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Twelve Months To Financial Fitness: Entertaining At Home

If you’ve been staying at home lately, you probably realize you are saving A LOT of money on entertainment costs, but you may be getting bored. For this month’s Twelve Months To Financial Fitness, we share some fresh new ideas for entertaining at home to keep everyone happy—and keep money in your savings account.

If you missed any of our previous articles in this series, feel free to read through them at any time. We are getting closer to the end of the year (and the end of the series), so make sure you don’t miss:

Analyzing Spending
Creating A Budget
Preparing For Taxes
Paying Down Credit Cards
Creating A Will
Storing And Protecting Sensitive Documents
Budgeting For The Holidays

Why It’s Important
We all work hard, and the best way to give ourselves a mental break is to unwind and have some fun with friends and family. Unfortunately, many people unwittingly spend more than they plan to on entertainment expenses. It can be difficult to keep track of entertainment costs when you make “in the moment” purchases. If entertainment expenses aren‘t part of your budget, you may not realize how much is being spent each month. If you don’t have an entertainment category in your budget, or if you are worried you are leaving some expenditures out, here are some typical costs that you should keep track of under “entertainment”:

Trips to the movies, theater, concerts, sporting events, etc;
Streaming video services, electronic movie rentals;
Classes like paint and sip nights or cooking classes for couples, etc.;
Music, books, or hobby-related supply expenses;
Anything else you regularly spend money on when enjoying your spare time.

Entertainment costs should generally make up 5-10% of your budget, but this number may vary depending on your lifestyle.

If that seems like a small amount, we have some ideas for saving money by staying at home.

Home Entertainment For Adults
If you don’t have kids or need some kid-free relax time, here are some ideas just for you:

Take a virtual tour of museums, aquariums, national parks, or other attractions. Virtual tours are generally free or offered for donations, and it’s a great way to explore venues you would normally not see. With virtual tours, you can explore international attractions from your own home – without the cost!
Learn a new hobby. There are so many free tutorials online now to learn anything from music to arts and crafts, home improvement, automotive repair, etc. This is a great way to learn a new hobby, without the cost of an in-person class.
Join a club. Clubs can be a great (and free or low-cost ways) to enjoy something you love (like books, board games, puzzles, movies, etc.) and socialize. Many clubs are now operating virtually through video calling or group chats.

Just For the Kids
Keeping the kids entertained can be a huge hassle and expense. Below are some ideas to keep the kids entertained (depending on their age levels) while you focus on other things:

Decorate their room. This can be a fun activity for them and an opportunity for them to clean! Redecorating can be as simple as rearranging furniture to creating new artwork for their rooms or repurposing old toys into decorations. They may even get adventurous and try to sew their own curtains or build and decorate their own storage boxes.
Put them in charge of one meal a week. Rather than making this activity seem like a chore, encourage them to make it fun by coming up with menus and themes. They can even learn some skills by budgeting for their meal and helping you shop for the ingredients. If they are old enough to cook, they can be in charge of preparation as well.
Kids-only movie marathon. Have your kids pick several of their favorite movies or movies they want to see and then set the videos up to watch. They can make popcorn and drinks, or even turn the living room into a kid-friendly fort for the night.
Start a business. Help your child figure out what skills or interests they have and how to turn that into a small business. Make them responsible for making flyers for marketing, budgeting for expenses, and creating the product or performing the service. As their business grows, they will become more motivated (and occupied).

Fun At Home For The Whole Family
Even better than adult time can be fun as a family. It can also be costly. Here are some ideas to keep the family fun going, but costs down:

Research your family tree, history, or culture. There are many online tools to help you research your family’s ancestry and culture. You can also encourage your kids to ask relatives for family stories. Help your kids put together a family tree, history scrapbook, or even create their own family crest.
Plant and tend a family garden. Gardening is a great way to relax and spend time together. There are many vegetables, fruits, and flowers that you can grow no matter what season. You can even create an indoor garden to save space or avoid bad weather. Each member of your family can have their own section to pick whatever they want to grow and be responsible for (with your help).
Family spirit week. Like in school, you and your kids can come up with themed ideas for each day of your spirit week. The themes can be silly (wacky hair, PJ day, 70’s clothes, etc.) or family-oriented (favorite family vacation, dress in traditional cultural garb). Anything goes! Invite family and friends to join your spirit week and share photos!
Make a family time capsule. Find a box and have each family member pick a few items that are special to them to place in the time capsule. Then, either bury the capsule for someone to find in the future or put it away with a reminder to pull it out in the far future and go through again with your family.

The Challenge
For this challenge, commit to a whole month (or even just a week) of not spending money on entertainment. Plan ahead in case you need supplies for your activities, but even then, stick to spending as little as possible. See how long you can go without spending anything on entertainment. At the end of the challenge, take the money you saved and put it into savings for a future trip or activity that you (and the family) have dreamed of, but haven’t had the funds to do.

Pro tip: Repeat this challenge often, and you could have enough saved for your dream adventure in half the time of saving normally.

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