget, it’s essential to find ways to unwind and have fun. So here are some ways to have lots of great entertainment without all the expense:
Cancel your cable or streaming services. Ouch! That may be a big one for some. But really, who needs 200 channels? There are lots of free streaming services that offer quality movies and TV shows. At the very minimum, limit your paid streaming to just one service.
Use the library instead. Your library has lots of great DVDs, not to mention books. The selection is always updated, so you won’t get bored. Check out books instead of buying them.
Buy books cheap. OK, so you really, really need to have a certain book sitting on your shelf. Look for it at the thrift store or buy it from Ebay. Books on Ebay cost a fraction of what’s in the bookstore and usually you can’t even tell if the book has been used. Thrift store shelves are filled with all the books that were popular just a couple months ago.
Sign up to be a mystery shopper. Mystery shoppers get paid to go to select restaurants and movies and then submit a report. Often the voucher is for you and a guest. The pay isn’t much, maybe $10 or $20 but the movie and dinner are free.
Look to the community for free entertainment. This is especially easy during the summer. North Dakota summers are filled with community celebrations, parades, fairs, and expos. Watch for free movies and concerts in the park, movie screenings at the library or a free or half-off day at the zoo or museum. There’s enough to keep the whole family entertained every weekend during the summer.
Game night at home. Plan a family game night one weekend a month. Card and board games are not only inexpensive but a great way to get to know each other better and create happy memories. Add some home-popped popcorn to the mix, and you will have a fun Friday night.
Spend a few hours this weekend baking with the family. This works best if everyone is involved in the planning and execution. Ask family members what treats they’d like to make and have the supplies on hand. Bake a couple different kinds of bars or cookies, a batch of homemade bread. This is a great way to save on snacks and desserts through the week, but the kitchen teaches children math, cooking, and organization skills.
Take a walk or bike ride. A pleasant stroll through a nearby park or a bike ride along the riverfront is great way to unwind from the pressures of the week. Our family loves to just stand outside the house to watch a summer sunset. Last night, my son pulled me outside to look at a beautiful setting crescent moon. The fresh air and starlit sky were a tonic to the soul.
Go on a treasure hunt with geocaching. Find secret treasures hidden around your community. All you need is the free app and a phone with GPS capability. You can even add treasures of your own to create more fun for others.
Be sure to have a monthly (or even weekly) date night. It’s important for couples to reconnect with each other, even when living within a budget. Bike rides and parades and picnics are fun for the whole family, but these activities are equally fun for just the two of you. After a date night with just the two of you, you’ll find that it’s easier to deal with the demands of work and family.
With a little creativity and maybe a bit of research, you can find lots of ways to enjoy each other’s company while staying within your budget. Have a fun and frugal weekend!