Saving on Entertainment Costs

Everyone needs a way to kick back and relax, but entertainment can get expensive. Between pricey tickets to movies and sporting events, specialty hobby equipment that costs a bundle, and entertainment services that may seem to charge more than they’re worth, it’s hard to have your fun, and your budget, too.

Fortunately, there are ways to save on entertainment costs. Here are a few creative tips to get you started.

Turn a hobby into income

Do you have a secret passion you can monetize? Maybe you’re sensational at sewing, or you have a unique talent for bottle-cap art, and people would pay for your creations. You can save on entertainment costs by selling your products on sites like Etsy. You’ll earn the cash you need to fund your hobby — and maybe some extra pocket change, too.

Buy season passes

If you have a favorite amusement park, zoo, trampoline park or another entertainment center, it may be worthwhile to invest in a season pass. These often cost as much as, or even less than, two one-day entrance tickets.

Give up cable

In 2021, there are so many fantastic alternatives to cable service, and at great prices. A video streaming service like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu can be a great replacement for cable. Some services, like Sling TV and HBO Max, will even allow you to stream a specific channel online.

Stream your music

Downloading from iTunes is rapidly going the way of the CD and cassette tape. Today, it’s all about streaming music services, which allow the user to listen to virtually any song, for a modest monthly subscription fee. Some popular options include Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Google Play Music, most of which cost an average of $10 a month.

Ask for a discount

Before paying for a hotel stay, amusement park ticket, or even a rental car, find out if you qualify for a discount. Lots of entertainment venues will offer discounts for older adults, students or members of AAA, AARP or the like.

Split entertainment memberships with family or friends

Share the cost of a music, movie or video game subscription with a friend or a roommate. Some services even allow you to add a user living at the same residence at no cost, so you can pay one price for a full service of something like Netflix for half the cost.

Take a virtual tour

Thanks to COVID-19, you can now get an up-close look at the most fascinating places in the world. From famous museums like the Guggenheim in New York City and Musée d’Orsay  in Paris, to safaris you can take from the comfort of your home at places like the  Houston Zoo and the San Diego Zoo, there’s no shortage of entertainment you can get for free.

Stay local

Keep your eyes and ears open for local festivals, sporting events and performances at no charge, or for just a nominal fee. You can get your entertainment fix at a fraction of the usual cost while supporting your community. (For now, these might be outdoor-only.)

Watch for happy hour

Lots of museums and recreation centers offer discounted entrance tickets during their slowest time of the week, or of the day. Plan your visit around “happy hour” for the most savings.

Volunteer at special events

Offer to volunteer at theater and music productions in exchange for free tickets. This can mean helping to usher people toward their seats, or assisting with setting up and breaking down the set before and after the show.

Purchase group deals online

Before taking a trip anywhere, check if you can get discounted tickets on sites like Groupon, LivingSocial  or TravelZoo. Why pay full price if you don’t have to?

Keeping yourself entertained doesn’t have to cost a bundle. Use our tips to find creative ways to cut back on entertainment costs without sacrificing any of the relaxation or the fun you need. It’s doable!

Your Turn: How do you save on entertainment costs? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

Learn More:
wikihow.com
foolproofme.org
nerdwallet.com

5 Reasons We Overspend (and How to Overcome Them)

We’ve all been there. Maybe it’s that I-gotta-have-it urge that overtakes us when we see a pair of designer jeans. Maybe it’s that shrug as we reach for the $6 cup of overrated coffee that says “I deserve this.” Or maybe it’s that helpless feeling as the end of the month draws near and we realize we’ve outspent our budget — again.

What makes us overspend? Let’s take a look at five common reasons and how we can overcome them.

1. To keep up with the Jones’s

Humans are naturally social creatures who want to blend in with their surroundings. When people who seem to be in the same financial bracket as we are can seemingly afford another pair of designer shoes for each outfit, we should be able to afford them, too, right?

