Entertainment on a Budget

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Thanks to the great folks at Kimberly-Clark for sponsoring this post. My comments and opinions are my own.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Isn’t that what Jack Nicholson's character pounded out on his typewriter in the Shining? Well, if we don’t take a little time to watch the movies we won’t know things like that….and we don’t want to end up like him either, do we? So let’s make sure we play hard, too.

But let’s face it, if things are tight, the first thing we cut is the entertainment budget, isn’t it?

So here are a few ideas for stretching the entertainment budget:

1. Nature

If you are open to it and haven’t tried Nature lately, maybe even since childhood, take another look. Dollar for dollar, I believe Nature is the best entertainment value around. We recently visited an estuary and as soon as we hopped out of the car a large, red-tailed hawk swooped by and landed in a tree near us. It was dramatic and beautiful at the same time.

And Nature really isn’t all that far away. There may even be pockets of it within the city limits. Even if there are members of the family who think it’s “boring,” don't worry, Nature has a way of making converts.

2. Symphony, Opera, Ballet, Theater

If high ticket prices are keeping you away from the great music halls and theaters in your city, there may be another way. Check to see if there are ushering opportunities. I know someone who ushered concerts through college and experienced a lot of great music for free. It requires very little time commitment to gain entrance. Check schedules for special children’s performances, too. Also, season tickets may be a surprisingly great value. See if another couples wants to share in the cost of 2 season tickets, then split the concerts.


3. Co-Operative Family or Couples Movie Night

If you like getting together with other couples or families and you like the movies like I do, why not get together with others who love movies and have a movie night? Find out who has the biggest and best TV and sound system, pop up some popcorn and get watching. Try a theme night, like “Hitchcock” or the “Coen Brothers” for couples, or DisneyNature for families and enjoy a double feature.

Other Ideas

Here’s a quick list of other ideas:

  • In some cities, there is a day each month where museums, aquariums, arboretums and the like are free.  Also, some of these stop charging during the last hour before closing.
  • High school and local college sports can be great, inexpensive entertainment, too.
  • Local college or music conservatory concerts can be great. Music programs often lack the funds to advertise, but can produce high quality entertainment.
  • Lastly, but certainly not least, don’t forget the old standby, family game night. Spend a little time planning, make it a big deal, and have fun.


I would really love to hear your ideas for entertainment that doesn’t bust the budget. Please share them in the comment section below.

And be sure not to miss the other posts in this series on stretching the budget. Read about saving when heating and cooling the house, driving the car, buying clothing, and buying and preparing food.

Remember the Pick Up the Values Facebook page for other ideas from parents like you and me, and don’t forget the valuable coupons at the Pick Up the Values website.

Oh, and how could I forget, don't miss these giveaways still open as of this writing, Over or Under and Potty Training, featuring household essentials we all need.

Have fun!

Silvia Martinez
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