Welcome to this week’s edition of Thrifty Living 2012. This week we’re focusing on saving money on entertainment. Not that we ever spent scads of money on entertainment, but we have definitely cut back. We think once, twice and thrice before we spend much needed money on entertainment. We both work in the arts, so even though it’s work, we do get a fair amount of exposure to theater that we wouldn’t get otherwise.
Here’s how we handle it in our house:
1. We don’t go to the movies. Truly. And we love movies. But the cost involved with two people going to see a first-run film are, to me, ridiculous. This is from a girl who remembers going to matinees as a child for a quarter. We also find that audiences in a movie theater can be noisy and sometimes downright rude. Don can’t stand any talking during a film. Neither of us can abide cell phones or texting. And sometimes audiences act as if they are home in front of the television and not in public. So….we wait. We simply wait until the movie is available on DVD or Pay Per View. Pay Per View on our cable system is $4.99. That’s much cheaper than the cost of $18.00 or more for two people to go to the movies. We also rent through Netflix. We just watched Midnight in Paris last night. And Turner Classic Movies is part of our cable package and shows the best movies ever. We pay a bit more for cable because it provides the vast majority of our entertainment.
2. We rarely eat out. Oh, we sometimes grab something when we’re out and about and need to eat, but basically? We eat at home. I’ve had to re-train Don on this very thing. He is an actor who worked on the road for a long time, so his instinct when he is out and about is to order something to go. Those little amounts quickly add up. Why bother doing that when we have perfectly good fresh food in our kitchen? He’s much better about it now and is, in fact, a really good cook. A big treat for us is ordering a pizza.
3. We don’t take vacations. We’d love to, don’t get me wrong. But money is tight and vacations are simply something we can’t validate at the moment. My work sometimes takes me on the road and through discovering a new place, I get a mini-vacation. Same thing for Don. He worked on a film a couple of years ago that shot in New Orleans, so he got a mini-vacation. But the trips are paid for by our employers. I dream of a trip together to England and Paris. Some day.
4. I use the library. This is the single biggest change I have made in my entertainment costs. I am a book lover. I love to buy books. Hardcover, paperback, used, new. I love, love, love books. For most of my life, my favorite thing to do has been to hang out in a bookstore (and a record store when they sold records) and pick out 2 or 3 or 4 books to buy.
I can’t do that anymore. So I’ve started using my local library. It’s a very small branch, but it’s part of a larger library system. I can go on my computer, search for a book I want to read, get in the queue, and when it arrives, pick it up from my local branch. I read all of the Lee Child series last summer when I was recuperating from surgery. All ordered through my library.
Occasionally, I will save my pennies for a certain book. Or, I’ll download it to my Nook because Nook copies are generally less expensive. But I haven’t used my Nook since I was in Wisconsin last summer because I’d rather hold a real book in my hands. I also review books on this blog, so I sometimes receive review copies.
5. I rarely buy magazines anymore. I used to buy scads of magazines every month. Many of my favorites are no longer being published. And I am more and more dissatisfied with the content of most shelter magazines. I can’t see paying over five or six dollars for a magazine that I’m going to toss in a recycling pile. Let’s face it – there is so much that is magazine-worthy in blogland so this particular sacrifice ends up being pretty easy to make. Here’s what I do. If I am considering buying a magazine, I scan it thoroughly in the store before I buy. Nine times out of ten, I end up putting it back. And I’ve saved myself some money.
For me, the best entertainment is watching my two silly dogs, reading a book from the library, maybe doing a little creative crafting and watching a great old black and white movie on TCM. And laughing with my husband. See? It doesn’t have to cost much at all.
P.S. The Etsy shop is open!