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Does Saving Money Mean Eliminating Entertainment? – Guest Post

I’m very grateful to our guest poster this morning (see the byline below), because I’ve had little or no REM sleep all week and have been unable to do any real writing. I’m hoping that tonight will break the cycle–thanks Debbie for providing something in the meantime!

Everyone is trying to figure out how to save money and cut the monthly budget to get through the tough economy right now. It’s true that extras need to be cut back in order to keep the household afloat, but does that mean you need to eliminate entertainment in the name of living frugally?

Not at all! It just means you need to find ways to enjoy your recreation time without spending as much money as you might be used to spending. Here are three ideas you can try with your family to keep the fun while cutting the fat from your budget.

1. Cut the cable! Many families spend a fortune on their cable bill every month because they enjoy watching movies as a family. The problem is premium cable channels cost a fortune–and they don’t really provide as much variety as you like. Try eliminating the premium channels and go for another option.

[Mrs. Micah’s note: while we don’t get premium channels, Micah & I discovered that our local digital broadcast is better than our cable.]

Your local library is a great source of free movies. Many libraries allow you to check out several movies at a time and keep them for up to a week, all at no cost.

You can also join an online movie club for less than $10 a month and get the movies you most want to watch – including the newest releases – delivered right to your door through the mail. Some of these clubs even allow you to watch additional movies as instant downloads right on your computer. If you’re paying out for premium movie channels or spending money at the video stores, consider a program like this to save money on your family’s favorite movies.

While Hulu doesn’t offer many recent films, it’s been known to show classics and some rarely-seen films you couldn’t find at your video store and wouldn’t likely see on tv.

2. Get active! You can have a lot of fun together by organizing bike rides, football games, softball tournaments or other outdoor activities. Another fun outdoor activity that gets the whole family out having fun together (and costs virtually nothing) is geocaching. Geocaching involves searching for hidden “treasures” through the directions of a GPS. It’s incredibly popular all over the country – Google geocaching and your location and you’ll find out where to start your adventure. This is a great activity to do with the kids! In the winter, strap on the cross-country skis or snowshoes and travel across the frozen tundra as a family.

3. Is there a University near your home? University campuses are great sources of inexpensive entertainment. Most universities have bowling alleys, movie theatres, plays, as well as sporting events and other activities the public can participate in and enjoy at extremely affordable prices.

You can find a wide variety of activities to either play or watch without breaking the bank. Make sure you call ahead to find out about special hours, food vendors and other options to find the perfect outing for your family.

Just because you are saving money and trying to cut back on expenses, you don’t have to sacrifice entertainment. In fact, you just might find you are more creative in the things you try when you can’t fall back on the same old choices. You’ll get quality family time, have some fun and save money all at the same time.

Debbie Dragon is a freelance writer providing articles for, a site that helps its readers save money, with unique money saving tips and tricks for your busy lifestyle.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Miranda October 2, 2009 at 9:55 am

Great suggestions. There are a number of things you can do as a family to have a good time. We have Netflix, and watch TV shows on Hulu 🙂 We also like to play games together at home.
.-= Miranda´s last blog ..Wealth: It’s All Relative =-.

Craig October 2, 2009 at 11:38 am

For me a lot of time it does. I sacrifice my social life sometimes in order to save some money. But things like Netflix have helped a lot since now I don’t buy or rent DVDs.

RainyDaySaver October 2, 2009 at 11:47 pm

I’ve just discovered your blog — good stuff! =)

While I wholeheartedly agree about cutting the cable, my husband lives and breathes through TV and movies. Cutting the premium movie package would save us $30/month, but hubby really loves this package and uses it. Combined with his Netflix subscription, he gets all the movies he could possibly want. Since we don’t go out to the movie theater and he doesn’t have any other particular hobbies, I’m willing to give in on this particular point.
.-= RainyDaySaver´s last blog ..Optimal Grocery Shopping =-.

Lin October 4, 2009 at 8:55 pm

We’ve been working very hard at saving money and we’re doing quite well, especially since we’ve eliminated most of our entertainment expenses.

That’s not to say we don’t occasionally go out for dinner but we’re very selective about what restaurants we go to and how often because of how expensive it has become to eat out.

We considered going to a movie theater yesterday for a bit of entertainment fun, but as soon as we saw the cost of a movie ticket for adults is $9.50 plus drinks, popcorn etc, we decided to just rent a movie, pop our own popcorn and drink our own sodas and just stay home. Plus we saved money on gas by not going out too.
.-= Lin´s last blog ..Free Dental Care Clinics – How to Get Low Cost or Free Dental Treatment =-.

Chelle October 4, 2009 at 9:59 pm

It is true, I don’t think saving money = deprivation. It’s just about finding the things you enjoy and finding ways to do them for free or inexpensively.
.-= Chelle´s last blog ..The Meaning of Living Simply =-.

Credit Card Chaser October 5, 2009 at 2:59 pm

A great substitute for cable is to use NetFlix (and order TV series when they come out on DVD) or use a service like Boxee or Playon that lets you stream shows from Hulu and other places right to your TV.
.-= Credit Card Chaser´s last blog ..Stop Paying Full Price! (Use Your 1% – 5% Cash Back Credit Card) =-.

Peter October 7, 2009 at 1:42 am

Absolutely! Cutting down on spending doesn’t mean cutting down on fun. If you have kids, #2 suggestion is great. No better way for family bonding than going outdoors.

Aside from the above suggestions, family members could also find entertainment by doing crafts together. Especially great for the kids. Nothing could be more fun and meaningful than being in a project together, drawing each member’s artistic side and ingenuity. My Well Of wealth
.-= Peter´s last blog ..“Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose.” =-.

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