Friday, October 24, 2008

thrift thursday: that's entertainment

So. Um. Remember when I was all, "I'm going to post ideas for thrift every Thursday"? And then how yesterday my blog was all "......"? Yes. So somehow the entire day just evaporated before my very eyes. I found myself on the computer last night thinking - Well, it's 11:50. If I post in the next 10 minutes I can still make it a THURSDAY post. And then I realized I was insane and I kept working on well, work.

So that's how I came to be doing Thursday's post on Friday. Not that you really need to know ANY OF THIS.

When I first started thinking about thrift, I was struck by the huge spectrum of improvement - people spend money on varying budgets, with varying needs. What may seem like the easiest thing to change for one person could be considered IMPOSSIBLE to another. I think the whole entertainment area of the budget makes these kinds of differences even more blatantly polarized. To that end, I'm reserving an area of ideas for Beyond - where Beyond is usually along the lines of building a yurt in the middle of a forest and consuming berries for the rest of your life. Sound good? Great. Let's get going.

For this week's subject, I've got a laundry list of ideas from you guys, and not a whole heck of a lot to add for myself. We went through the whole budget trimming before Alice was born, and the first area to get cut was Entertainment. The beauty of it all is that I hardly notice the changes. Having a baby does wonders for your social life, let me tell you. Where once upon a time we'd see a movie every few weeks, we're now VERY happy if we actually find 90 minutes to sit as a couple, enjoying the silence. How's that for a first crazy tip: HAVE A BABY - WORKS WONDERS FOR ENTERTAINMENT SPENDING.

However, there were a few of you who had some solid, good ideas:

- Serenity Now (who I hope, hint hint, will comment from time to time, hint hint) emailed me ideas about using the public library. Most library systems not only allow you to check out books (for FREE), but also books on tape, music, videos, and DVD's. Our local library system in King County has a fantastic website where you can check on the availability of titles and even reserve them - all online. One of my favorite features is the ability to have a title transferred to the library closest to you, thus cutting down trips in your car. Genius! Serenity Now also suggests that you check with your library to see if they offer books and movies that you can download directly from their website. This isn't a feature that I've checked for our own library, but it sounds fabulous.

- We spend about $15 each month on Netflix. And The Wife likes to joke that Chip and I are the customers who make it possible for the rest of the world to use Netflix cheaply because we forget about our DVD's. ALL THE TIME. I don't know how or why it happens, but we'll get a DVD in the mail, watch it (or not), and then it just sits there: day after day, racking up the rental fees. In the end, it's like we're buying these movies outright without the ability to, you know, KEEP THEM. It's ridiculous. And Chip and I have vowed to stop this behavior. That, or we're getting rid of Netflix altogether. Possible annual savings of $180.

- Buy used. Used books. Used CD's. Used DVD's. We try to purge our music, book, and DVD collections regularly. We're usually left with a healthy stack of items we'll never watch/read/listen to again. So we pack 'em up and head to our local Half Price Books. They go through our items and then give us a nice cash prize for our trouble. This not only saves money, but is a beautiful kind of recycling that I just love: knowing that something that gave me joy can go on to help someone else. If you're all kinds of slackerly (as I have been known to be about certain things), and you have a tough time setting aside the time to head to the used book emporium, load up your items in the car and keep them in your trunk for a time when you ARE out and about and can take the extra time to stop. Just be careful about packing that stuff around for another 3 months, AS I HAVE DONE.

- Scour your local newspaper or city magazine website for calendars of events. There are ALWAYS ideas in there for things to do, many times for FREE, which is right up the alley of someone who is trying to spend less. If you have kids, you can also check the websites of local children's magazines. We have a couple here: Seattle's Child and ParentMap Seattle. Both of these are great resources for things to do.

- Read aloud to your kids, to your honey, or just READ. A relatively inexpensive past time. Can even be FREE when using the library or borrowing books from friends.

Today's BEYOND idea:
- Get rid of television. Shut it off. Cancel your cable (or satellite or whatever means you use to view the tube). Decide that you're done with it. We are (gulp gulp GULP) on the cusp of just this. We can save upwards of $50 (and more) a month by cutting the cord. Television watching can become a much more intentional event where we watch a DVD (see Netflix issue above). I don't think we'll miss it all that much, actually. We can get our news from the newspaper and the web. We can watch the one or two TV shows that we like online, when we're ready, when we have the time, when we'd like to relax and watch a show. I think that we can easily become slaves to the TV schedule, to it's noise, to it's familiarity. I want to see how it will be to live our lives independently from the box. I'll let you know how it goes.


Alice said...

i think i need to have a kid in order to cut out the tube... i'd need something else time-consuming and entertaining to replace it ;-)

Kristi said...

I just started going to the library as a way to cut back, and it's awesome.

I don't think I'm strong enough to get rid of the tv. I need it. I love it.

tearese said...

I went for several years without watching the tv unless someone else put something on...but then I got married. Even then I did really well with not watching except on weekends....but then I was home alone until joseph got home at Midnight. Even then, I didn't turn it on until 7 PM (and it helped that we only got four channels)...but then we moved here where cable comes free with our apartment and I watch way too much Sci Fi, BBC America, and PBS. I don't know what we'll do when we move and have to pay for it. Could I live without Dr. Who?
Whom I dream about every Saturday night after watching the show?