Your entertainment budget is completely optional, setting it apart from most other spending categories. Although eliminating it completely would compromise your quality of life, you can easily cut it back and have a great time doing so. We’ve suggested 15 popular ideas that will help you do just that.
Barnes and Noble’s prices are certainly not economical, but you can easily find several sources of cheap or free books. You can check out books at your local library for free as long as you don’t incur any late fees.
You can also find very inexpensive books at thrift stores, yard sales, used bookstores and yard sales. Amazon also has many inexpensive used books and free eBooks.
Visit a Park
Admission to local municipal parks and state parks is typically free, and admission fees for national parks are very inexpensive. You can take your children to the playground at local parks, or enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, bird watching and fishing at state and national parks.
This is a great opportunity to get some exercise and spend time with friends and family.
Go to the Zoo
Admission to most zoos is very inexpensive, and many even have free or $1 admission days, especially in winter months.
Parents and kids alike can have a lot of fun at the zoo while keeping the entertainment budget well under $30 in most cases. Just make sure to bring your own meals or eat afterwards, and forego the gift shop.
Join a Club
You can find clubs and meetings for almost any interest or hobby at Meet Up. Joining the club is usually free, and typically any materials required (i.e. books for a book club) are very inexpensive.
This is a great way to make new friends who have the same interests as you without overspending.
Volunteer for something that you find fun and interesting, such as an animal shelter. This is fulfilling, free and can even be added to your résumé or college application.
Think of what activities or organizations you may be interested in, and start contacting agencies to see if they’re currently taking volunteers.
Throw a Spa Party
If you happen to be a girly girl, you can have a blast throwing a spa party. Invite your friends over, make a few cocktails and treat yourselves to facials, manicures and pedicures.
You can get cheap products on Amazon, and save even more if everyone pitches in. This is a great way to reconnect with friends and relax on a budget.
Find Cheap or Free Movies
Going to a conventional theater in the evening hours is an expensive endeavor to say the least. However, there are plenty of ways to find very inexpensive or even free movies at public gatherings or to watch at home.
Attend Live Entertainment Events
Local musicians, comedians and other entertainers often hold free or very cheap events to generate public interest in their groups.
This is a great time, and could even be a way of seeing a budding star before he or she is famous. For example, Lady Gaga got her start by doing $5 shows in New York City.
Visit a Museum
Many museums offer free admission, and others have very cheap admission or even have free admission days from time to time. Look up local museums in their area, see if they charge admission, and if so, find out when any free or discount promotions will be held.
Museums can be a lot of fun to visit, and even provide a great educational experience for children.
Write a Letter
Electronic communication has made letter writing largely a thing of the past. However, there’s something special about receiving a card or note from a loved one. Older relatives may particularly appreciate a note from a younger family member.
You can buy some cheap stationary, or just use plain notebook paper.
Find Free Computer Games
If you have decent computer and high-speed internet connection, you can take advantage of hundreds of free flash games available online. You can find free games and other entertainment at Flash Games 24/7, Ebaums World, Addicting Games and many others.
These games can provide hours of free entertainment.
Just be sure not to let your loved ones and obligations languish in the meantime.
Visit an Animal Shelter
If you love animals, you’re sure to enjoy visiting an animal shelter and helping to walk homeless pets or teach them basic obedience to make them more adoptable. This is rewarding, is a great chance for exercise, and may even help you meet some new friends.
If you become attached to one of the animals, make sure that you can afford and care for a new pet before adopting.
Go on a Picnic
Going on a picnic is a great way to enjoy a special meal with friends and family without adding to your food bill. Pack up an inexpensive lunch, and head to your favorite local park.
This is a great way to get a little fresh air and reconnect with yoru loved ones.
Baking cookies, cakes or other confections is a great time, and the materials for most recipes are very inexpensive. Find some free recipes on Allrecipes.com and cook up some delicious fun with your children or other loved ones.
Go to Garage Sales
Garage sales are like a cheap or even free treasure hunt. Check your local paper or Craigslist for garage sales and pay a visit to nearby sales. It’s fun to find the odd diamond in the rough, and can potentially save money on other expenditures. However, avoid the temptations to take home things that you don’t need or to overspend.
With these ideas, you can save hundreds of dollars on your entertainment budget, and spend time with your loved ones. Always keep your eyes open for cheap entertainment events, and enjoy life on the cheap.