Ahh, we continue the year of living frugally. I've been diligently cutting coupons, scouring the net for deals and tricks. I have to say I think it's going fairly well. I am now stockpiled with enough meats to get through our family dinners for several weeks or more!
So carrying on with my little experiment....how shall we entertain ourselves on the cheap?
This is one area where we don’t need much help because we rarely do anything! We are the family that has no problem using a TV we got for free until it literally falls apart, we rarely go to the movies, we take walks, play games, read books....we're rather low key.
Here’s what we’ve done so far that helps:
Pandora.com: This is a free music service you can use on your PC (and I’m guessing it has other mobile apps, but that’s obviously something I don’t waste money on). You create custom radio stations based on your fave artists, songs, music genres and viola---free music! I believe you are only allowed 30 free hours a month, so use it wisely. It took some time but I have trained myself: I pause the music or turn it off when I’ll be out of the room for any length of time. It automatically stops the music for you in some time if you are not ‘active’ on the site for some time. It has nifty features like song lyrics, the ability to buy a song, and social networking connections. You have to listen to a few ads every so often, but who cares? I buy CD’s only for the artists I REALLLLLLLY love.
Movies/DVD’s: Okay seriously, we RARELY buy or even go see movies. We don’t even belong to anything like Netflix. But if we did, it would probably be Netflix where you can stream videos on your computer or with your Wii! We just aren’t huge movie people. We buy the ones we REALLY love that we want to keep forever, and the few that the kids want (and we do so on sale or with discounts!). With as much is on television these days, we don’t have time or need for buying/watching movies.
Redbox is also a great way to get movies. There are tons located around the country and for 1.00 you can check out a movie. Return it the next day and you have spent 1.00 and tax (and a little gas) for a movie! You can use Redbox.com to pay, hold movies and if you sign up for the emails, they usually send freebie coupons every so often!
Television: We currently use Dish Network. It was cheaper than DirectTV and WAY cheaper than our local cable company. We have the 2nd cheapest plan meaning, for us, we get the channels we want for the most part and a DVR for under 50 a month. Your plan will vary for your families needs. For us, the DVR is priceless, because instead of buying my kids movies, I simply record their fave tv shows and viola…30 minutes of peace. Dish Network also regularly previews other channels not included in your package so if you see a show you like on that preview channel…just DVR a whole mess of them. That is how I have my stash of Golden Girls episodes. Don’t be hatin…you know you love the girls.
Dish even showed a marathon of all the "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" episodes that were off air when Dish and Fox had their little spat over money and airing their Fox shows. I find their customer service to be superb over DirecTV.
Hulu.com is also a great resource for FREE television. You can also watch many of your fave shows on the website for their network, for example, you can watch ABC Primetime shows on www.abc.com.
Books: Seriously, do I even NEED to spout the benefits of going to the library???? REALLY? Books for free. DUH. Videos too! If you simply MUST purchase books and you do it on a regularly basis try your local bookstore chains rewards program. Some cost, some don’t. But if you buy books enough, the cost of the program should be far less than the savings you’ll receive. If you do NOT save more than you spend on the program, um, duh, drop it. Amazon and Ebay are great places to get good priced books as well. There are also various swap websites and trading websites for books, but I don't have experience with them. For that you shall google.
And get your behind to the aforementioned library.
Black Friday and this time of year is the time to stock up on family board games also! One Black Friday (when my oldest was a newborn and I was up before dawn ANYWAYS) I stocked up on several of the traditional kids games (Candy Land, etc) for 5.00 each a game!
Memberships for Local Activities: These things will vary based on your area. Generally speaking, if you are even a small family and you visit your local museum, zoo, aquarium, etc more than a few times a year....joining the membership is worth it. For us, we also go more since we are members. We may still only go to the zoo 6x a year or so...but if we even go 3x we have paid for our membership. We are blessed to have access to the Audubon Institute were we can go to the zoo, aquarium and get discounts at the IMAX and the Insectarium. Keep an eye out and scope around for deals on local activity memberships on the cheap!
I hope these were helpful tips and saves you some moola! Do you have any tips you can share with us!!??