How to Entertain Yourself for Cheap (or Free)

When it comes to cutting corners and trimming the budget, one of the more annoying things to cut can be the entertainment allotment. Sure, it’s a smart idea and a wise way to reduce your outgoing cash flow, but it can start to feel boring after a while. But I’ve found a few ways to get around that that I think you’ll agree are great alternatives to overpaying for entertainment or going without it entirely.

If you want to really see a change, drop your cable service and subsist on online video. Many networks stream their offerings a day or two after they air, meaning you can watch cable and broadcast shows via the Internet at your convience. Hulu is a great site that offers new and classic TV series from a variety of networks. You can also turn to YouTube. True, most people know and use YouTube for personal videos or short clips, but they offer a growing number of movies to stream for free! Click here for more.

Another resource for lower-cost entertainment is DVD-by-mail services like Netflix, which includes the ability to stream movies on your computer in the subscription cost. It’s a small price to outlay in exchange for a reduced cable bill, and you’ll get to enjoy some entertainment options without forking over more than $100 for a pricey cable package.

There are also tons of free ways to entertain yourself on a budget. The public library is still the best place to go for free media, from books to CDs and DVDs. Seriously, don’t overlook the library if you’re looking for a thrifty entertainment fix. If you want to get out and see the world away from a screen, I suggest taking a trip to a local park, or even a state park. A walk or picnic in the park is a great way to spend an afternoon that won’t burn your budget, and many public parks also host free performances by symphonies and bands.

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of just getting out in the world and seeing what it has to offer. Take a bike ride or a walk, or make a date to catch up with friends. There are dozens of ways to entertain yourself that don’t have to be about money.

This guest post is contributed by Emily Thomas, who writes on the topics of online college degree. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: [email protected].

20 thoughts on “How to Entertain Yourself for Cheap (or Free)

  1. Simple in France

    We don’t have TV or cable and haven’t for some time. We watch anything we feel like renting or that we can download (legally) on our computer. Works for us.

    1. money funk

      See, I could totally work with that. I am not a big fan of TV except for my two shows Desperate Housewives and Supernatural. Now if my husband wasn’t such a TV whore… πŸ˜‰

  2. Ryan @ Planting Dollars

    I agree… I don’t have a TV and go on hulu occasionally if I’m bored… otherwise I’m reading, blogging, exercising, working, or being outside… there’s plenty to do without the tube… it’s hard to relate to people who sit in front of TV every night… frankly I find them to be super boring!

    1. money funk

      No TV? I envy you people. I think that is why there is such beautiful architecture in the world… people weren’t couch potatoes sucking up TV time. I have to agree with you. Complete waste of time.

  3. Forest

    Sadly I can’t use Hulu or Netflix here in Cairo but there are enough other sources of things online to do for now….

    I never turn my TV on and don’t have cable here, although I here it’s very cheap.

    1. money funk

      No what else I enjoy about TV… at least when its not on in my house (rare occasion).. is the quietness. So peaceful. πŸ˜‰

  4. Leslie

    For those of you afraid of losing cake, you will still get your network channels free and in HD. So how often do you really watch cable channels that you can’t find on juku or netflix?

    1. money funk

      Hey Leslie,
      Gotta make those crackers! Sweet. I am feeling like a minority by having cable. πŸ™‚ On the other hand, its funny how our computers/netbooks/iPads have become our life lines. But it so convenient!

  5. Moon Hussain

    Y’know, right now I can’t seem to part with my Showtime and HBO but that will probably have to be the case when I hit San Diego.

    Hulu might be a great option, if I can hook up my pc to my tv for entertainment or even my laptop. That’d be awesome.

    I might have to try that for a month or two and see if it works out.

    Last thing about getting together with friends: there’s a huge hidden cost and it’s called ‘food.’ I usually get them together at a restaurant and there ya go! Better option might be to set up a picnic somewhere or meet your friends at your place and have everyone bring something little over.

    1. money funk

      How would I watch True Blood if I had no cable?? LOL. I’ve hear of using Pirate Bay, although I don’t know how legal it is. LOL.

      We do potlucks with BYOB (bring your own beer) and we rarely spend much. People just like a place to party. Good tip.

  6. Derek Sisterhen | Past Due Radio

    Hey Christine – great post! When my wife and I were dumping our debt we got very creative with having fun on the cheap.

    We dumped our cable package about three years ago and haven’t looked back. We’re saving about $1,400 annually without it and now get our favorite shows online. With what we’ve saved, we’ll go to concerts and other shows, or add to our travel budget to explore new territory (that’s our favorite form of entertainment).

    My thought is that entertainment for most is less about money and more about how we use our time. When a third of Americans are overweight, getting off the couch isn’t just about saving money, it’s about having a life.

    1. money funk

      I have to say that some of the best times I’ve had is when they were cheap because I didn’t have $$ (especially my college years).

      Now, could you talk to my husband about dumping the cable package? That’s $140 a month! *ouch* I would love to add that money to pay down the debt or take up an occasional show or two.

  7. savvysavingbytes

    I still watch movies on antique VHS cassettes. Many people have switched over to the newer movie CDs. This means a terrific flood of VHS cassettes have hit thrift stores lately. At a big dollar a pop, I’ve been able to find all kinds of great classic movies I haven’t seen in ages.

    1. money funk

      Oh, can I send you mine? πŸ˜‰ Actually, my husband’s. He has a whole slew of them and won’t part w/ them. Even though I cannot remember the last time we watched one. Come to think of it…our VHS is not even hooked up!

      That’s great you are utilizing a thrifty habit (I used to do that w/ my old car which had an 8-track system)!

  8. alexis

    You’d be surprised how many corners you can cut when you look at entertainment! We cancelled cable for 2 1/2 years & internet for a year & I was amazed how much it added up to in the long run & what bills we were able to pay down or pay off.

    1. money funk

      Our family pays $140 per month for thousands of channels with nothing to work. It drives me bonkers. I would love to be w/out that dorky cable bill. But its the compromise in my marriage. LOL. πŸ˜‰

      I checked out Emily’s suggestion for YouTube movies. They have some great ones for FREE!

  9. Roshawn @ Watson Inc

    Yes, we certainly had to reduce this expenditure as well when we were coming out of debt a couple of years ago, albeit begrudingly. It was somewhat cleansing to be a little bit more creative with our entertainment.

    1. money funk

      There has to be some ‘begrudingly’. If it was an easy journey… then most of us wouldn’t be on it. But it was well worth it, wasn’t it? I can’t wait for that debt free day! *dream*

Comments are closed.