Budgeting At-Home Entertainment Expenses
1. Purchase a cable alternative.
The first step to reducing at-home entertainment costs is ditching cable TV. Instead, choose an online streaming service. Subscribing to one of these companies can give you access to hundreds of movies, TV, and original content for usually lower cost per month. Review your most recent cable bills and find a streaming service with a lower monthly fee.
- Popular video streaming services include: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Acorn TV.
- If you’re attached to a certain channel, look for a service that allows you to stream specific channels online (like Sling TV, CBS All Access, HBO Now, or Select TV).
2. Listen to music via streaming services.
Instead of purchasing every song you listen to, try a music streaming service. Most services operate as an online library filled with songs that users can hear without downloading. Although these services often have an ad-free subscription for a low cost, many also offer free options.
- Try well-known streaming services like: Pandora, Apple Music, Soundcloud, Spotify, Slacker, and iHeartRadio.
- Test out a free trial before purchasing a subscription.
3. Acquire a library card.
Whether you’re a bookworm or a casual reader, a library card can save you hundreds on at-home entertainment. Books (paper, audio, or electronic), movies, magazines, newspapers, and music are all available for free or a minimal annual fee. Some libraries even rent out video games or hobby supplies (like cooking tools or board games).
- Libraries also offer free community events like children’s read-alongs, book clubs, personal development workshops, or holiday celebrations.
4. Rent video games instead of buying them.
You don’t have to shell out your paycheck to get the latest game release; opt for a game rental service to play at a reduced cost. This option is especially ideal if you tend not to replay games and want to avoid reselling for less than the game is worth.
- Some services (like Redbox) offer games for a minimal daily fee while others (like Gamefly) operate on a monthly subscription model like movie streaming services.
5. Split entertainment memberships with your loved ones.
Share the cost of a music, movie, or video game subscription with a friend or a roommate. If your immediate relatives are interested, some services offer family discounts at a reduced fee.
- Many services (like Netflix) allow users to add multiple users without spending more money.
Accessing Local Low-Budget Entertainment
1. Check out student, senior, or other discounts.
Many entertainment venues offer special offers for seniors, students, certain club members (like the AAA or AARP) and members of the military. Ask about discount options to see if you qualify for any options.
- Talk to your high school or university to learn about student deals offered by local retailers, movie theaters, attractions, or restaurants.
- Keep government-issued or student IDs on hand in case you need proof of identification.
2. Choose matinees over evening movies.
Going to movies at less-popular times (like Monday afternoons instead of Saturday nights) can save you as much as half the ticket’s cost. If you can wait, avoid seeing movies until they hit the discount theaters to save even more.
- Buy your tickets online to receive additional pricing deals or snack coupons.