Saving Money on Entertainment and Hobbies

by on Dec 13 2012 - 24 Comments

The following is a guest post co-written by husband/wife duo, Johnny and Joanna. They are a 20-something couple with five years of marriage under their belts. And while they’ve finally figured out the gist to managing their money, they write about their love-hate relationship with finances at the aptly titled blog, Our Freaking Budget.

It took us several months after graduating from college to come to terms with the fact that the rest of our lives would mostly be spent working. Working for the man. “Is this really what adults do?” This was the question on our naive minds as we’d shuffle out the front door before sunrise to go to our full-time jobs. And no matter where we looked — up, down, or in the mirror — the answer was a resounding, “Yes. This is what adults do.” It was a difficult pill to swallow initially. But then we started getting paychecks — real-life money. And all our self-doubt and introspection dissipated as we started spending some of our paychecks on fun things for ourselves. We didn’t feel like such sell-outs working 40 hours a week once we realized that we had money to spend on hobbies and entertainment.

But the only way we can enjoy spending money on fun stuff is by making sure we still have money left over for bills and savings. It’s an intricate balance to strike, one we’re still working at. So how do we maximize our number of hobbies and entertainment options, while not spending too much on them? And while we don’t always see eye-to-eye on everything, here are a few tips we’ve both found to be helpful.

For Entertainment (according to Johnny)

  • Don’t pay a dime for music

    Easier said than done, right? Not really. Thanks to programs like Spotify, personalized playlists are just a click away. If you’ve got Internet, you’ve also got a boatload of free music at your fingertips. And what about concerts? If Joanna and I went to every concert we wanted to, it’d start breaking the bank. So when it’s not a must-see show, we look up that artist’s live stuff on YouTube and create a video playlist that’s identical to the live set that would have been played at the concert. It’s cheap and gives us our concert fix (and even without that strange smelling cloud that covers most venues).

  • Never pay full price for movies

    So you’re worried about being the lame-o that recommends seeing a show during matinee hours? Joanna and I have been surprised to find that most of our friends are just as lame as we are and are happy to comply. Surprisingly, if it means saving a few bucks, most people are on board. And another plus is that the matinee crowd tends to attract more calm and collected theater goers that are awake by 11am on a Saturday (like senior citizens). Dollar theaters are also a great option.

For Hobbies (according to Joanna)

  • Have the hobbies pay for themselves

    Sound harsh? These are hobbies, not little children. From photography to knitting to woodworking, most hobbies can also be considered a skill. After the introductory supplies needed for our hobbies, Johnny and I don’t buy any other items. Instead, we sell the skills or items acquired from our hobbies to pay for more equipment/supplies. Or if you’re terrified/uncomfortable selling your skills (like I am), find freelance work relating to your real career to pay for your hobby’s equipment supplies.

  • Have others gift your hobby to you

    This may sound selfish. But each year without fail, my parents, in-laws, siblings, and husband ask what I want for birthday gifts or Christmas gifts. And I think they legitimately want to know, too. So if they ask, and if there’s something hobby-related that I’m saving up for, I let them know. And they usually give me a gift card or cash to put toward that item. They’re happy, I’m happy, we’re all happy. Ta-da.

So although we have the right to spend every dime we make on hobbies and entertainment, we try to resist by following those guidelines. And when we can’t resist concert tickets or a new toy of some sort, we make sure to check Craigslist first before paying full price. Today’s world comes with a lot of “entertations” — our new word for entertainment temptations. But with a little extra effort, we don’t have to spend any more than we want to.

What about you? Do you struggle with entertations? Do you hate our made-up word? What are your tricks for having fun without spending too much?

Editors Note: These are some fantastic tips from Johnny and Joanna on how to save money on entertainment and hobbies. I have written about Spotify in the past and I’m a huge fan. Because I use it at work, I pay the $10 monthly “premium” package so that I can have it streaming on my phone. I literally have an unlimited amount of music for just $10/month. I also love their idea of pursuing hobbies that pay for themselves. One thing I would add to their list is making use of the library for free DVD rental instead of buying them.

 

24 comments
Eyesonthedollar
Eyesonthedollar

We have spent to way to much on hobbies in the past and have some expensive ones. We are going to ski only on locals days this year. They are half price. If we don't get better snow, it will be a very cheap ski season!

JustinatTheFrugalPath
JustinatTheFrugalPath

We're working on having my wife's photography hobby (obsession) make money for us. Even if it were to cover just the expenses associated with it would make us happy.

Beachbudget
Beachbudget

I'm a bit older, but when I was in my 20's I didn't even think about saving on hobbies. But then again, I think maybe at the time that's ALL I really needed to spend money on, as my cost of living was really low. Now though, I do many of those things you mentioned. SoCal can be a very expensive place to live, but overall at least it's sunny enough where free outdoor activities are a surplus. 

