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SCALING BACK ON YOUR HOUSEHOLD BILLS: LOWERING YOUR FAMILY’S ENTERTAINMENT BUDGET

I am in the process of lowering all of my family’s bills. Living on one income, with five children three of which are in diapers/pull-ups, does not allow me for much wiggle room in the extras department. That includes my family’s entertainment budget. I have found some creative ways to lower my family’s entertainment budget which still allows us to enjoy some fun things together as a family. If you are looking to scale back on your budget in the entertainment department then I suggest that you follow one, or more, of the tips below.

GET RID OF YOUR CABLE

I know that this will cause a lot of people to gasp in shock and dismay.However do I entertain a house full of children with no cable television?” You would be surprised at how much your family does NOT miss the cable/satellite once it is gone. I thought that my children would faint from the mere thought of the cable getting switched off, but I have instead replaced it with other forms of visual entertainment.

  • Watch your favorite television shows online. Most cable stations and television networks put their new television show episodes online to be previewed less than 24 hours after they air on their designated day. I have found that I am able to watch the majority of my “can’t miss shows” online the very next day after they are aired on tv. Of course I don’t get to see it as soon as the shows come out, but I catch the synopsis of the show online on various websites, as well as follow most of my favorite shows Twitter hashtags to see what’s going on while the show is airing. (This just appeals to my excitement of seeing the show online the next day.)
  • Utilize the free movie rentals from the RedBox and Blockbuster movie rental kiosks. I cannot stress how much I love RedBox. I hardly ever pay to rent a movie for my children because both RedBox and Blockbuster frequently release free movie rental codes to their consumers. Whether you receive the free rental codes in your email or from your favorite frugal website, you can always do a simple SwagBucks search and find a free movie rental code at your fingertips. BONUS TIP: You can use each free rental code more than once! As long as you have multiple debit cards, each card can be ran using the same free rental code. For example: If you use the code DVDONME on one of your debit cards for a free rental. You can turn right around, use a different debit card and the code DVDONME again and get another free movie rental. (By the way, this is an actual free rental code. Use it. Have fun!)
  • Take advantage of your local library and check out movies there. It has just been brought to my attention that you can rent movies from your local library. (I know, I must have been living under a rock for the last 27 years.) When one thinks of renting movies from the library the words “Reading Rainbow” or “boring documentaries” may come to mind. This does not apply to my library, and I’m sure the mass majority of libraries out there. I decided to pick up a library card this weekend to see what movies were being offered to be checked out, and I was pleasantly shocked at the variety of dvd’s. Not only were there a lot of movies to choose from, there were also television show series as well. The movies were up-to-date (I saw plenty of movies on my library’s shelves that were being offered in my local Redbox kiosk) and the check out fee of free was appealing. The limit of five movies was perfect for my family because each of my sons got the opportunity to pick out a movie/tv show for themselves and I picked up one for me. It was a win-win situation all around.
  • Rent movies through Netflix.I don’t currently have a Netflix account, but I have been hearing so many rave reviews of their program that I am tempted to try out a trial membership with them for a month to review their services. Netflix is an online dvd rental company that allows you rent movies with them for $8.99 per month. You go online to create a list of movies that you want to see. They send you one movie at a time along with a prepaid envelope to return the movie. Their are no late fees which means you keep the movie for as long as you want. Once you are done viewing the movie you pop it in the envelope and send it back. Once Netflix receives your returned dvd they will automatically mail you out the next movie on your list. BONUS TIP:You can also use your same Netflix account to watch movies on your computer and stream the movies to your television set via the Wii game console. These extra services give  you more bang for your buck because you can watch movies online, or through the Wii, while you are waiting to receive your next dvd in the mail.

DON’T EAT OUT FOR WHOLE MEALS, GO OUT FOR DESSERT INSTEAD

I have since learned my lesson on taking out my entire family to eat lunch or dinner. For one adult and five kids the bill can easily amount to over $50. (For $25 more I could buy groceries for my entire family for a week.) I just cannot justify paying this much money for one meal when I could easily supply my family with all of their meals for one week for just a little bit more than this. I have since learned how to treat my family out for dessert instead while enjoying lunch or dinner at home.

Most restaurants and fast food stops provide discount coupons on dessert treates for their customers in the  hopes of enticing them to spend more money on dessert after purchasing a high priced meal. I have learned how to read the fine print on all of my coupons and instead take advantage of only the dessert coupons and forgo the high priced dining. (By reading the fine print, I am making sure that I don’t have to purchase a high priced meal to use the discounted dessert coupon.) My family enjoys hearty meals at home but once a week we go out to grab a nice dessert together along with a trip to the park. My favorite places to stop are Sonics where they have 1/2 priced drinks during a certain time everyday (thanks to Kathleen from For the Love of Chaos for pointing this out to me) and McDonalds where my children can easily enjoy an apple pie and an ice cream cone for less than $8 for all six of us.

CHECK YOUR LOCAL PARKS AND MUSEUMS FOR FREE EVENTS

Since moving to a bigger city, I have been really excited about all of the free opportunities that my family and I can participate in. For the just price of a gallon of gas we have been able to participate in free movies on the beach, free admission into several local museums, and music festivals in the park among other things. Even if you live in a smaller town, your family can enjoy the benefits of free, or reduced, admission prices to certain events. Check with your local Parks and Recreation service to see what events they have planned in the next few weeks. Your local library is also a good source of information for family friendly events in your area that are free, or close to free.

It really doesn’t take much for you and your family to enjoy spending quality time together for little to nothing. Just because you are scaling back on your family’s entertainment budget doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy being entertained outside of your home.

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One Comment

  1. Great tips 🙂 As you said in the article, I take the kids to Sonic about three times a week after school (and after chores… lol) and for all six of us to get a drink or slush (them, small — me, Rt 44) it costs $3.91 as long as we go between 2 and 4pm. We also do the McDonald’s trips because who wouldn’t appreciate 2/$1 apple pies and ice cream cones?! Here, the large sweet tea is $1 all day every day so we throw three of those in the mix and share them. Oh, and just a tip: if you request it, McDonald’s will give you spoons and little plastic Sundae “cups” for your younger kids to put the top part of their ice cream in so that it doesn’t leak all over the place while they eat what’s still in the cone 🙂

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