How To Save Money on Entertainment

For someone trying to cut back, one of the easiest expenses to cut is the entertainment budget. Eating out, going to the movies, going to a play or the opera, going to a bar or a night club, going to an entertainment park with kids — these are all a lot of fun, but they often don't seem as important as paying the bills. However, having fun is important. If your life is a bore, you'll soon fall off your strict budget. So you'll need to find ways to have fun without spending a lot. And the good news is, whether you're single, a couple, or a family with kids, there are many cheap and free entertainment options, if you get creative.

1. Free concerts. There are usually free concerts held in most areas, but you have to look for them. Check your local paper's entertainment section. Or search google for your town and state, with "free concert" in quotes.

2. Rent DVDs and pop popcorn. Much cheaper than going to the movies and buying overpriced popcorn, a night at home with a good DVD and home-popped popcorn can be quite perfect.

3. Library. One of the best forms of free entertainment around, the library contains great books, magazines, and of course, free Internet access. Perfect for the family.

4. Museums. Many museums offer free admission one night a week. And even if it's not free, it's not usually that expensive.

5. Parks. Some areas have some amazing parks, but even the most modest of areas has a place where you can go and take a quiet walk or take the kids to a playground. Hours of free fun.

6. Board games. This works for kids as well as adults. Stay home, have some snacks, and play some fun board games.

7. College campuses. Great sources of free or cheap entertainment, including plays for a couple of dollars and some fascinating free lectures. Call or do a search for what's going on in colleges near you.

8. Play sports.

9. Crafts. If you have kids, there are plenty of cheap but fun craft projects you can do with them that can be hours of entertainment. See this list for some starter ideas (http://community.livejournal.com/perfect_parent/29796.html).

10. Puzzles. This will sound corny, but jigsaw puzzles can be hours of family fun. Really, try it.

11. Watch the stars. Find a quiet, peaceful spot, preferably away from city lights, and watch the stars. Better yet, find out when the next meteor shower is, and make it a date. Shooting stars are fantastic.

12. Walk on the beach. Mornings, evenings, anywhere in between, a walk on the beach is one of the best forms of free entertainment in the known world. There's something mystical about the ocean, and the sand, and the air.

13. Create a time capsule. If you have a family with kids, this can be a lot of fun. Also a lot of fun with a group of really close friends. Find a nice box, and put mementos of things that are important to you. Each of you should also write a little entry about things going on in your lives. Put pictures, ticket stubs, programs from meaningful events. Seal it with a date at least 5 years in the future, when you'll all open it and have the gift of memories.

14. Do a treasure hunt. Another corny idea that's tons of fun. Have one person leave a series of clues in hidden spots, each clue leading to the next clue, ending in a treasure (doesn't have to be expensive -- perhaps some candy or something like that).

15. Build something. A home project like building bookshelves, a fort, a bench, something like that, is a lot of fun. If you don't know how to build something, look it up on the Internet and give it a try. It can be a learning experience. Start with something easy.

16. Purge your stuff. OK, not everyone will find this to be fun, but I like to dedicate an afternoon to decluttering a closet or bedroom. It's so satisfying to get rid of old stuff I don't need or use anymore, and look.

17. Go to a poetry reading. Free, except for drinks. Poetry readings can be a lot of fun. Write a poem or choose one of your own, and join in the readings.

18. Art gallery openings. These are often free, with free wine and hors d'oeuvres. And sometimes, there's good art and good conversation. You can't beat that.

19. Literary readings. Check your paper for authors promoting their books at local bookstores. Often you can find some good authors reading excerpts of their books.

20. Book club. Find a local book club for great literary discussion and a motivation to read good books. If none exist in your area, organize a few friends to form your own book club.