GregatClubThrifty
GregatClubThrifty

We pay for all of our entertainment with credit card rewards.  It doesn't hurt our budget so much that way!

CanadianBudgetB
CanadianBudgetB

My hobby is photography and although my camera cost me close to 2 thousand dollars it's been money well spent over the past 6 years for a multitude of  reasons, weddings, travelling, festivities, the blog (one that I hope will pay for itself in the long term.Great post. 

KyleJames1
KyleJames1

I love these tips. I would add that a great way to get better at your hobbies for free is to check out YouTube. I started playing the guitar a couple years ago and the amount of great free lessons on YouTube is amazing. Worth a shot for other hobbies as well.

eemusings
eemusings

Thankfully, my hobbies are all relatively cheap! No pricey snow/outdoorsy type hobbies here, or pricey indoor type ones for that matter. (See

http://nzmuse.com/2010/10/26/the-cost-of-hobbies/) I also don't pay for music (we do pay for movies, but rarely full price at the cinema - wish we had dollar theatres here but at least we have cheap Tuesdays) or books. Our city also isn't one known for its cheap/free things to do...

 

 

 

RFIndependence
RFIndependence

Great tips! I travel extensively and write on several travel websites, when I was still working full time, all my holidays were paid by the writing. I taught piano lessons too, it is easy to teach beginners.

Jordann
Jordann

These are great tips! When I think about how much some people spend on hobbies - things like boating, or golfing, or horse back riding, I can't imagine spending that much on a HOBBY! As such, I try and keep my hobbies on the less expensive side. My most costly hobby is definitely running, which I spend a fair amount on (for the gear) but I try and justify it by saying it keeps me fit. :)

DebtRoundUp
DebtRoundUp

I do a pretty good job saving money on entertainment, except for my hobby, which is fixing up cars.  That hobby is expensive and I don't feel like selling my services.  I have made money on some of the cars that I fixed up and sold, but now I am working on Jeeps which I love.  I don't know if I will sell the one that is currently in my garage.

SenseofCents
SenseofCents

We have a hard time saving money on entertainment. We usually decide things at the lat second and never remember to look for cheaper things.

Finance_Fox
Finance_Fox

There are many things that are "free" or "half-off" when it comes to entertainment, the only issue is that many are lazy to find the time on those special dates, such as the matinee hours, or they simply don't want to invest the time into finding the deals. They do exist, but they're rarely the low hanging fruit for easy access.

FrugalRules
FrugalRules

Good post. Before we had kids we'd go to matinee showings on a Saturday because it was half price. I have no shame saving money like that. Having a good hobby really can turn into something good. We have a good friend who is an awesome photographer and she started doing it as a hobby several years ago and took on sessions to pay for her equipment and she has since turned it into a nice little business.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @Beachbudget Beaches are a HUGE win if you are trying to be frugal.  The beach sounds pretty nice right about now....especially since it's freezing out here and there is ice everywhere : /

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @CanadianBudgetB $2k isn't bad, it's about $450 for a season lift ticket here for snowboarding, and that's after spending $700+ to get started :0  

 

My wife would like to get a camera that's ~$1-$2k, and she does hope to pay it off with freelance jobs and whatnot.  I'm sure your camera will pay off now that you blog so much!

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @KyleJames1 Youtube (and the internet in general) are great way to develop skills.  I am not opposed to paying for some advanced tutorials, but no matter what the topic is there is a HUGE library of free info.  I learned a crapload about Excel and visual basic simply through the websites.  Further, there is tutorials on house stuff which can save a few $ on the smaller projects.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @eemusings I rarely go to movies just because I get them all for free at the library.  I hardly have time for hobbies outside of working on this site and working on the house, so I avoid all those expensive hobbies as well!

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @Jordann I also run and the gear can add up but if that's your most expensive hobby you are doing pretty well at not spending much on hobbies, that's for sure.  I went on hiatus from golf and snowbaording 2 years ago and I'm still on the hiatus because they are just too expensive for me to justify right now.  I hardly have time to read, so I definitely do not feel the need to take on an expensive hobby at this time.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @DebtRoundUp That's a pretty cool hobby.  I wish I knew even the basics about cars.  I so far haven't found it worth my time to learn basic maintenance.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @SenseofCents It happens, plus with your side income being pretty sizable I would not feel bad at all spending a bit more on entertainment.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @Finance_Fox There's a learning curve when it comes to finding deals.  I by no means claim to be an expert, but I think I have gotten a lot better at it the past year.  There are a lot of blogs and other resources I take advantage of that specialize in finding deals.  But with the matinee movie example, it's pretty common knowledge and people just don't want to go to a movie at that time.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @FrugalRules Good for her!  My wife wants to do something similar with photography, and I have a friend considering buying a camera for a few grand and using photography work to pay it off.