The Matter of Entertainment—the Frugal Way

At first glance it may appear that entertainment has no place in the frugal life. The common view of frugality involves using only what you need, and the common wisdom is that we don’t exactly need entertainment like we need food and shelter. But that is simply not true. While it is true that water, food, warmth, and shelter may be more pressing needs, all human beings need entertainment. Just to bring home what an essential need it truly is, we can look at animals. If you have ever seen a bored dog or cat you know what I mean. And if they need amusement that badly, surely we must as well. The need for play is inborn.

Hummingbirds Provide Hours of Nearly Free Entertainment

So what is a frugalista to do in a world of expensive canned entertainment? The first step, as always, is to know what you truly value, and more particularly, what is fun for you. The answer may be surprising, and surprisingly inexpensive. And it may combine well with something that you already are doing as part of your spending plan. For example, I love to cook and I have to eat. So every so often I plan a fancier home-cooked meal than usual. I get to play a little, show my skills, and the results don’t get wasted. Of course that is just an example. It could just as well be building things or gardening. The idea is to have fun doing something useful.

On a slightly different plane, how about making art? Pottery, painting, or playing music. All are more or less inexpensive depending on the field. Writing costs absolutely nothing after the pen and paper. With music it depends on the instrument, but once you have it its good for years of fun. Art supplies are can be had for a few dollars. Once you get good you might want to strut your stuff, play an open mic or be part of a show. Going social just ups the ante.

There may be opportunities for fun all around you. In my town they just had a big FREE street party, the Hand-car Regatta. Tinkerers brought their old fashioned hand-cars for a race along the rail-road tracks, and the whole town (or so it seemed) turned out, many in Victorian costumes. The only expense was for wine, beer, or food if you had to. There are literally thousands of events all over the country every weekend. Just check the local paper (or the free weekly) to find out where. Or go online and check the websites for local radio stations. Most have local event listings.

If you just want a little company and there is no fair or festival handy, try a neighborhood pub. Have a pint (make it soda if you must, I prefer beer) and join the party. Chat up a friend, or even a stranger. Try your hand at darts. The price tag is usually about four to six dollars. Even if you feel broke it will lift your spirits, and that is well worth the cost.

Closer to home there may be free or nearly free fun right at your doorstep. Even if you live in the city you can watch the wild-life, especially the birds. Our ten dollar hummingbird feeder is a lively place, and very captivating, especially at sunset. For more information check out

Finally, there are Netflix and television. If you don’t watch TV on principle just skip this part. Though the Netflix are still a valuable resource. But, if you do pay for satellite or cable, consider this- it’s already in the spending plan, and usage is unlimited. I am a big fan of the comedy channel, and after a long day sometimes it’s the best I can do.

So, don’t deprive yourself, no matter how thin your wallet is these days. Go forth and have some good old frugal fun! Good times…


5 Responses

  1. Don’t forget the public library! Along with books, many public libraries have a great selection of DVD and audiobooks. Our even has free access to — you “return” the audiobook when it automatically wipes itself from your mp3 player three weeks later. Reading aloud is good family entertainment, too.

    Do you know what else people used to do for entertainment before the electronic media age? Sing. Dance. Good exercise, too.

  2. Helpful write up, bookmarked the blog for hopes to see more information!

  3. Just want to say your article is as astounding. The clarity in your post is simply spectacular and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the rewarding work.

  4. I found a cool thing last year–google “Free Night of Theatre”–it’s nationwide, and once a year. In Dallas, thru the Office of Cultural Affairs. I got free tickets to the Symphony in October, worth over $200! Had to pay parking, got to take a friend–also I’m on their email list now. If you’re near a college, most have free & cheap events. Get on their email list. Live theatre for cheap, often speakers for free. A couple of years ago, a friend found out about Gloria Steinem coming to a University near us; we took a group of 6, all free.

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