Who Said Going Out Had to Cost You a Fortune?

Just because your budget is tight, it doesn’t mean that you have to sit at home night after night without any entertainment. Saving money does not have to be drastic. Actually with a little ingenuity, you will be surprised that your lifestyle doesn’t have to change much. What I have learned is that saving money and living frugally is not a cookie cutter recipe. This is one of the reasons why I share my experiences to help others with a different perspective.

Over the years, many of my friends would recommend to me to go to the mall for a little entertainment. They rationalized that I could have fun window shopping, which is cheap entertainment, they say. However for me, this form of entertainment is always disastrous. I don’t have that type of willpower that all the things that I want are dangled before me and I can’t buy them. Despite me knowing that my money was allocated for something else, 9 out of 10 times I ended up spending money that should have gone to paying a bill or into my savings account. To me, window shopping is like taking a kid into a toy store and saying, “Look at all the pretty, shiny toys. You can only look. Do not touch or ask to take them home.”

Although, window shopping works for many of my friends, it doesn’t work for me. The mall and I do not mix if I am not ready to shop! Through many trials and many errors, I eventually learned what worked for me. From those hard lessons, I have put together a list that is working for me. Here are some ways you can enjoy great fun and save big at the same time.

  1. Forego Seeing the Latest Movies. I rarely go to the theatre to see a newly released movie. Nowadays within four to six months of a movie’s release, that same movie will be on video. Stream-it on your own television or computer for a significant reduction in price. Services like Netflix Instant, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Video offer a massive amount of content to watch at a low monthly cost. It’s really a fantastic way to provide extensive entertainment options to an entire family or a living room packed with friends.
    • When I did go to the theater, I wait for the discounted flick or attend the matinee. If that doesn’t work, you can always catch a free movie in the park. This is definitely cheap fun and usually a kid-friendly event.
    • Drive-In Movies have made a comeback. Experiencing a night at the drive-in is so much different than seeing a movie at the local multiplex…. it is very much like a tailgate party at a sporting event. You pay by the car load which is usually $10 versus the per person price. When you combine seeing multiple movies in one visit; having your family and friends come along with your dog to boot; being able to read, listen to music or play ball or games before the movies; and enjoying some great food from the concession stand…..it all makes seeing a movie while sitting under the stars very memorable! This was always a favorite outing for my family.
  2. Research Local Events in Your Town’s Circular Newsletter or Do an Internet Search for Area Free Events.
    • Many beaches are all free to the public, to swim, body surf or hang-ten. Play in the sand, collect seashells or just bask in the sun.
    • Festivals are held year round which can provide hours of free entertainment and lots of leisurely strolling.
    • Many parks are free to the public, which may have golfing, basketball courts, bike and hiking trails, and grassy areas for a picnic or flying a kite.
    • Visit a local museum on their free day.
    • Take a walking tour of a nearby city. Pick up a free map or visitor’s guide at the Department of Commerce or City Hall. It is amazing what you can see when you walk instead of driving. Enjoy the local sites.
  3. Visit a Nearby Flea Market for Bargains Aplenty. This a good spot to shop for locally grown fruits, veggies, baked goods, eggs, dairy products, meats, herbs and other goods.
  4. Volunteer to Work an Event. Volunteering at a sporting event like NASCAR racing, monster truck racing, and wrestling tournaments can mean getting free tickets. State Fair, music, film or art festival organizers often offer fans free tickets, benefits or discounts in exchange for helping out. These are great ways to get into the often pricey events on the cheap. When your shift is over, volunteers are free to enjoy the festival or event!
  5. Get Tickets to a Minor League Game. I have enjoyed going to minor league games such as baseball and basketball because you still get the excitement of being at a live sporting event but you are not nearly paying the price of going to a professional game. Many of the professional athletes that we watch on television once played in the minor leagues.

Okay, if you have followed any of the five methods above, you have saved a lot of money by now…

So pat yourself on the back for being marvelously thrifty. I bet your town is an interesting place and has a lot of great inexpensive activities if you just look for them. When you start saving yourself from useless spending, you won’t regret your decision to go out in a frugal manner.

If you have had other great successes in going out on a budget or in a frugal way, let me know in a comment. We would love to hear from you!

Photo Credit: Kozzi.com

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