Entertainment on a Shoestring Budget

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I’ll be the first to admit, I get bored easily.  I go through phases of interests and can be flighty as all get out.  The other thing to admit is that bouncing from hobby and interest to hobby and interest can be pricey.  Between my hobbies, and simply getting bored and needing entertainment, Hubby and I have found a few ways to have some fun without spending a fortune.

Frugal Hobby Fun

Obviously, the ways to have fun with your hobbies depends largely on what your hobbies are.  Some are inherently more expensive than others, and some produce results that are useful or can be sold, and some do not.  But here are a few basic ideas:

  • Hit the library!  Whatever hobby you’re interested in, the library will probably have a selection of books about.  Speaking from experience, I can certify that buying books for different hobbies can get very expensive very quickly, especially if you are not able to find them second hand.  So be sure to check out your library for books.  Even using it to give a thorough look over of a book before deciding if it’s one you want to buy can save quite a bit of money.  Also speaking from experience, a book that looks very useful may turn out to be a total waste of money if you don’t preview it first.
  • Hit the thrift stores!  Lots of people start hobbies and lose interest, so lots of hobby supplies end up at thrift stores.  Some stores are better than others for carrying things for hobbies, so it’s a good idea to check all the stores in your area to see which one seems to have the most.
  • Hit the discount stores!  Going to places like fabric stores or hobby shops is a real blow to the budget sometimes.  Before visiting those stores, check whatever discount stores are in your area, such as Big Lots and Ollie’s.  Often they will carry some hobby based supplies, and they are guaranteed to be much cheaper than they would be at specialized shops.
  • If you can. choose a hobby that makes something useful or something you could sell.  Sewing, knitting, crocheting, woodwork… these are all great hobbies that produce products in the end.  Beadwork, making homemade bath and body products and arts like painting and working with clay could potentially be useful or profitable as well.

Fun in General

Aside from working with hobbies, sometimes you want just some good, old fashioned fun.  It’s easy to spend a stinkin’ fortune doing fun things.  Especially since, for a lot of us, shopping is fun.  Talk about entertainment that needs to stop!  Here are a few of the ideas Hubs and I use:

  • Going to the movies is one of the most popular ways to have fun.  Unfortunately it’s also very expensive.  There isn’t really a way to make going to the movies cheap, but if you are going to go, there are ways to make it somewhat cheaper.  If you have a second run dollar theater near you, this is a great way to cut costs.  If not, most regular theaters offer cheaper tickets during daytime or matinee showings.  Making one of these will usually save you a few bucks.  Unfortunately the more expensive part are the concessions.  Even at dollar theaters or matinee showings this will set you back quite a bit of money.  The best advice is to eat something before you go and not have concessions at all, but if you’re going to, be sure to check online for possible coupons for them.  Many of the major theater chains offer certain discounts on concession combos.  I still cannot condone hitting the theater very often, but if it’s one of your favorite ways to have fun, do it as frugally as possible.
  • The same as for hobbies, visit your library.  If you like to read, you are obviously all set when you visit the library.  Most libraries have several other resources you may not be aware of.  There are usually sections for dvds, and many are carrying BluRays now as well.  Most of them also have a section for musical cds, if listening to music is your thing.  {Although there are also free services such as Spotify and Pandora to help you get your fix as well.}
  • I’m giving this one it’s separate listing:  Libraries are also great for other kinds of entertainment.  Larger libraries often offer classes and guest speakers on a variety of topics.  Our local library also hosts authors to speak and sign books.  It also has live music during the holidays on Sunday afternoons.
  • And, back to movies.  Other than the library, there are a number of ways to get movies on the cheap.  Cable has gotten outrageously expensive, and cutting it is bound to save you quite a bit of money.  Doing so doesn’t mean you won’t be able to watch anything on tv, however.  Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu are all significantly cheaper than cable and give you access to movies and shows for a small monthly fee.  Cue up a movie and make some popcorn, and you’ve got your movie night for a pittance.
  • Farmer’s Markets.  This one might seem a little counter-intuitive, since it’s shopping.  But not all shopping is bad.  We all have to shop for food, right?  I find that going to a farmer’s market is a much more entertaining experience than shopping at a sterile store.  Often you can chat with the farmers or vendors, and simply enjoy the hubbub of the market.  Although whether it’s cheaper to shop at a farmer’s market depends largely on where you live.  The farther removed from farmland and the more upscale the area are two factors that tend to increase prices, so be sure to compare.
  • Parks are another great place for frugal fun.  There are the obvious things, like trails to walk on and playgrounds for the kids, but your park may also harbor other hidden gems.  Some of our larger metro parks host events, such as walks with a naturalist or educational classes.  Last summer Hubs and I went to one of the local metro parks to hear an ensemble of flutes play.  It was lovely, and completely free.

These are just a few of the ideas we use to have fun on a budget.  We don’t go to the movies often, but the rest of them we use on a more regular basis.  The library is practically a second home for us.  Between my book and magazine habit and Hubs’ movie habit, the library saves us a fortune.

Can you think of any other frugal ways to have fun?  Share in the comments!

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