3 Effective Ways to Stay Entertained Without Blowing Your Budget

If you’ve ever visited a dietary expert to get tips on how to eat well, you might have been told, “Everything in moderation.” After all, unless you have a health problem that makes it unwise to consume certain foods or ingredients, it’s usually okay to indulge in favorite treats from time to time. Moderation is also a key principle when it comes to staying entertained. Luckily, in that case, moderation doesn’t equal boredom or feeling like you’re missing out.

Use Gift Cards to Keep Spending in Check

Gift cards are quite convenient because they usually don’t expire. Also, you can buy them to use towards certain types of entertaining merchandise or services. For example, if you want to treat yourself to going to see a new release at the cinema but hate the stunning realization of how much you typically spend on treats at the concession stand, purchase a theater gift card. Keep the specified amount in mind as you get some movie treats, and only use the gift card to pay.

Splurge Occasionally, and Especially When Warranted

Some people become so dedicated to frugality that they try to make the principle extend into every facet of their lives, including entertaining diversions. But, far too often, they take frugality to mean complete deprivation. Going back to the example of dietary moderation, consider how it’s probably okay to eat a small piece of chocolate cake after dinner, but you probably shouldn’t have three.

There are some occasions when splurging is definitely okay, especially if you’re purchasing certain items. Maybe you’re about to go on the trip of a lifetime with a spouse but only have the low-quality camera on your phone to use for taking pictures. In that case, it might be a good idea to think about buying at least a moderately priced digital camera that’ll see you through many more memorable occasions than just that single trip.

Determining when to splurge isn’t easy, but it usually becomes simpler when you prioritize what’s important to you. If you thoroughly treasure photographs from years past because you love the memories they trigger, the digital camera is a smart investment.

Have Healthy Expectations

Setting realistic expectations about what you want to get from entertainment-based spending is also crucial. That’s especially true when you’re doing something fun that has an element of chance, like gambling. There are many places where you can gamble in person, but online casinos are also rising in popularity. No matter how you choose to try your luck, remember that winning isn’t everything.

It certainly feels great to win, but you might feel the exact opposite after suffering a crushing loss during a card game. When you’re focusing on having fun and not on winning, you won’t spend more money than you can afford.  Gambling with a friend who is also trying to have fun while maintaining the right mindset could also stop you from spending more than you planned.

As you can see from these tips, it’s definitely possible to have a good time in reasonable ways without draining your bank account. Start practicing them today to live well without feeling deprived.

5 Monthly Expenses That Can Be Reduced in a Single Afternoon

In order to make ends meet and save money for extras, you have to treat the family budget like a family business. That means keeping an eye on your finances month after month and regularly evaluating ways you can cut costs. Believe it or not, there are a number of things you can do relatively quickly to reduce expenses and continue to reap the rewards over the long-term.

Rack up significant savings over time by taking an afternoon to thoroughly assess your budget and make a few adjustments.

Monthly Expense: Utilities

The Fix: Find a Provider With Better Rates

More and more areas across the U.S. are transitioning to deregulated energy markets. A deregulated energy market is one where locals can choose their own provider rather than having to use a supplier that’s selected by the city. This is great news for budget-conscious families since you can get electricity for a lot less – if you take the time to research.

Folks that live in deregulated energy markets can go online, compare available plans and choose power providers with the best rates. Studies in Texas have shown that consumers that fail to comparison shop end up paying more than those that research rates before selecting a provider.

Monthly Expense: Television, Internet and Phone

The Fix: Bundle Services Together

Some will say that television and Internet service is a luxury and they’d be right. But if you work from home it could be a real necessity. Not to mention that TV and Internet entertainment is a lot more affordable than going out. If it’s been a while since you compared your current plan to available offers now is the time to see what else is out there.

One of the easiest ways to get the best deals possible is bundling the services together with a single provider. Typically, providers offer special rates when customers combine television, Internet and/or phone service. Even if you don’t want or use a home phone it could actually be more cost effective to bundle all three together. Another bonus of bundling is it makes bill payments easier to manage.

Monthly Expense: Insurance

The Fix: Keep Your Provider Up-to-Date

Insurance is an intangible expense. Each month you’re actually paying for peace of mind that you’re financially covered if something were to happen. You pay the bill and pray you don’t have to make a claim.

Getting insurance premiums reduced by as much as 25% could be as simple as updating your information. For example, installing a home security system can lower your home insurance premium. Other updates that can get your insurance premiums reduced include:


  • ·  Educational attainment
  • ·  Going an extended period with making a claim
  • ·  Improvements on your credit score
  • ·  Adding storm shutters
  • ·  Installing a interior sprinkler system
  • ·  Improving the electrical system
  • ·  Completing a drivers course
  • ·  Moving to a gated community
  • ·  Retiring at age 55
  • ·  Using gas and water sensors around the house
  • ·  Installing impact resistant roofing


Review your insurance policies at least once a year to make sure they’re still suited for your circumstances and as affordable as possible. If you use numerous insurance providers you may also want to consider bundling your policies together with one company.

Monthly Expense: Late Fees

The Fix: Set Up Auto Payments

Late fees have direct and indirect costs. You’ll be hit with an additional expense right off the bat, but your credit score could also suffer. When that’s the case it makes borrowing money even more expensive because you can’t get the best interest rates.

The easy fix for these problems is to put bills on auto pay. Almost every service provider and credit card company lets customers create an online account where they can include their bank’s information. Once the bank information is verified the provider can then automatically withdraw the payments. Bill management is much easier and you won’t have to worry about late fees.

Monthly Expense: Savings

The Fix: Use Auto-Debit Features

It’s a lot easier to save money if it’s never in your checking account. Ask your employer if the payroll department can set up an auto-debit so a small chunk of each paycheck goes directly to a savings account.

Another way to save without really trying is to use a roll over option. Many debit card providers will allow you to round a purchase up to the next dollar and put the difference in a savings account. It’s basically a virtual penny jar that’s even easier since it’s automatic.