The obvious flaw in this line of thinking is that nobody knows what’s really going on at the Jones’s’ house. Maybe Mrs. Jones’ expensive taste in shoes has landed the family deeply in debt and they are in danger of losing their home. Maybe her Great Aunt Bertha passed and left her a six-digit inheritance. Maybe all of her Louboutin’s are cheap knockoffs she bought online for $23 each.

Break the cycle: Learn to keep your eyes on your own wallet and to ignore how your friends or peers choose to spend their money. Develop a self-image that is independent of material possessions. Adapt this meme as your tagline when you feel that urge to overspend as a means to fit in: Let the Jones’s keep up with me!

2. We don’t have a budget

A recent survey shows that 65% of Americans don’t know how they spent their money last month.

When all of our spending is just a guessing game, it can be challenging not to overspend. We can easily assure ourselves that we can afford another dinner out, a new top and a new pair of boots — until the truth hits and we realize we’ve overspent again.

Break the cycle: Create a monthly budget covering all your needs and some of your wants. If you’d rather not track every dollar, you can give yourself a general budget for all non-fixed expenses and then spend it as you please.

3. To get a high

Retail therapy is a real thing. Research shows that shopping and spending money releases feel-good dopamine in the brain, just like recreational drugs. David Sulzer, professor of neuro-biology at Columbia, explains that the neurotransmitter surges when people anticipate a reward — like a shopper anticipating a new purchase. And when we encounter an unforeseen benefit, like a discount, the dopamine really spikes!

“This chemical response is commonly called ‘shopper’s high,’” Sulzer says, likening it to the rush that can come with drinking or gambling.

This explains the addictive quality of shopping that can be hard to fight. When life gets stressful, or we just want to feel good, we hit the shops or start adding items to our virtual carts.

Break the cycle: There’s nothing wrong with spending money to feel good, so long as you don’t go overboard. It’s best to put some “just for fun” money into your budget so you can make that feel-good purchase when you need to without letting it put you into debt.

4. Misuse of credit

Credit cards offer incredible convenience and an easy way to track spending. But they also offer a gateway into deep debt. Research shows that consumers spend up to 18% more when they pay with plastic over cash.

Break the cycle: When shopping in places where you tend to overspend, use cash and you’ll be forced to stick to your budget. You can also use a debit card with a careful budget so you know how much you want to spend.

5. Lack of self-discipline

Sometimes, there’s no deep reason or poor money management behind our spending. Sometimes, we just can’t tell ourselves — or our children — “no.”

Scott Butler, a retirement income planner at the wealth management firm Klauenberg Retirement Solutions in Laurel, MD, explains that it takes tremendous willpower to say no to something we want now.

“One of the big reasons people overspend is that they don’t think ahead,” Butler says.

Too often, we allow our immediate needs to take precedence over more important needs that won’t be relevant for years — such as a retirement fund or our children’s college education. We simply lack the discipline to not exchange immediate gratification for long-term benefit.

Break the cycle: Define your long-term financial goals. Create a plan for reaching these goals with small and measurable steps. While working through your plan, assign an amount to save each month. Before giving in to an impulse purchase or an indulgence you can’t really afford, remind yourself of your long-term goals and how much longer your time-frame will need to be if you spend this money now.

Your Turn: What makes you overspend? Tell us about it in the comments.

Learn More:
thebalance.com
thedollarstretcher.com
hermoney.com
money.usnews.com
elle.com

6 New Year’s Resolutions For A Financially Improved You

syellow sticky note on computer keyboard next to planner that reads," New years' Resolutions 2019"Here are our top six resolutions you can commit to that will really add up over the course of a year.

  1. Increase your savings. Even if it’s only by 5%, every little bit adds up.
  2. Cut out one impulse purchase a week.
  3. Trim your electricity bills by making sure your appliances are all running efficiently and conserving as much energy as possible.
  4. Increase your marketability by learning new skills or broadening your knowledge in your chosen field.
  5. Pay down your debt by making it a priority.
  6. Spend less on groceries. Do whatever it takes to make it happen: coupon more, cash in on rebates, and shop the sales.

Your Turn:
Have you made any significant financial resolutions over the past year? Share them with us in the comments!