When did having fun become so expensive?
Many people equate the amount of fun they are having with the amount of money they are spending. Reducing the costs of fun does not limit your fun, just your spending.
Maybe I am just a product of my childhood. Nowadays parents drive kids from horse camp, to gymnastics, to sculpting, to a soccer tournament and back again. Back in my day, free time was spent bouncing a ball off the roof or finding novel ways to melt action figures (and snuff was only a nickel!)
Fun doesn’t have to be expensive. I actually did have more fun melting action figures than I did at horse camp. I challenge you to reevaluate your fun habits and think about reducing the costs of fun.
Ways of reducing the costs of fun
1) Go out mindfully.
After a tough day at work, it is tempting to go out and be entertained. After all, you’ve earned it. The last thing that you need is to make dinner and a pile of dirty dishes. Better still, maybe you can hire a sitter, take in some entertainment, and take your mind off your troubles.
Woah there, Spendy McSpenderson, think about the costs! Before you know it you have dropped a couple of Benjies on a week night and didn’t even get what you wanted. The next day you’re over-tired, your wallet hurts, you realize that your babysitter is a kleptomaniac, and all you can remember is that your steak tar-tar was under-cooked.
Reducing the costs of fun doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go out; I am just saying that you shouldn’t go out on an impulse. Have a plan so that you will get what you want how and when you want it. Take advantage of any good deals that your planning might enable. For example, I know to look for an awesome pricks fixey deal that my favorite fancy restaurant offers occasionally.
A note on foodies: “Being a foodie” is not a hobby. (“Oh, you like to eat good food three times a day, how unique! I want to learn more about that.”) Despite your instagram feed, you are not doing anything. Going out to eat regularly is the absence of doing something.
2) Reducing the costs of fun at events
It is common for people drop a couple hundred dollars on tickets to a sporting event or concert. This is fine, so long as it is worth it to you, but when it comes to reducing the costs of fun, you have options.
Saving on big ticket events
If you are determined to see the Backstreet Boys reunion tour, think about how you can cut the costs.
Go to the box office and skip the service charges if possible.
Avoid the pricey parking. Take public transportation, carpool, or park far away and leave time for walking too and from the venue. Besides, the hectic parking lot exodus tends to give me rage blackouts.
Take pictures instead of buying souvenirs. They will last longer than a T shirt or foam finger.
Bring your own food and drink. I like outdoor orchestra performances – the program doesn’t matter so long as I can overeat and fall asleep in the grass. I also like Phillies games because I can bring in my own food and drink. Just make sure to read the rules carefully about what containers and items are welcome.
It is fun to be part of a crowd witnessing a spectacle, but are there any events that you would enjoy that are cheap or even free?
Parades: My wife and I love going to parades together. We have camped overnight before major parades, gone to weird esoteric parades, and participated in pet parades. Parades are as fun as demonstration marches without all the bothersome caring and more pizzazz!
Museums: When you are an old fart like me, museums are fun. Whatever your into, there is probably a museum for it. Most museums use neat events and performances to get people visiting, so join the email list for museums to keep track of neat events and promotions.
Minor league sports: My favorites are minor league baseball and hockey. You can see some great games for next to nothing. These smaller events usually involve less hassle. If you take your kids to a minor league game instead, you might be able to get them the glasses and braces they have been nagging you about.
Community events: Most of your neighbors don’t want to talk to you, but the ones who will can be found at free summer concerts, screenings, ice skating, chili cook-offs, etc.
Professional baseball: I can see four Phillies games for the price of one Eagles game. I love the Eagles, but I would still choose the four baseball games.
Opera: I had to put this in because I am an opera fan. The last performance I went to was the Philadelphia Opera Company’s production of Carmen, and I got tickets for $15 each. We went early to catch the brief lecture on Carmen‘s history. It was definitely more memorable than seeing a movie.
3) Make something.
Making stuff is, in my opinion, one of life’s great pleasures. Exploring your creative side is a great way of reducing the costs of fun.
I like to do little woodworking projects, but you might like photography, sketching, graphic design, sculpture, knitting, composing music, baking or whatever.
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4) Be a joiner in reducing the costs of fun.
