Figuring Out The Elusive Entertainment Budget

If there is one category that haunts budgeters it is the entertainment budget. Trying to balance having a life and still pay off debt and save for other goals can be tough to quantify.

Budgeting for Entertainment

When building a budget, no matter what type of budgeting system you are using, there is always some indecision about the “entertainment budget” category. Entertainment is by definition more of a want than a need, but life needs some entertainment.

The $0 Entertainment Budget

There are those that do a $0 entertainment budget each month, and with all the free entertainment out there it is of course, possible for anyone. But I find that when I completely cut cost out, it bites me in the butt later as I’ll binge spend.

So how do you find the balance between $0 and $toomuch? It takes evaluating the kind of entertainment you enjoy. I like going to the art museum, which fortunately for me is free. I also like going to see musicals, which are not free.

Balancing Between $0 and $toomuch

I find balance by doing the free entertainment options more often and the costly ones more sparingly. Doing so many free entertainment activities, allows me to partake occasionally without guilt in the ones that cost money. Keeping in mind that I am frugal in the entertainment spending. I don’t pay to sit front row at the play, I have no problem sitting far away for less money.

In the end, paying for entertainment is the exception, rather than the rule. But I don’t have any rules barring me from never spending on entertainment, I just keep it low and let it build each month so I can enjoy the pricey entertainment.

Frugal Alternatives

So decide what you are comfortable spending on entertainment and maybe look at it from a big picture perspective. If you pay for a streaming service, and you truly enjoy and use it, it may well be worth the $95.88 – $191.88 per year. If that number is a little hard to swallow maybe you’ll prefer the alternative of a digital antenna.

Instead of meeting up with your friends at the bar, meet up for a walk around the park. It results in the same social value but is less of a hit to your wallet. Figure out what it is about the entertainment that you like, is it the social interaction? The experience of going to a show? Or because you are bored?

See if there is a more frugal alternative to get the joy of the activity without the cost. If you really want to have a drink with a friend do it at one of your homes. You’ll get far more bang for your buck buying a bottle of wine vs ordering a few glasses at a bar. You and your friends can even take turns hosting and providing the wine.

Just remember that good drinks don’t have to be super pricey. I’m partial to good beer and wine. I’m always looking to try new ones without breaking the bank. I like ordering a box of different wines to try from Winc every few months. The bottles average $13 a piece and delivery is free when you get at least 4 bottles (more wine please). If you want to check out Winc, you can get a free bottle of wine using my link. I’m very pro-free wine.

Wrapping it Up with a Bow on Top

Ultimately, how much you decide to budget for entertainment is going to be up to you. Remember personal finance is personal, but hopefully, this post gave you some ideas on how you can be entertained and still save some money. To sum it all up:

  • It’s possible to have a $0 entertainment budget
  • But it’s ok to spend money on entertainment, find the balance between $0 & $toomuch
  • If money is really tight look to frugal alternatives, like hiking with friends instead of drinks with friends or a digital antenna instead of a streaming service.

How do you decide on how much to budget for entertainment? Let me know in the comments!

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