Great article. I have been swapping cinema trips for 'family film nights' for a few months now, saving a fortune. You buy drinks and popcorn for a fraction of the cost from the supermarket and I even sometimes buy the new release DVD and then share the cost with a friend who does the same thing, so you're not waiting for ages to watch new releases. Far from feeling 'poor' by doing this, I actually feel better for not being ripped off by the cinemas!
Exellent article, Lisa. Hope people read and take action. For those of us who are older we don't have too many places to cut. Don't eat out, don't go to movies, don't have cell phones, never bought a magazine from a rack (except when Woman's Day was $0.02 at the check-out in grocery store), but we sure can see how many people are extravagant . We have to spend our money on prescriptions! I have cut out one since starting SP!!! Thanks for good articles!!!
This article and the responses got me thinking! I don't think it was intended as the be-all and end-all of saving money, just a few lighthearted suggestions for other ways to enrich your entertainment life without spending a lot of money. (And thank you, to the person who volunteers and uses the community garden -- you gave me a lot of great ideas!)
Some comments have emphasized the higher cost of doing things like going to plays or concerts, or learning to play an instrument. Like everything else, there is usually a high cost and a low cost way to do anything. Going to plays or concerts? High cost = buy a ticket; low cost = go on a preview night or volunteer as an usher! Learning to play an instrument? High cost = buy the instrument new and pay for lessons; low cost = buy the instrument used and get a self-teaching DVD or CD-ROM from the library.
One other note, for library users who want audiobooks, a lot of libraries now have a service that lets you download audiobooks and keep them for a few weeks just like a regular book. It's called OverDrive. Check to see if your local library has this service!
I think the most important thing about this article is: there are many things you think you could never do without but in truth they are just a habit that's uncomfortable to change but after a short time you don't even miss them.
I think it's important to remember that all of the suggestions, both what you can stop doing and what you can start doing, are just that. Nobody says you have to do any of it, but there are possibilites.
(Actually, I'm doing most of them already: no tv, no buying music, less than one cinema visit per month. It's great - I have friends who'll loan me DVDs to watch on my computer; I'm lucky enough to live in an area with beautiful walks; there's the college nearby with 500 000 books and I have sparkpeople.com for no end of exercises I can do at home, or in a quiet corner of the park.)
7/29/2008 9:49:39 PM
Take advantage of your AAA auto club membership and buy theater tickets at a reduced rate! I can get them for $6.50/ticket through AAA. Whereas, in the movie theater, they're now $9.00 here in Boston! Quite a savings!
I thought the author's heart was in the right place - but several suggestions, though enjoyable, will cost more money than the substitute... for example music lessons include travel/gas, sheet music, the instrument ... although it's definitely a fun way to spend time and may let you cut out something else, I'd suggest music lessons for the enjoyment and other benefits, but wouldn't look to it to save money. Here's a substitute that won't cost (much) money, free if you have an mp3 player and an internet connection: podcasts! I used to buy large quantities paperback books and magazines to read on travel, and nowadays I can rest my eyes and listen to a wide range of free shows instead. And it takes up less space in my travel bag!
A lot of great ideas, however I disagree with several things mostly the magazine thing. I am amagazine addict and one of my favorite magazines is SUCCESS magazine...it's all about motivation and positive things...so don't judge all magazines like a rag mag please. There are some really good ones out there...Oxygen is another favorite of mine...I have these magazines sent from the states to New Zealand now that I moved here...They help me with motivation, inspiration, and ideas!
I think the article offered some great ideas and good places to start thinking about saving some money or trying new things. Not every article is for everyone. I'm not sure how many of the ideas I'll try, but it certainly encouraged me to think outside the box a bit. There definitely is kind of an "urban tilt" to many of the articles on Sparkpeople, but I still find the information to be interesting and useful.
I've found there are a couple of magazines that I REALLY like so I spend the $20 on an annual subscription rather than $60 buying them each for $5 every month on the newsstand.
Also, many used bookstores have a trading credit program. I take my used books back to the bookstore and then I get credit to purchasing another used book. Not quite as cheap as the library, but a good option for those of us that enjoy the bookstore experience.
When you cut out the things you don't really depend on anyway, you have more money to do the things you really do want to do. No one's saying you have to follow all these tips, but thinking about them can get you started on coming up with ideas that DO fit your lifestyle and location. After our first daughter was born my boyfriend and I honed our spending to the things we really want, and now we have extra savings for when we feel like treating ourselves... and we are in no way upper class or even middle class, really. We also live in a rural area, so traveling is an issue for us, too.