I am not saying that you should become a colonial-era furniture builder. (You should become a joiner, it is just off-topic right now.) I’m saying that you should get involved. Find like-minded people and join in. Think about volunteer groups, political organizations, recreation leagues, foundations, clubs, lodges, etc.
If you join a softball league, knitting circle, or Friends of the 18th Avenue Drain Inlet, you will probably have to pay some dues or help out it different ways, but think about all of the fun you can get out of it.
5) Re-think vacation.
People think about expensive vacations like they are buying memories – as if failure to take the entire extended family on a cruise will result in a one-week memory blackout for everyone in question.
Memories are not made by corporations, they are made by people and a costly vacation is not always better. You are not responsible for taking everyone somewhere pricey every year. In fact, if financial stability is questionable, you are being irresponsible in not reducing the costs of fun.
Take the family on a camping trip to a National Park instead, and spring for a zip-line or high-ropes course on the way there. Whether you are in an all-inclusive Caribbean resort or in a national forest wilderness area, the memories you make are up to you.
Reducing the costs of fun might mean having a stay-cation. Stay-cations need not be lame, explore things in your region that you have never experienced. Schedule something fun for every day of your stay-cation, so that you won’t feel like you are missing out.
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6) Spa yourself.
My wife loves spas. She leaves a spa bruised, scalded, and with an idiotic grin on her face. I don’t really get it, but I do get her ingenuity in bringing the spa experience home. When she can’t go to a real spa, she and her sister set up a spa at home with big tubs, gallons of ointments, mimosas, foot massagers, etc. They gripe about how cheap and useless I am and have a grand old time.
7) Reducing the costs of fun: exercise
Exercise can be fun in itself and increases your ability to do fun things generally.
If you feel like going to your expensive health-club is a drag, stop going, and cancel your membership. Bicycle, take hikes, join a basketball league, start a rowing club, or join those Tai Chi weirdos that meet in the rec. room of your building.
8) The world is your playground.
The world is still free (for a limited time only). Enjoy it. Take a nature hike or walk around a historic district. Play bocce ball in the park or take up disc golf. Go stargazing or visit natural wonders. Teach your dog to fetch or let her teach you. Learning to enjoy the world is essential in reducing the costs of fun.
9) Perform a Hobby transplant.
If you absolutely love an expensive hobby, don’t give it up unless you have to. On the other hand, performing a hobby transplant might mean reducing the costs of fun while keeping the fun itself:
Related link: “25 Most Expensive Hobbies to Have”
Skiing or snowboarding becomes snowshoeing: I love snowshoeing and I can do it any time there is snow on the ground for free. Snow shoes are really cheap and many recreation areas recommend free trails for snowshoeing.
Golf becomes hiking/photography or disc golf: If just walking around in natural beauty seems a bit listless, challenge yourself to take some great photos or to toss a piece of plastic into a net thingy.
Racquetball becomes free tennis or pickle ball: I have never seen a free racquetball court, but my area is lousy with free tennis courts. Maybe do racquetball only when the weather is poor.
Sailing your own boat becomes sailing a rented boat: Why not have all of the fun of sailing without all the costs of owning a boat? You can try different boats, skip the maintenance, and save a fortune on storage and transport.
Scuba diving becomes snorkeling
Ski diving becomes not ski diving: Just don’t do it, psycho.
Polo becomes lawnmower lacrosse: Admit it, lacrosse on a riding lawn mower makes as much sense as playing field hockey on a horse.
10) Turn your home into a…
Your home should be a place for fun. Game nights and dinner parties are great, but don’t be afraid to think bigger.
Think about that guy you know who turned his garage into a sports bar. Sure he spent a lot initially, but how much is he saving? (Nothing! Because his dirt-bag friends drink all the craft beer and leave him with Schlitz!) Ok, bad example.
Think about where you like to go and spend money. Why not occasionally turn your home into a casino, restaurant, movie theater, concert venue, night club, ping-pong league, underground stick-fighting arena, karaoke bar, etc. If your guests reciprocate, you will all be saving big.
Reducing the costs of fun conclusion
In reducing the costs of fun, you are not limiting your experience. By reducing the costs of fun you are improving your financial health, or maybe spending the same amount on fun and just having more of it. Cutting back in one category might mean that you can spend more on the activities that really excite you.
Any great tips for reducing the costs of fun?