Look over there beside your couch. Do you see that stack of magazines? The ones that you receive and have every intention of reading, but then get stashed away in that stack. That stack that every few months you carry to the recycle bin. Ya, those magazines. They’re a waste of your hard-earned money. It’s not that I have anything against magazines, it’s that I speak from experience.
I used to be an avid PEOPLE magazine subscriber. It was my “I don’t have to think, I can relax and read about all of these celebrities and their lives” indulgence. I don’t know what changed – maybe it was kids, school, work, volunteer duties or just finding a new way to relax. All I know is that I found myself no longer reading them as fast as the weekly subscription was arriving. They stood in a stack waiting on me to have free time. By then, it was no longer fun. The stack daunted me. It mocked me, “oh, you’re too busy to flip through and relax with us, are you?” It was overwhelming. It wasn’t until I got a renewal notice that it hit me how much money I was literally recycling. I cancelled.
Have you had a similar experiences? Whether it be your unused Netlfix® subscription, too many channels on your DVR, apps you purchased or subscribed to but never used on your iPhone®, or maybe the gym you never quite get around to visiting, each of us has that form (or forms) of entertainment that just isn’t of value anymore.
According to a midyear update – July 2012 through June 2013 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average American (those who make approx. $65,000 annually) spend $2,586 of their annual earnings on entertainment. That equates to about 4% of our annual earnings. Note that everything that I personally would call entertainment related expenses in our budget was not included here – such as restaurant dining as it was included in food costs.
I know quite a few people in my age group and younger who would definitely fall into the “above average” category. I’m sure we are spending way more than 4% of our annual income to entertain our families if we really dug in and added it up. We are constantly needing something to do. Movies, concerts, sports, gyms, books/magazines, restaurants, and electronics – you name it and we’re accessing it.
If you’re trying to reduce spending (and seriously who isn’t?) it would behoove you to take a good look at easing up on your entertainment needs as well as the costs associated.
Here are some ideas to start your entertainment re-evaluation:
• Newspaper or Magazine subscriptions
• Cable television (How many channels are you really watching?)
• Telephone (Do you really use all of those features?)
• Gym memberships or classes
• Subscription services (Are you still hanging on to that Weight Watchers subscription or maybe you’re not really watching the DVDs Netlfix® mails you?)
• Book purchases or “rentals” (Make a plan to check out your local library.)
• Dining out (Can you limit this to less days per week?)
• In app purchases – these little boogers get my family and me every time! Utilize the parental controls to make sure you have “approval” as some of these can really be sneaky.
• Satellite radio (Perhaps go with your MP3 collection instead.)
• Travel (Staycation, anyone?)
That all being said, if you are actually using it or finding value-added in any of these expenses and your budget can handle them then by all means keep them. I was sure we had nothing to cut other than PEOPLE magazine. I was wrong. We slimmed down a few features here and there and saved ourselves almost $60 a month.
What “entertains” you and your family?
Where can you cut back?
What did you discover when re-evaluating the entertainment category of your budget?