Save Money: 5 Sources of Free Entertainment

by on Jan 7 2013 - 28 Comments

Many people make New Year’s Resolutions related to their finances. One such resolution is to save more money. In the United States a lot of money is spent on entertainment. Whether it’s tickets to shows/events, DVDs, or the latest tech gadget, you could literally spend thousands of dollars a month on things that will keep you entertained.

In reality there are tons of sources of free entertainment, you just have to know where to look.

1) Books Magazines, and Blogs


Photo by CCAC North Library

I’m amazed how people do not even consider going to the library for books but instead buy every book they plan on reading. My wife and I are both big readers and own many books, but throughout the past couple years have saved hundreds of dollars by using the library instead of purchasing books. They also have magazines, many of which do not become outdated. A workout described in Men’s Health a month ago is just as valuable as it was when it was first published.

As a blogger, I read thousands of blog posts each month. While I do pay for a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, there is a ton of content online that is absolutely free of charge. You could spend hours a day simply consuming free content on the web.

2) DVDs, TV Shows, and Videos

I again am surprised at how few people realize that you can check out DVDs at the library. My wife and I request DVDs online and get alerts when they are ready for us to pick up. It’s all free of charge and there are way more DVDs available than we could possibly ever have time to watch.

Besides the library, there are many TV shows that have the most recent episodes online, free of charge. Recently I watched a few episodes of the show ‘Revolution’ online at no cost. I also have watched Dilbert episodes on Crackle completely free of charge. When all else fails, there is millions of hours of videos on Youtube that you can watch when you are bored.

3) Public Parks and Beaches

Photo by skyseeker

When I went to Hawaii a couple years back one of the things that was really nice was the fact that all the beaches are public. The beaches were beautiful and you could easily spend all day soaking up rays and relaxing, all for no cost. While the public beaches and parks in your part of the world may not be as amazing as Hawaii, there are definitely plenty of things you can do at the park for little or no cost. In the summer my wife and I enjoy going to beaches to relax as well as running through parks. Once we have a dog we will take advantage of some of the free dog parks in our city.

4) Music

There really isn’t much reason to pay for music these days, unless it is a concert or a song that you listen to all the time. I wrote about Spotify in the past and I think it’s the best source of free/discounted music. There is also services like Grooveshark or Pandora that offer free streaming music. While musician’s may not be amused about the direction that the music industry is headed, the truth is that music has become very accessible and people simply are not willing to pay for it like they used to.

5) Museums


Photo by PunkToad

Many museums charge for admission, but there are also many museums that are free. My wife and I went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art recently where there is a ton of incredible pieces. Cost of admission was a small fee to use the parking ramp, but it could have been totally free if we had found on-street parking. Other museums that do charge money will have certain hours during the week where there is free admission, such as Tuesday nights at the Minnesota History Center. If you do your homework and plan ahead, there are likely a number of opportunities to visit museums in your area for no cost at all.

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While there may be some costs associated with the above activities, they are essentially free. There are so many books that I want to read that I could easily spend most of my time reading them for free from the library. I do think that some things are worth paying for, such as a concert from my favorite band or a book that I want to be able to share with others. Overall, though, I think that saving money on entertainment is a great idea if you are trying to cut your expenses.
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28 comments
Beachbudget
Beachbudget

Well as you know I love the beach and spend practically every day there in one form or another. :) I guess I never think of renting movies from the library because the hours are so inconvenient and redox is only $1, so I still consider it a frugal purchase. Books however...I've gotten much better about being patient and waiting for it at the library. 

Eyesonthedollar
Eyesonthedollar

I feel like most of my free time has been reading blogs for the past few months. Absolutely free except for when my eyes go crazy and can't focus. Good thing I know people who can fix that. I do love the library. Ours doesn't have the greatest selection of new DVD's but they can get just about any book through inter library loan. My Kindle is my greatest weakness. I like the instant gratification. I really need to join Amazon Prime.

StudentDebtSurvivor
StudentDebtSurvivor

The bf borrows so many dvds and books from the library, our librarians know him on the first name basis and actually set aside new releases for him. He's sort of a "big deal" at the library lol. All laughing aside, all that free entertainment saves us a lot of money, so I'm proud of him.

JustinatTheFrugalPath
JustinatTheFrugalPath

Playing board games can be a fun cheap way to spend a night. A few times every year we get together with some family members. If you rotate the games it can be a fun night.

We also get free vouchers for bowling once in a while. That's a nice free date.

Money Life and More
Money Life and More

I use the library when I feel like reading and some awesome beaches are only three blocks away. When I was living outside DC we'd occasionally head to the National Mall and Smithsonian museum for a day of free entertainment as well! I guess I've always lived somewhere with something good for free since I've graduated college...

