A frugal and fun way to cut back on your entertainment budget is to stay home with family or have friends over. Many times over the years my family has done this not so much to save money but because we had very little extra to spend. Now that we are a little better off, staying home is still popular option because it has become a frugal habit. Some of these might seem hokey or old fashioned but hey, they work for us!
We love to watch movies, so this is usually one of our first choices. Between our collection and our kids collections we can usually find something we already own to watch if we really don’t want to go out. Otherwise I will order movies online through our local library or we will head up to the local video store or closest Redbox. There are also lots of options to watch a wide variety of content online.
Play Board Games
Pick a night to pull out and dust off those board games. It’s been my experience that if I liked it years earlier most likely I will still like it today. If you are looking for something new try your local department store or look online. Boardgames.com offers several thousand choices.
Pop Popcorn the Old Fashioned Way
This one could, of course, be combined with several others but I wanted it to stand out a little. It seems popping popcorn in hot oil on the stovetop is a vanishing tradition, pushed to the side by the speed and ease of the microwave. Every once in a while it’s worth taking the time and enjoying that taste you can never get from microwave popcorn. Popcorn.org presents short and simple instructions in case you have never popped popcorn this way.
This might be the cheapest idea of the bunch. A couple of decks for a couple of bucks and you are good to go. Some of our favorite games include variations of Rummy, Spades and Poker and a few you might not have heard of such as Holland. If you have forgotten the rules, or are looking for a new game visit the exhaustive index at Pagat.com.
Another oldie but goodie. There is something calming to me about studying the original picture and capturing the image in my mind while looking for those pieces. If you haven’t put together a puzzle in a while, there is a lot more variety out there than photos of sail boats and beer cans. Check out Simplepastimes.com for a huge catalog of puzzles. Garage sales are another inexpensive resource to buy used puzzles.
Listen to Music
I have noticed over the years that many people stop searching for and listening to new music when they hit their 30’s. I imagine it’s because of the cyclical nature of fads and trends, but every decade puts out music worthy of our ears no matter how old we are. We still enjoy listening to our musical collection together and with friends, albeit at a little lower volume than in days past. Try your local library for some new releases.
When was the last time you sat down with anyone you know and just talked? Not because you had to, but because you wanted to both listen and share. Nope, sorry, talking with co-workers at work doesn’t count; this article is about staying home, remember? Give it a try. Music is okay as long as it’s not too loud (see above) but absolutely no TV allowed!
My wife and I love to read, and it’s something we enjoy doing during a quiet night at home. We have a deck in our backyard and a screened in front porch that we love to use during the spring, summer and fall. Cozying up with a good book in the warm house in the winter is hard to beat, too. The library is always a good frugal source for books, as well as thrift shops and discount book sellers.
Have a Fire
I know this one could be rather limited by where you live, but if you have an indoor fireplace or the local ordinance allows you to burn outside it is hard to beat having a fire. If you can burn outside dig a fire pit, use an old truck wheel, or buy a backyard fire pit. This goes along well with the music and talking options above.
Okay, this one might not work for you either, but I’m going with it anyway. We know several people that use their outdoor grills to cook the majority of their meals all year round, even during our cold winters. While we don’t use ours quite that much I have to admit I have grilled out in the rain and the snow before. A great option to eating out, and after a little experience eating at a steakhouse will be a thing of the past.