For years I was a single mom. My son and I would consider bean burritos at Taco Bell a big night out. I learned to be thrifty out of necessity and now that I am in my 60’s and still wanting to save money for my future, those lessons continue to serve me well.
Some might say I’m cheap, but others like minimalists, extreme couponers, or the guy who writes the blog: Things I Find in the Trash, might think I live extravagantly. I feel like I have found a nice balance between enjoying life and protecting my finances at the same time. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have the same money fears that plague most of us.
Many of my friends and clients, fellow boomer women, struggle with Bag Lady Syndrome. When they are having a rough financial week, month, or season, their go to reaction is that they will become homeless. They have very vivid images in their minds of themselves in raggedy clothes with dirt smudged across their faces eating cold food out of a tin can. And, these images haunt them over and over again.
That is why I am going to be writing more blog posts about money. And, because I want you to be able to enjoy life and have fun, I’m going to start with ways to save on entertainment.
7 Ways To Save Money on Entertainment and Fun
Create a “fun money” stash. This can be a cash jar, envelope, separate account, or a category in your budget. When you allocate funds for experiences you will enjoy it is less likely you will reach a point of frustration and rebel by doing something that busts your budget. You deserve and need to have fun, so it makes sense to plan for it.
Take advantage of your public library. Most libraries have a wide variety of books and movies that you can borrow for free or rent for a couple dollars. The quantity and quality of what is available in our public libraries is highly underestimated, especially when you consider there are now online catalogs full of free downloadable ebooks and audio books for you to enjoy. If you haven’t been to your library lately, check out their website to see what they have available now. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Drink water and avoid desserts when you eat out. Have you ever ordered an inexpensive meal at a restaurant only to be surprised by how high your bill actually was? Many restaurants charge inflated prices for drinks so they can lower meal prices and appear more affordable. And then, they tempt you with cookies next to the cash register or sugary desserts at the end of your meal. With all of these temptations it is easy to end up paying much more than you intended. When you choose water and a dessert free meal instead, you will be taking good care of both your budget and your health.
Use coupons. Don’t be embarrassed. There is no shame in getting the best deal you can. Businesses would not be spending money to print all those coupons and get them in front of you if they didn’t want you to use them.
One of my favorites is the buy one, get one free meal deal. If you are a single lady like me, they can get you out of the house and having fun with your friends. In addition to coupons, you can watch for free or discount days at museums, movies, and other fun places to go.
Share a meal. You will save money and calories when your entree is split two ways. I know a lot of couples who have happily shared meals for years.
My being a vegetarian can make it challenging for me to share meals, but sometimes the better deal is in getting an extra meal or two in leftovers instead. My friends and I think alike. We love to save money, but only if it doesn’t compromise our eating well and having fun.
Go to movie matinees or discount theaters. I love matinees. The prices are cheaper and the popcorn is fresh. There aren’t any crowds and you can sit almost anywhere you want. Sometimes, you get the whole theater to yourself. And, when the movie is over you still have plenty of day left to do other things. Matinees are not just for kids anymore, unless you include kids at heart.
Ditch cable TV. I cut the cable cord a few years ago and have never looked back. There are endless free or inexpensive resources for home entertainment. I personally use Netflix and Hulu. My son is a big fan of Vudu. You can supplement these with movies from Redbox or your public library if you want.
If I want to watch the news (I usually don’t) I bring it up on my laptop. I prefer to see news summaries online and limit my exposure to all the death and destruction. I do have the top and local news stations bookmarked on my computer’s browser so that I can get to them quickly if there is an emergency of some kind.
Saving money is easier when you think of it as a game and focus on what you really want long term. I would love to hear some of the ways you spend smartly (or not at all) to have fun. You can share your ideas in the comments below.
Are you ready to take control of your money instead of letting it control you? If you are interested in the support of a professional and well-respected coach, I would love to talk to you. CONTACT ME for a complimentary conversation.