In 2015, we’re putting extra emphasis on budgeting since it’s a must for financial success. Each month, we tackle a different category, and by year’s end, we’ll have one big resource for maximizing your entire budget.
The Entertainment portion of our budget is the one I feel least qualified to write about. And it’s not because we blow it every month. Rather, it’s kind of the opposite. Johnny and I are simple (read: boring) folk, so this is an area of our budget where we’ve never struggled. We make big “sacrifices” in Entertainment spending (or lack of), and it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice at all. So we’ll give our tips on how we don’t spend on entertainment. But then we need some help from you who go and do more so our readers can hear your best tips, too. Capiche?
One of the biggest deterrents to going out for a date is having to pay a babysitter. Suddenly our night out is twice the cost because we have children who need watching. But that doesn’t mean we get rid of our date nights altogether. No, no, no. My fondest memories the past few months of having two children are the ones when Johnny and I were out. Alone. You can’t really put a price on that rejuvenation that comes from a night out. But rather than ramp up our babysitting spending, we swap date nights with other couples who have kids our same age. We drop our kids at their house and have a few hours to ourselves, and then we do the same thing for them a few weeks later. And we save the paid babysitters for special occasions — anniversaries, birthdays, or “We have to go on a date tomorrow or I’m going to lose it!!!” nights.
If you have very young children like we do, perhaps you’ve felt frustrated by paying a babysitter to just sit in your home while your children sleep. Our kids go to bed so early that there’s no real babysitting that even happens. For later evening dates, we sometimes ask a willing friend or family member who doesn’t have children to simply sit at our home and watch a movie (sometimes with their boyfriend or girlfriend) while we’re out. In return, we grab them food or a treat while we’re gone.
Find free activities.
One of our favorite evening activities before we had kids was taking walks outside. It sounds lame, but we had so much fun just walking around (during the warmer months, of course), talking about whatever. It didn’t cost a penny, but we still got that quality alone time outside of our home.
Now that we have kids, evening walks don’t happen very often, but we still look for free or inexpensive things to do when we go out. Our outings on the weekends almost always include our daughters, and we usually find a free park, splash pad, or hike where we can be together. We once made the mistake of perusing the mall together as a family, and it took all our willpower to leave without buying a single item. So we avoid malls and other stores unless we have a list of specific items we need to buy.
Have a night in.
Johnny and I love our nights in. We have it down to a science almost, which makes it sound super boring, but for some reason, we get really excited for our date nights in. We fix a favorite meal to have after the girls are in bed (or do take out), and we settle down on our couch in front of the TV with a rented movie or an episode from whatever show we’re currently obsessed with. We also keep a stash of junk food — candy, chocolate, ice cream, popcorn, etc., and choose one of those items (or a few) to have with our movie. We were grocery shopping two nights ago, and as we were restocking our junk food stash, Johnny added Twinkies to the mix… so we’re that family now, the one with Twinkies in the cupboards.
We also love having friends over for board games or to watch college football. We have snacks and treats, and we all sit around and play games. It’s good, nerdy, competitive fun. And it’s free!
Nix the cable.
In case you missed it, at the beginning of the year Johnny and I found a way to save on the easiest form of entertainment known to man — we cut cable TV. And we’ve never looked back since. Any entertainment we seek from our TV, we find in Netflix and other streaming options (which we outlined in our comprehensive post on the subject). If you’re someone who likes to eat out or go to movies more than we do, canceling cable could be a great option for saving some money in your budget that could go toward other entertainment options.
And with that, we’ve exhausted all our tips and tricks we can think of for saving on entertainment! So we need to hear from all you exciting folks out there! How do you slash your entertainment spending while still having fun in order to maximize your budget?