We enjoy food and cooking a lot, so we cut down our grocery bills by buying in bulk whenever possible, clipping coupons, eliminating brand loyalty (we just buy what's cheapest, unless it's something where it really makes a difference), not buying any junk food, and only buying snack food we can get in bulk (raisins, nuts, produce). Not only are we eating healthier, but we're saving enough money that we can afford to go out to eat once in a while when we want to. Or, instead of going out to eat, we get little containers of things from a deli, make sandwiches and cut up some veggies, or even get some cheap takeout, and have a picnic. If we really want to save some cash, we volunteer at local farms on the weekend in exchange for free produce. I haven't bought onions, garlic, or potatoes in almost three years because of that.
We have also minimized our entertainment expenses. We do thing outdoors for fun, most of which are free or really cheap, like hiking, walking, going to the beach. We visit free places (art museums, history museum, science museum, sculpture garden all have free days or discount days) and go to the discount theater if we really want to see a movie. We also volunteer and join local groups related to our interests--it gets us outside, helps us meet other people, and is fun, too. The Running Room has free running clubs, we joined a local vegan group, we use meetup.com to find outings. We also visit free programs at the library, nature center, and parks and have done everything from catching birds with the Audobon Society to listening to free concerts at the bandshell.
I don't know all about the latest movie and I can't give you details on the newest episode of Gray's Anatomy, but I can tell you all about the state parks nearby, all the things I learned about farming while volunteering, and I have stories about building a house for Habitat. I've caught birds, I've had picnics and bonfires with my neighbors, and I've learned to love a lot of activities I never thought I would. I don't worry about gas prices because I drive a fuel-efficient car, I don't drive unless I need to, and I don't spend money on anything unnecessary, so I have plenty left over for the things I want.
Instead of relying on television, movies, and MP3's to placate ourselves, we should be enjoying the simple things that life has to offer, the myriad of inexpensive or free activities that await most all of us if only we took advantage of them. We don't need all of these gadgets and technology to fill our lives--we need only look to our own hands and feet.
7/18/2008 7:51:11 AM
Eating out, for me, is a real treat & we only do it 3 or 4 times a year, although I occasionally go for a coffee with my daughter.
We don't have TV at all. I live in the UK, so we save by not having to pay the TV licence fee.
We watch films at home when they come out on DVD. Last year, my husband treated himself to a digital projector & a 10 foot screen, so we get the whole cinema experience in our living room. I haven't yet worked out how much per view it will end up costing us, but the more films we watch, the cheaper per film. (As a side note, Twister was the first film we watched JIBBIE49).
I tend to agree that this article is not applicable to everyone but there will be people who will be able to use the info included.
Liza, I always enjoy your articles. They are always well-thought-out and sensible. In fact, I look forward to reading them. Your points here are certainly valid, but there's something to be said for quality of life, as well. Everything in moderation. We actually ditched the home phone that we never used and now just use our cellphones, which saves us $40+ each month. I'll look forward to your next article.
If people "chose" to live "out in the country" where you have to drive miles to do anything, then that is their chose and transportation is high. I understood what you are saying about cable verses going to a dance class. I don't have cable because my children watched too much of it. I rent movies and share them with the neighbor, who does the same for us so that saves 1/2 the cost of a rental. There are a few movies that you just NEED to see "on the big screen." I waited to get "TWISTER" and watch it at home, and when that COW went sailing across the screen, it just did NOT have the same effect on my 27" TV as it would have had at the movie theatre.
7/16/2008 1:29:11 AM
I agree about the article not being very helpful. This article is not at all helpful for the people who are already poor or broke. It's only for people looking for ways to cut back to compensate for higher gas prices and inflation.
1-I only have cable because it came bundled with my internet and I did it to save $10 dollars a month. Without the cable, I'm paying and extra $7 plus tax for just the internet. 2-I already don't buy magazines. I have one subscription that I got for $6 for the whole year. 3-I buy most of my music off itunes which is cheaper and I only buy artists I Really, really like. 4-My cell phone bill is as low as it's going to get. It's the only phone I have, and I still never go over my minutes. It helps since everyone I know is on the same network as me. 5-I never buy popcorn at the movie theatre, I mostly go only the summer, usually someone else pays for ticket because they take pity on me for being so broke, and it's not something I'm willing to give up given how infrequently I go. 6-I rarely eat out because I can't afford to. My dining out budget is $15 a month. 7-And I buy clothes about once a year. I'm in the minority as far a most statistics go. We are often overlooked.
7/15/2008 10:46:09 PM
I already do all 7 of these and I'm still poor as crap. Looks like this article was targeted solely to middle- and upper-class folks.
SparkPeople, SparkCoach, SparkPages, SparkPoints, SparkTeams, SparkDiet, SparkAmerica, SparkRecipes, DailySpark, and other marks are trademarks of SparkPeople, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
SPARKPEOPLE is a registered trademark of SparkPeople, Inc. in the United States, European Union, Canada, and Australia. All rights reserved.