I’m not going to be much help in the social arena.  For me, going out involves an active activity, a movie, or dinner.  I’m happiest with a stay-at-home night.  But on those occasions when you want entertainment and you don’t want to spend a lot of money (or any at all), there are ways to cut down the costs.

Movies

  • First and foremost, check your library!  Many libraries have a movie rental section.  Yes, some of them are older, but some libraries do a good job of keeping up on Oscar winners and such.
  • Look for free movies on television if you’re paying for cable or satellite (although I definitely don’t recommend it).  Yes, you might have to put up with a commercial or some minor editing, but if you just want something to watch, it’s free.
  • Try one of the online services.  Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime all offer streaming movies.  I’m sure there are plenty more, but these three come out to about $8 a month– of less than the price of a matinee ticket at some theatres.  Hulu even has some for free.
  • Look for free movie offers (I do the Disney movie deal once every two years or so).  I also make sure I do the digital version of movies when I can (VuDu or Ultraviolet).
  • Renting from Blockbuster, Netflix, or Redbox will still be cheaper than going to the movies.  Save the theatre experience for movies you either can’t wait for or that are greatly enhanced by having the large screen and surround sound.  (If you have these at home, you really should get the most out of what you paid for.)
  • As an “out there” option, sign up to be a mystery shopper and get to watch movies for free.  Don’t sign up with just anyone; go to Volition’s mystery shop database to find reputable companies to sign up with.

Music

  • Make use of your radio.  There are still plenty of radio stations out there that you can listen to absolutely free.
  • Try Pandora, Spotify, or half-a-dozen other streaming radio stations.  You can listen for free with ads or pay to remove them.
  • Get free music from iTunes (see your local Starbucks or Jamba Juice or just do a search on the site), Google Play, or Free Indie.  Here’s another way your library can be useful; see if they offer Freegal.  Download three free songs each week.  Period.  No strings.  The selection is decent.
  • Get free Amazon MP3 downloads by filling out surveys, playing apps, etc.  May require giving out your email, so keep a burner email.

Books

  • The only books you should be buying are those you will be reading over and over and/or marking up.  Otherwise, USE YOUR LIBRARY!  Get free books on Kindle, Nook, Amazon… the lists of freebies are endless.  “But I don’t like any of those classic-schmassic books.”  Read a book on getting a better paying job.

Activities

  • Look for listings at, yes, your local library.  Do I sound like a broken record?  Make use of your library!
  • Look online for your Parks and Recreation district.  Some events tend to be free in larger communities.
  • Get free classes at Lowes, Home Depot, Michaels, Hobby Lobby… check your local retailers.
  • Sign up for a free online class.  My current favorite place to look is Coursera.com, but there are lots of great lists.
  • Volunteer somewhere.
  • Make use of your local park.
  • Have a stay-in game night.

There’s really no reason to be spending a lot of money on entertainment.  Oh, need wifi?  Try your library (yet again!) or buy something small at a coffee shop (Starbucks, Coffee Bean, smaller coffee shops), Denny’s, McDonalds, etc.  Only pay for at-home wifi if you are going to be using it a lot.

I’ve got to get back to being good at a few of these, but a lot of these save me a ton of money.  I’ll work on a few more over the next few months.

 

 

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