There’s more content to consume and experiences to have than there ever have been before. It’s also never been easier to throw away your hard-earned money.
Impulse spending and impatience when shopping can be tough habits to kick, but you’ll find that if you put a little thought and research into where your entertainment dollars are going you’ll get a lot more out of them, multiplied by the satisfaction of saving your money and being smart about how you relax, have fun and unwind.
Here are 6 ways to be smart about your entertainment expenses.
1. Subscription Models Reign Supreme
It’s easier than ever to get your hands on all the content you could ever consume without spending the time and money to find each item individually through all-you-can-eat subscription services.
Here are several examples:
- You could get Spotify for endless music streaming
- Netflix to binge watch your shows
- GameFly for all the gaming action you crave
- Audible for audiobooks on the drive to work and
- Kindle Unlimited to keep up with your favorite authors.
After subscribing to each of those services you’d still only be spending around 70 bucks a month.
That adds up to a lot more content than you could ever dream of consuming – and it’s all on demand and commercial-free. More importantly it’s cheaper than paying for cable TV (cut that cord immediately).
2. Donate Directly If You Can’t Afford To Pay
Want to support your favorite creators, but can’t really afford to buy all their new stuff? There are plenty of ways to show your support and help them keep creating without breaking the bank. Many bands and other kinds of artists will take donations on their websites directly, which means they don’t have to give a cut of your money to any intermediaries, and other sites often handle the process with pay-what-you-can donation models for content.
If you’re looking for cheaper games, look out for Humble Bundles where you can even donate all the cost to charity, or browse Bandcamp to discover some great talent that you can support independently. Don’t forget to check out Patreon — growing every day, the service will allow you to commit to a periodic donation to a creator in exchange for exclusive benefits.
3. Early Birds Get The Worm
Fan of all things shiny and new? Try scouting around places like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to find the hottest new products by the latest makers and creators in all fields: you might be able to pledge early and get incredible discounts on tomorrow’s biggest thing. You can be sure that early backers for the Pebble and Coolest paid a lot less than latecomers.
There’s definitely some degree of risk involved with unfinished products and prototypes, but the crowd-funding sites do a good job of controlling things. Just remember that Kickstarter will refund your money if the project’s goals aren’t met, but Indiegogo lets them keep it.
4. Cook And Mix Cocktails At Home
If you love good food and drink, it can be easy to get tempted into over-spending on restaurants and bars. Cut down your costs without sacrificing the fun by making more at home. Don’t immediately start dreading the thought of what to make either — there are plenty of ways to get help with both of those. Search for recipes online, or subscribe to services like Emeals for weekly meal planning to take the pain out of grocery shopping.
A mixology fan? Stock your bar with some essential liquors and subscribe to Cocktail Crate for fun, different mixers to make your home bar cocktails a special event every time. You’ll get to save money compared to going out, and enjoy the comfort of great food and cocktails with a movie — and no drive home.
5. Discover Nearby Treasures
It’s easy to be tempted by the glamor of far-off lands or that must-see vacation spot everyone’s talking about, but more often than not people overlook their own region for shopping, getaways, sights to see and experiences to have.
Exploring your surroundings means something different for everyone — maybe you’ve got some great outdoor areas for (free!) fun and exercise nearby, if only parks, or perhaps downtown is more your speed, in which case you should try off-days early in the week for cheaper prices when going out.
If you’ve got holiday time coming up, consider a budget-friendly staycation instead of booking that flight — with all that content you’re accruing and those nearby sights to see, you’ve definitely got plenty to keep yourself busy. No time wasted on travel and packing either!
6. Promotions And Discounts
There are also great sites out there to help you find the products and experiences you love at discounted prices without much effort — keep up with Groupon for deals around you, search on RetailMeNot for coupons before buying things, look out for sales on Steam and Amazon to get massive savings during their time limited events.
All it takes is a couple of email subscriptions and alerts, after which the information will come to you. Keep your email inbox sorted with labels and you’ll never waste any time while you’re saving money.
At the end of the day, it’s all about personal finances
Personal finance, just like fitness, is about good habits as well as technique. If you’re not watching your cashflow you won’t be able to budget properly — or you’ll run out.
Just make sure you’re getting your priorities straight, doing your best to pay your expenses, pay off any debt, save 10% or more, and then budgeting your entertainment — in that order. Don’t make the mistake of living above your means.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend money on bigger things like flights or the latest technology — just be sure it’s coming from the right bucket in your finances. A little planning and a strategic approach to your fun will yield you a lot more bang for your buck, while helping you save up so you can keep enjoying all the things you love.
Got any favorite life-hacks for budgeting your entertainment or getting the best deals? Let us know!
This has been a guest post from Anum Yoon who is a personal finance blogger and writer. She created and maintains her personal finance blog Current on Currency. You can subscribe to her blog newsletter right here for her weekly updates.