How to Maximize Your Entertainment Fund

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The following is a guest post from Wayne at Young Family Finance. He writes to educate young families on the financial challenges of life, like paying your bills on time or choosing between daycare or stay at home parenting.

Have you ever felt bad about spending so much money going to the movies? Should you feel guilty about spending so much money on a date with your significant other? If you are aren’t making a lot of money, going to the movies can be a huge financial burden. What if there were better ways to enjoy the full entertainment options without breaking the bank?

Our Old Way of Saving on Entertainment

My wife and I have always tried to be economical with our money. We have tried to limit our regular expenses so that we can afford to do nice things every year for our anniversary. This type of mentality worked pretty well. We set our limit based on how much we wanted to spend each month.  My wife wasn’t making much money at the time, so this often meant that we were limiting our entertainment fund to $25 per month. I am sure at first glance, you would say that this doesn’t allow for much fun… and you’re right! We were able to go to a movie about once a month. If we tried to watch a 3D movie, we would often break our limit (but only by a few bucks, so we let it slide). To compensate, we would play a lot of board games, hang out with friends, etc.

Our New Way of Saving on Entertainment

The problem with our old way of saving money is that it wasn’t getting us the ‘most bang for our buck’ as they say. In other words, we were wasting our entire entertainment fund on one night. Actually, on just a couple of hours. Because we felt like we had to go to the movies, we blew our entire monthly budget on one night.

Instead of going to the movies once a month, my wife and I now do other things. Even though we have more income, we still don’t spend as much as we did when we were going to the movies once a month. We have learned other ways to replace the movie-going experience. Here are some cheap replacements for going to the movies:

  • Netflix – We had a netflix plan for some time. This allowed us unlimited movies for half of the price of both of us going to the movies.
  • Redbox – We also tried redbox because we realized that we weren’t watching “unlimited” movies and it would be more cost-effective to pay $1 per movie than $11 (or now $16) for the month.
  • Public Library – Our last and greatest find was our public library’s HUGE collection of DVD’s. The best part about this is that it is free. All it takes is a 5-10 minute walk to pick up a DVD. Cha-Ching!

The best part about finding cheap ways to watch movies is that we are able to spend our entertainment fund on other activities. We are able to maximize our entertainment money and spread out the enjoyment throughout the month – not just one night. Why waste your entire budget on one night? For us, it makes more sense to enjoy our budget throughout the month instead of trying to keep up with those who go to the movies.

What do you do to maximize parts of your budget?

Money Save Money

AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

26 Comments

  1. My wife and I canceled our Netflix because we kept falling asleep on the movie. 3 months later we were still seeing the same red envelope. We weren’t budgeting in our sleep patterns. However, tonight I am going to see Jersey Boys… part of a birthday gift for me.

  2. I use coupons to get the most bang for my buck with enterainment. Maybe it is a great deal through Groupon, or maybe my wife and I find deals through the Entertainment Book and things like that.

    • That’s a great way to do it too! Sometimes people can go overboard with sites like groupon, but if you can control your spending like I can most of the time, more power to you.

  3. My wife and I have not been to an actual movie theater in over 3 years. 1, I don’t like paying the ridiculous price for movie tickets, 2, I don’t like the seats, and especially the armrests, and 3, you can’t pause the movie when you inevitably have to use the restroom. Redbox it is for me and my family!

    • haha – Yes, I couldn’t agree more, especially number 3. I usually don’t drink anything just to avoid the awkward situation.

  4. I agree with you! My husband and I do the same thing! We ask for movie tickets for Christmas and birthdays and will use those if there is a “must see movie” we want to see in theaters. We actually gave up cable TV and just have Netflix watch instantly (we don’t even have the dvd plan so we only spent $8 a month on tv and movies) We used to rent movies for free at the public library, but because of where we live it would cost us more in gas to get there than to rent one! Hulu can also benefit those that want to keep up to date in more recent shows (well, a week behind). Hulu Plus in my opinion though is not worth it (I had it for 4 months). I spend way less on technology than I did 5 years ago, thanks to technology!

  5. I get movie tickets from work sometimes and use those. Going to the movies and paying full price makes me angry.

  6. The only time we go to a movie theatre is on Christmas Day. We have dinner at home and take whoever of the kids is here. I pick up movies at the Library…you are allowed up to 15 at one time! If I want something more recent, it’s Redbox as we are walking out of Meijer. Redbox and Blockbuster Express are perfect when we travel, as we often don’t have TV hookup since we stay in State Parks or National Parks. They are always the least expensive.

  7. I buy discount movie tickets (approx. 50% off) and go with friends about once a month. We would go more often, but there are not enough good movies to see. Having lunch at the beach (Malibu), buying an inexpensive lunch at a grocery near the Malibu Colony. I find it ironic that some of the best and least expensive lunches are at these places in the middle of a wealthy neighborhood.

  8. It is not often for I and my hobby to go out for a movie and it shocked me the way movie ticket prices have increased. I believe in being practical and I know we can still enjoy movies without spending that much. This is the first time I heard about your suggestions and I would definitely give the three of them a try.

  9. We love movies and it is fortunate that we prefer to watch them at home. It is great to know that there are even better ways to save money. I just try making sure that our movie experience is interesting by getting a high quality copy.

    • Yes, with the quality that rentals offer now, it’s amazing how enjoyable it can be at home. Hopefully it doesn’t require you spending thousands of dollars on a tv though.

  10. Excellent tips. I don’t care much for entertainment but rather spend the money doing outdoor activities or group sports…usually even cheaper.

  11. My entertainment budget for my family is quite a bit higher. However, we decided that we’d try and do one activity a week. Then we try and find activities and ways to make those activities more frugal. The more frugal we are, the more activities we’ll tack on.

    Usually we’ll take advantage of free options and upgrade with small expenses to make it a little more unique. Like buy a pizza and eat it in the park. Or split a banana split after walking down by the canal.

  12. Netflix in Canada is not great so we download movies from other sources. It isn’t as cheap as we would like but we only have so many options up here. The good thing is we don’t have a lot time to watch movies so we don’t spend too much. We tend to do other things for entertainment like sports, exhibitions, and attractions.

  13. Ironically, we had this when we bought our van. The only difference was we had sold our other one a week earlier and really did need something. We should have bought a similar one though rather than the gas guzzler we now have! 🙂

  14. The budgeting is the key, I believe.

    I published out family budget over last 4 years. How do we do it – trying to keep the same. It is not always happens but eery little helps on our way to financial independence.

    We are saving percentage of our income, for example 10% goes towards it (this is includes vacation expenses). Historically this has been about 13-15% of all the expenses.

    For us it is not so much about seeing movie or trying new food but also experiences associated with it – see the people, have opportunity to be together, as the community you could hardly create it at home!

  15. Wow! These are indeed great ways to save on your entertainment budget Derek. These concepts actually helps you save money without having you give up much on the entertainment side. My family and I usually just stays home to watch movies just like what you suggested so we can save up for our plans in going to Disney once a year. Good thing I was also able to find Disney vacation pakages which helps us save money. Thanks for this great recommendation!


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