How to save money on entertainment

The average American spends over $200 per month on entertainment. (Source)

How does your entertainment spending compare?

What could you do with an extra $200 per month? Could you pay off your debt?

What if I told you, you could save money while also doing most of your normal entertainment activities?

Here’s how to do it.

Dial back services

Do you really need 1000 channels, and how often do you watch HBO and those other premium channels?

Lower your services as much as you can. Do your best to cut out as many unused channels as possible. And if you do watch HBO regularly, get HBO Now, and stream your shows.

Ask for a lower rate

If you think you are paying too much for cable TV, and you probably are, call them and ask if you can have a lower rate. They might have a new promotion you could take advantage of.

Be advised, however, because these promotions have a limit on how long they’ll be offered for, and once the term is over, your monthly bill will go through the roof!

If they don’t have any promotions, you could threaten to leave and go to a competing service provider. Odds are, they’ll lower your rate or provide additional services at your current price.

We tried both with our previous provider and they swiftly helped us lower our rate. We ended up leaving anyway due to the quality of service, but those techniques worked none-the-less.

Cut the cable

Let’s be real, you probably don’t need that cable or satellite TV service anymore.

Here’s a solid list of streaming services:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • HBO Now
  • Amazon Prime
  • SlingTV
  • CBS All Access

The best part is, the combination of the three streaming services above is still far less than your average monthly cable TV bill ($100). (Source)

Share memberships

There are numerous streaming/subscription services, like the three that I mentioned above. Consider sharing these services with members of your household.

There are instances of this getting abused, however. For example, I know a few people that share services like this, but they don’t live in the same house.

Not exactly the most moral thing to do, but they haven’t been caught yet.

Set a limit

In your monthly budget, create a line item labeled entertainment or fun money. Write down the amount you wish to spend in this category and don’t go over.

For more on budgeting, click here.

Go to the library

The library has thousands of entertainment options for you to check-out for FREE. Books, movies, music, and audiobooks.

This is a lifetime worth of entertainment. All of it is at your local library and all of it is free.

Sometimes they have guest speakers put on educational seminars and classes for kids. This is a great place for the whole family.

Also, there is so much valuable and useful material at the library that could be used to improve your understanding of a subject that interests you. This might even help your career!

Listen to podcasts

These are free! You can find educational ones and entertaining ones. It’ll bring you back to a time before TV. You just sit, relax, and listen.

I have a few money podcasts listed on the blog, here and here.

Go to rummage sales

More often than not, these rummage sales will have movies, books, and CDs for sale. This is an inexpensive way to pick up new movies and books.

Play board games

Board games are great. They are fun, they provide a wonderful family bonding experience, and they are super cheap. You can also find these at rummage sales.

Additionally, some board games can provide beneficial learning experiences for you and your children. Monopoly, for example, is a great game that teaches how saving and the accumulation of assets can benefit your finances.

Movies

Instead of going to your normal theater and paying $10 for a ticket. Go to a discount theater in the area, a drive-in theater, or go to a matinee showing.

  • Matinee showing is much less expensive than the prime-time show
  • The discount theater is much cheaper than a regular one. Our local discount theater costs just $2 per movie.
  • The drive-in theater is also less expensive than a regular theater, and you can bring your own refreshments. That’s where those normal theaters really get you.

Amateur sporting events

They may not be your favorite team, but watching the local amateur team is much less expensive than the professional team, and sometimes it can be even more fun!

Go to the museum

The museum is awesome! I love going with my wife and I’m super excited to bring our boy there. It can be a very entertaining and educational experience. By the way, the average price for a family of four is only $30 (depending on location).

Entertaining, educational, and great family time, can’t beat that.

Find local events

Odds are, your local municipality or another organization will have a show or a speaking engagement for little to no cost to the public.

Eventbrite always has a good list of local events. They break it down by date, category, and price.

Avoid ticket surcharge

We all know that when you buy tickets for an event online, the ticket itself isn’t terribly expensive, but then they tack on all their fees, which can make that ticket very expensive.

Call the venue or go to the venue and buy your ticket that way, you avoid those pesky surcharges. Also, if you buy the ticket at the venue and you’ve never been there before, you can get a good idea of travel time, traffic, and parking.

Spend time with nature

Go to a park, take a walk, or ride your bike. If it’s nice outside, this should be a natural thing to do anyhow.

It comes at no cost to you, besides the cost of gear if you are backpacking or bicycling, and it’s a great way to step away from the stresses of everyday life and is a great way to spend time as a family.

Credit card perks

If you are responsible with your credit cards (use it for purchases and pay in full every month) this could be a good opportunity to reward yourself.

Some credit cards come with perks:

  • Discounted hotels
  • Free flights
  • Discounted tickets to certain shows and venues.

Look at your credit card rewards and see if any of those apply to you.

Ask for discounts

If you are a member of the military (thank you!), a senior citizen, a student, or a child, you will probably get a discount for an event you are attending.

If you don’t fit one of the above demographics, or you do but they don’t provide discounts, ask for one. The worst thing they could say is no.

Go to happy hour

Happy hour is a time of day (usually 2-6pm or so) where food and drink specials are offered.

Google “Happy hour specials,” one comes up should be a solid list of restaurants to go to during happy hour.

Here’s what I pulled up in my area:

happy hour snip

Go to lunch

The lunch menu is usually much less expensive than the dinner menu. Sometimes, the lunch menu is offered until 4 pm.

Use coupons

There are various websites on the web dedicated to providing awesome coupons. One that we use regularly is Coupons.com, but another one designed for restaurants is Restaurant.com. You can find local specials, coupons, and gift cards.

Entertaining at home

Inviting guests to your home for a little get together is a great way to spend time. There’s far less noise for better conversation, and there are fewer distractions.

It’s also much cheaper. You can rent movies from Redbox, stream from Netflix, and you can prepare the food at home. You could also make it a potluck.

Have each person bring a different dish. The host will be very grateful because they don’t have to buy and prepare everything.

Volunteer

Last, but certainly, not least is volunteering. This isn’t entertainment in the traditional sense, but you are doing a lot of good by volunteering.

It occupies your time and you get to make a difference in your local community. Help at the food shelter, a local fundraiser, or some other place designed to aid those in need.

For noble causes to donate your time to, click here.

Conclusion

Entertainment can be pretty expensive if you go to dinner at a nice restaurant and then a show, but it doesn’t have to be.

By using some or all of these methods, you can reduce how much a fun day costs.

So readers, how do you save money on entertainment?

Published by

Financial Health and Wealth

I am a Financial Consultant and Blogger. I live in the Greater Milwaukee area. I am married with a six-month-old son. My goal with this blog is to educate people to better understand basic finances and to help save them money along the way

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