How to Reduce Your Entertainment Expenses and Still Have Fun
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Did you know on average Americans spend over $250 on entertainment each month?
If you’re looking to save money, reducing your entertainment expenses is a great place to start.
Here are some easy ways you can cut your entertainment costs to save more money.
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Cut Cable (or Satellite)
Cutting the cord used to be a sort of rebellious fad, but it’s almost become the norm now.
If you’re still paying for cable or satellite you could be throwing hundreds of dollars away each year.
Consider what channels you actually watch and whether even those are necessary. Then price out the cost to replace them.
By combining a few cheaper services like Netflix and Amazon Prime you could save a ton of money.
But be careful not to replace your cable with so many extra services you’re actually paying more.
If you love your cable or satellite provider, give them a chance to negotiate before you cancel. You may be able to get a great deal for being a loyal customer or if you’re willing to bundle services.
Cancel or Share Memberships
When I was in college I remember going to see Charlie’s Angels with a friend and being so hyped up on girl-power and motivated to kick a$$ we walked to the Crunch gym next-door and signed up on the spot.
I don’t remember how much that membership cost, but I do remember losing my motivation to use it long before it expired.
If you’ve got a forgotten gym membership card taking up valuable real estate in your wallet, it may be time to cancel.
Also, look into any personal or professional organizations you’ve joined over the years and evaluate if they’re still necessary or worth it.
For memberships you do find value in, see if you can reduce the cost by sharing them with someone. For example, Amazon Prime and Costco allow you to share your membership with other people in your household (like roommates or extended family).
Cancel Unused Subscriptions
Do you know how many subscriptions you have and how much you’re paying for them?
Magazines, newspapers (digital & print), games, apps, software, and mystery boxes are just a few of the subscription expenses I’ve paid for over the years.
Subscriptions can be especially deceptive since they tend to be reasonably priced.
But those costs can quickly add up as you continue to add more to the mix.
The subscription model itself doesn’t make something a bad buy; you’ll just want to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth from it. A service like Trim can help you find subscriptions you might have forgotten about.
Stop Impulsive Shopping
Shopping may not be the first thing that pops to your mind when you think of entertainment, but how often have you absentmindedly clicked through email coupons or Amazon just “browsing” and ended up with a package at your door 2 days later?
Bored browsing or e-window shopping is a habit that can easily spiral out of control and leave you wondering where your money went.
To take control of impulsive spending, make a new habit of adding items to a wishlist instead of the cart.
Give yourself permission to buy whatever’s on your wishlist, but only after some predetermined amount of time.
Forcing yourself to wait even 24 hours can give you the room you need to evaluate the purchase and determine if it’s something you’ll really value.
Don’t Buy Books
Books are a fantastic resource for both gaining knowledge and entertainment, but they can also be a source of impulsive spending for some of us.
Next time you feel tempted to grab the latest copy from your favorite author or line your shelf with yet another recommendation, check your local library first.
Not only will you save money, but you’ll be more likely to read it when you know you have a set timeframe.
Also, If you’re like me and prefer to read on a Kindle or iPad you can still take advantage of your library’s offerings via their e-book lending platforms. Just ask your librarian or check out your local library’s website for more information.
You can use this handy Chrome extension as you browse to automatically check if the book you’re looking at is available at your local library.
This won’t apply to everyone, and admittedly there are some who may turn this into a lucrative hobby, but for the bulk of us gambling is a surefire way to lose money.
Some people approach gambling as a form of entertainment and consider the money they gamble as “spent.”
But it’s still something you should consider weighing up against your other priorities when determining your budget.
If you’re a regular consumer of lottery tickets I know it may seem a small expense, so instead of throwing away your losing tickets, start stacking them up.
Then add up the cost at the end of the month or year to determine if that’s an expense that fits in with your priorities.
Stop Collecting Stuff You Don’t Need
Collecting by its nature is going to cause you to accumulate more stuff.
If your collection offers you value (either monetary or sentimental), maybe it’s worth it.
But if you find yourself collecting random things just because they’re cute or you may need them someday, you’re probably throwing away your money.
As a recovering kitchen gadget hoarder I understand the “need” to add to your collection. Especially when those Bed Bath and Beyond coupons come in the mail.
A good way to gauge whether you really need something or you just want something is to ask yourself: “If someone offered this to me in one hand or the cash equivalent in another, which would I take?”
Find Cheap Alternatives to Concerts, Movies, and Other Events
Seeing your favorite band in concert may be an expense you’re happy to pay.
But if you regularly find yourself shelling out for tickets to every show in town, you might want to check with your local library to see if there are some cheap or free events you can sprinkle in.
Many library’s also have special discounts or passes that can get you in to the same shows without blowing your budget.
Watch How Much You Spend on Birthdays
It can be tempting to go all out for our loved ones on their birthdays. Especially when it comes to our kids.
But what you think will be a
Hosted parties can be outrageously expensive depending where you have them and how many people you invite.
Even if you’re brave enough to host a herd of kids in your home, the cost of food, presents, cake, and gift bags may still surprise you.
Make sure you’re budgeting for all aspects of the birthday celebration and not just the cost of presents.
Take Advantage of Parks & Recreation Centers
If you’re looking for activities to do that won’t break the bank, check out your local parks and rec.
Many rec centers will have options like playgrounds, skateparks, basketball and tennis courts, as well as a variety of community classes offered at reasonable prices.
Also, if you’re the adventurous, outdoorsy type, check out any nearby parks that offer hiking, camping and picnic grounds, or rock climbing.
Stop Eating Out
The average consumer spends over $280 per month on eating outside the home. That’s more than we spend on all other entertainment combined!
I’ve written before about how to save on food costs, but it bears repeating.
You can make massive savings gains by reducing the amount you eat out.
I know it’s a nice release from the responsibilities we deal with each day to have someone else handle the meal for a change. But it’s also expensive.
Not only do we tend to underestimate what we spend on this area, we also underestimate how often we spend.
Whether it’s fast food, delivery or fine dining, eating out can quickly drain your budget.
Take a look back through last month’s spending and see how much you actually spent eating out. Then make a plan to rein it in.
We all need some form of entertainment to help us relax but it’s easier to relax when you’re not breaking the budget in the process.
By reducing or eliminating the expenses above and prioritizing the ones you value, you’ll be able to reduce your entertainment expenses, save money and still have fun.
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