Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many.” – Luke 14:16
Yes, everyone needs to be entertained at times. Life would be too boring without something to look forward to. Entertainment is definitely a need in the budget, but it can cover a range from zero to sky high. Where it will land in your budget depends on how much is left over after those fixed expenses.
We can all fit eating out occasionally, but it’s something that can add up. I recently hosted a “small” birthday party at one of those higher end chain restaurants. The bill came to about two hundred dollars, not something I can fit in the budget every week.
When you think about it, other than the variety and quality of food, the fast food restaurants serve the same purpose. It provides a place to share a meal with family and friends, a time of fellowship and fun.
There’s no better place for fine dining than your own home. The problem is we hardly ever invite anyone. The digital age has cut out socialization in all sorts of ways, dining with each other is one. Even in restaurants how often do you notice people using devices instead of conversing with each other? Let’s assume even this generation would consider it rude to use their smart phones while a guest in someone’s home. Well—maybe not.
But if you’re crunching your entertainment budget, think about block parties, grilling out, dinner parties. If you can afford steak, fine. If not, homemade hamburgers are much better than the burger joint.
Also think about inviting people whose budgets may be even smaller than your own. Read Luke 14 for an idea to build up treasure in heaven.
Which reminds me. Another cheap place to dine out, perhaps free, is the church dinner or potluck.
Next to dining out, going to the movies is the entertainment of choice for Americans—another activity that can strain the budget. It has to be a really good movie for me to go to the theater, especially at today’s prices. Our homes may be the solution here too. It’s never been easier to bring good movies into the house. Just add popcorn and good friends.
Fairs and Festivals
Springtime is full of fairs, festivals and carnivals. These are good fun for the family, especially for children.
Here’s a top ten money saving tip. Take a set amount of cash to these places and events. Leave the credit and debit cards at home. You’ll know when it’s time to go home. You’ll find it easier to say no to a whining child who wants that stuffed toy or another ride.
Enjoy the Outdoors
If you’re an outdoors type of person, your choice of entertainment is as wide as all outdoors. Fishing and camping can be very affordable. Everyone in the family has to enjoy it, though. I gave up camping when my grandsons grew out of cub scouts. Sleeping on the ground with nothing but a nylon wall between me and woodland creatures is not my favorite activity.
Vacation in Your Own Backyard
I’m not talking about your literal backyard, just suggesting people take daytrips to points of interest within driving distance. A lot of our family vacation time is spent going to museums, waterparks, old houses, parks, and lakes. Only recently did I realize there are a lot of places right around home we’d never seen. My only problem with that is my house isn’t close enough to the ocean, and a summer vacation isn’t a vacation for me without an ocean beach. For that reason, I’ll probably cut back on the eating out to save for the vacation. As with everything that isn’t fixed in the budget, there are tradeoffs. The price of gas is high, so daytrips may not be an option. Still, we don’t have to travel to the other side of the country to have a good time.
By all means check into what your state has to offer. You may not be located near the Grand Canyon or Yosemite, or Disney World, but chances are there are places right in your backyard, relatively speaking, that people are traveling from great distances to see.
Leave some money in the budget for entertainment if you can, and if there just isn’t enough, make your own. Look to children for your inspiration. You can take a group of children to a high-priced park and they might be entertained, but you can let them loose in a yard, and they’ll entertain themselves with nothing but their imagination.