The old saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” is a simple statement of a very powerful truth about human nature and mental health. Without the release that some form of entertainment provides, we can develop a number of debilitating conditions both physical and mental. Entertainment provides a stress release that keeps our blood pressure down and reduces the chances of stroke or heart attack. A mind that can balance the necessities of the day with the fantasies of narrative indulgence can better balance itself and withstand the hardships life can throw our way. Even a frugal lifestyle needs some play in the day, some form of entertainment that allows these healthy benefits in without destroying your budget.
The most popular form of modern entertainment takes the form of television. Whether our tastes run to movies, serial episodes either dramatic or comedic, documentaries, or sports, television can provide them all. But the problem for the extremely frugal minded is that since over the air transmission of television waves has ceased, we must think in terms of cable delivery. This is a rather expensive way to get our entertainment. There is also the inherent problem of having to pay for too many channels and programs that we are not interested in and do not want. The most common justification for having cable television in your home is to couple it with a high-speed internet connection.
Don’t try to say that a frugal person doesn’t require the internet, there are just too many ways to learn how to or to make or save some extra money on the web. But the question is, do you really need that high priced cable. DSL runs quite fast enough for just about any internet need. Even an account with only 3 megabytes of download speed can stream video as smoothly as cable transmission.
Now lets look at some of the entertainment possibilities if you give up cable and just go with the internet. If that television experience is what you want, investigate some of the streaming video sites. Some, like Hulu, offer free access to movies and television shows in exchange for looking at the advertisements on their sites. My personal favorite is still Netflix. You can try out a free trial of netflix from offer sites like couponloco.com. While you do not get the absolute newest episode or movie, for a mere $8.00 per month you will still have access to thousands of movies and hundreds of television shows offering multiple season’s worth of entertainment. All the major networks and some of the cable channel networks provide streaming of select current episodes. Sports enthusiasts can find many places where the game is streamed either live or prerecorded.
The DSL connection you get will include a land line phone to go along with that internet connection but you can drop the cell phone and keep in contact with local swap groups, food banks or second-hand shops.
The other, and more old-fashioned form of entertainment a frugal person should indulge in, is books. Your first and largest money leak when seeking entertainment in books is the cost of them. You need to learn patience if you must actually buy books by a special author. Rather than spending $20.00 to $30.00 on a new hardback, wait a while and find it for 50 cents in paperback in a couple of years at the second-hand shop.
You can even avoid the expenditure of that used book if you make it a habit of perusing your local free library. There you can usually find copies of the latest release from your favorite author. You may have to get on the list and wait your turn, but that is usually much quicker and more sure than waiting to see if it turns up in the second-hand shop. Still, there is a potential money leak even using this potentially free resource. You must make the effort to return all books (and DVDs as well) on time. Habitual procrastinators can find themselves spending more in late charges and fees than if they had gone on and bought the book in the first place.
By looking dispassionately at the different ways to bring entertainment into your life, you can find ways to keep this essential facet of life from overtaxing your budget. It also helps train you to keep up with things on a day to day basis.