TacklingOurDebt
TacklingOurDebt

Great suggestions!

One of the things the I overlooked for many years was using the library. I spent so much time in the library during college and once I graduated I never went back. Instead I bought books, lots of books, at Chapters. How crazy! I have managed to re-sell some of them on Amazon, but many are sitting on my bookcase. Silly me for not getting them for free at the library.

KyleJames1
KyleJames1

Great ideas! I'd add geocaching to the list. It is a fun and free way to do treasure hunts. My 3 kids absolutely love to geo-cache. Great way to spend time together and get often get some great exercise in the process.

RFIndependence
RFIndependence

Great ideas for free entertainment. There is so much to go around when you check your community or nearby college calendar, free concerts, art shows, theater plays... to keep busy for week.

CanadianBudgetB
CanadianBudgetB

I don't buy music anymore but I always did fancy speciality rare box sets and vinyl. We always go to beaches and parks in the spring and summer as it's free or some you might pay for parking which is no big deal. I order books from the  library and DVD's if I can as I won't pay to buy a book. Great list. Mr.CBB

jz804
jz804

I recently realized that despite owning almost 200 DVDs, I rarely watch any, and always choose to watch something I haven't seen on Netflix or from the library. So, I sold a few of my tv show sets that I haven't watched in a few years and have no plans on watching any time soon, making around $300. Probably less than I originally paid, but still nice. In the past, if I liked a show I'd buy it on DVD. Now, I say "would I watch that again?" The answer is usually no.

Ugifter
Ugifter

Every once in awhile I get really happy when I remember how much is completely free at the library :-)

DebtRoundUp
DebtRoundUp

All great sources of entertainment DC.  I don't mind having fun without spending a dime.  I in fact love it even more.

GregatClubThrifty
GregatClubThrifty

Free stuff is the best.   I check out books from the library weekly!

DebtandtheGirl
DebtandtheGirl

Blogs are a great source of entertainment for me and I often learn a thing or two. Plus they are completely free!! Checking out books from the library is another source of entertainment for me that is completely free that I enjoy.

SenseofCents
SenseofCents

I  read a TON of blogs and it's a great source for entertainment and also information. I do need to figure out where the closest library is (yes I have no clue where the library is in my city) so that I can get movies and books for free.

MonsterPiggyBank
MonsterPiggyBank

I am really lucky living in Australia, we have some of the best beaches in the world and I live about 30 minutes away from 1 of them and about 1 hour away from another. Oddly enough, we don't go anywhere near as much as you would think we would.

FrugalRules
FrugalRules

Good ideas DC! We're always looking for ways to save money on entertainment. We try and watch as much tv and movies on line for free. We're also getting back to using the library more for some things as we're starting to take our five year old there to pick out books to read.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @TacklingOurDebt I like to buy books that I REALLY like, but for the most part I just like to rent.  I don't blame you for not wanting to go back...I spent many, many, many hours in the library during college.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @KyleJames1 My uncle is WAY into geocaching, and we often go when he comes into town (or when we go down to his house in Iowa).  I have two cousins who are really young and they love going along with.  Seriously sounds just like my uncle.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @RFIndependence Definitely!  Pretty much no matter where you live, there is some form of free (as well as tons of PAID) entertainment.  I'll stick with the free for the most part.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @jz804 Good point, I'm not a huge fan of 're-watching' things.  I do like keeping some of my all-time favorites so that I can share them with others.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @Ugifter They have so much stuff!  Especially if you request stuff online...so many DVDs, TV shows, books, etc.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @DebtandtheGirl 

It's so awesome that there is a ton of free content out there on blogs and websites...and for good reason! People are always looking for answers to questions or researching various things.

 

BTW - what is your blog url? It looks like you haven't set it up on your livefyre account yet.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @SenseofCents Our library is literally about a mile from our house, so it's super convenient.  If you request things you really only have to stop once a week to pick them up/return them so it can usually fit in your schedule easily.  I do read so much content online it makes it hard to read books, but blog posts and articles are entirely different than books.  I hope to read one or two on our cruise in February.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @MonsterPiggyBank I've found it's hard to find time to go to the beach during the work week, which leaves only Saturday and Sunday.  With only two out of seven days possible, I can see how you wouldn't make it out there as much as one would think.  On a side note Australia is a place my wife and I would love to visit someday!  She specifically mentioned it early on when we were dating so it's always in the back of my head that we need to make it out there.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @FrugalRules We were at the library this Saturday to pick up a movie.  There was only ten minutes to close and it was a mad house!  We found four more movies to rent as well.  The nice thing is you don't lose any money if you don't get around to watching them.  When I have kids I will bring them there as well, I used to enjoy going when I was younger.