One of the easiest ways to loosen up your monthly budget is to save money with free entertainment. It can cost a lot to go out for a single night and have fun for a few hours. However, you may feel more satisfied in the long run if you use that cash more wisely. You can still have a lot of fun while also being frugal with your recreation choices.
When you’re spending too much dining out, going to movies, traveling for concerts and other types of entertainment, you can easily destroy progress with budgeting. However, you don’t have to give up enjoying yourself and relaxing to be able to save this money. I’ve learned how to have fun without spending any money or for extremely cheap prices. I’m going to share my tips and strategies with you in this guide.
Spending Money to Have Fun
I’m married with three kids. For the family to go out and do something fun, it’s completely normal to spend a minimum of $100. Going to see a movie at the theater with popcorn and snacks is easily $150. Almost $75 is spent for a fairly short game of mini-golf. If everyone wants to go play games and ride go-karts, I can easily drop $200-$300 in a few hours. Don’t even get me started on what it costs to take a real vacation loaded to fun, and I’m not even talking about something like going to Disney World.
The bottom line is that commercialized entertainment has become downright expensive. I make decent money, and I still think it costs too much. Someone making an average income of $40k per year or less simply won’t be able to afford to pay for fun very often without crippling their bank account and savings.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to have fun. I can even enjoy myself while spending a lot of money, especially with the family. However, this doesn’t mean that the spending isn’t wasteful. Even though I highly recommend slashing all or most of your entertainment spending, you can still have fun at the same time. That’s what I’m going to teach you in this post. How you can have fun by yourself, with friends or with your family without spending much money. This gives you the best of both worlds.
When you can eliminate most of your wasteful entertainment spending, you’ll simply free up your budget. This gives you more options with your life. You could afford to spend more on your house each month, buy a new car, or you could just save the extra cash in a retirement fund.
If you’re unable to get a raise at your job to make more money, cutting your expenses is the easiest way you can free up some cash each month. This should be your #1 financial priority if you’re currently living paycheck to paycheck. You must build up some kind of emergency savings at the very least to break free from that paycheck cycle. Once you can achieve this, it opens up a whole world of possibilities for your finances.
Think about what you want to achieve with your financial goals in the next 5 or 10 years. Also consider your long-term goals for retirement. Are you on track to reach these goals with your current budget? If you’re not, now is the best time to take action. In my opinion, one of the best places to begin is with entertainment spending. It’s easy to lose track of how much you’re spending to have fun each month, but you’d probably be surprised at the total if you went through your past transactions and made a tally.
Fun at Home
The only true way to have fun without spending a penny is to stay at home or at least base your fun from home. You could take a walk or even ride your bike someone where nearby to have fun without spending anything. However, if you have to get in your car to take a drive, you’ll still be using gasoline that costs money. Invite friends over to your house to spend time with you and have fun there. It’ll help all of you save money.
Sometimes you may need to spend some upfront money to have fun at home, but this can be much cheaper long-term when you compare it to other entertainment options away from the house. For example, a PS5 for $500 may seem expensive, but you could technically save thousands with that instead of going out to a dance club or bar once a week. The idea behind this saving strategy is to spend less over time by giving yourself other options.
With a family, there are a ton of games you buy to play at home with kids. You can even explore outdoor entertainment options at home, depending on the personal preferences of those in your family. Instead of taking your kids to Sky Zone once a month, buying them a trampoline at home could be much cheaper and pay for itself in less than a year. Plus, those things are around to use on a daily basis when you buy them, so you’re not limited to having fun one or two days each week.
Explore Your City
Personally, I would rather spend $10 in gasoline to have fun for an entire day instead of blowing hundreds of dollars for a few hours at a commercial entertainment venue. I do this by exploring and utilizing where I live to have fun. There are a lot of parks and other places you can go walking in your city that won’t cost you anything more than what you’ll spend to travel there and back.
For some people, the city they live in can offer much more in terms of free entertainment options. I used to live in South Carolina near the mountains. There were parks and hiking trails, but I often felt my options were rather limited there. I moved to Southwest Florida a few years ago and love my free fun choices now. The beach and the ocean open up a ton of extra possibilities, especially for me because I love the water. Simply being around water is relaxing for me, so I enjoy talk a walk on the beach, collecting shells and shark teeth, kayaking in the mangrove forests, and bridge fishing at night.
I didn’t move to Florida for the fun, but it was certainly a nice extra perk. It was actually one of my businesses that caused my move here, since I grow and sell tropical plants. However, I could see it being worthwhile to make a move for the sake of free or cheap entertainment. If you currently find yourself bored with the city you live in and love the ocean, moving to the beach could give you this same treasure trove of recreation freedom.
The beach and Florida is just one possibility though. Not everyone loves the water. Some people would prefer to live near the mountains and enjoy the recreation options there better. It’s really all about what you love to do. Try to find it in your own city and you may never need to spend money with commercialized entertainment again.
Free Local Events
Most cities and counties have local events taking place each month. In busier cities, there can even be multiple things happening every day. A lot of these events will be completely free to attend, although you may need to resist spending money with vendors there.
Search for a website for your local municipalities. They’ll often have a calendar of events posted that is continually updated over time. Just bookmark those pages and keep an eye on them to find free or very cheap things to do for fun in your local area.
There will be a lot of holiday themed events at those times of the year. Instead of spending money to host a Christmas party at your house for your family, you can all gather at a local city event for the holidays instead. Concerts are another type of event that has become rather common to have for free on these city calendars. They won’t be big name bands, but it can still be a lot of fun to go out with some friends for some live music without paying $100 for a ticket.
Please note that I’m not recommending that you become the world’s cheapest person when it comes to entertainment. There are certainly times when it makes sense to make exceptions and spend money in wasteful ways just to have fun. You don’t want to miss out on certain things in life and being social is definitely one of them. If you and girlfriends go out for a drink once a month and you really enjoy it, don’t cut that expense and experience from your life. However, you can make cuts to your entertainment spending in other areas so you don’t feel guilty about doing the few things you really love.