One of the areas in which we’ve really scaled back is the area of ‘entertainment.’ We don’t eat out very often. It is very rare for us to actually go to a movie theatre to see a movie. For approximately three years we didn’t have cable or satellite service.
Someone asked me what we do for fun. Given that we live in the middle of nowhere and have very little budgeted for entertainment each month, I think that is a valid question. One that seems to deserve answering on a Saturday when you might be looking for something fun and inexpensive to do.
First things first, one of the few reasons that we now have TV is that Comcast gave us a rather good deal when we made the switch to their cable internet service. Once the promotional period is up it is hard to say whether we will continue to have cable television or not. Before we had cable television, we were able to keep up with many television shows and movies via Hulu. At less than $10 a month Hulu is easy on the budget and while its not commercial free programming, the commercials are significantly shorter than when you are watching live TV. All that you need is cable or DSL internet––something we’ve decided we cannot be without due to schooling, work, etc. Hulu is also nice because it can be viewed via your computer, Roku device, smart TV, and you iPhone or Android device (via their free app).
The downside to Hulu is live sporting events, which are not currently available via their streaming service.
If you are looking for an alternative to overpriced and expensive cable/satellite bills, Hulu might be worth checking out.
Second, whether you realize it or not, there is actually plenty to do, even in the most rural of locations. Our little town of 2,500 residents has numerous parks. Over the last few years, we have utilized these for many a fun Saturday morning. And they are free.
Often, a quick Google search will yield some entertainment gems that you may not know exist in your area. Once again, many of them are free. For example, when we first moved to Mount Union, we heard about the Standing Stone Trail and, in particular, a section of the trail known as the ‘Thousand Steps.’ The scenery is beautiful and in mid-fall, as the leaves are changing color, it is especially breath-taking. And, yeah, it is free.
Another great find was Raystown Lake/Lake Raystown. The lake’s recreational area has a marina, which the kids like to visit so that they can watch the boats. At the marina are fish that the kids can feed (see video). Feeding the fish isn’t free, but the cost is minimal. You can buy feed at the marina’s general store or you can take a bag of dog food with you (a couple of bucks at Dollar General).
In larger areas, there are often museums, art exhibits and the like that are free to the public. On two occasions, we’ve taken our kids to Washington, D.C., to utilize the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History and National Zoo. Both are great because they don’t require tickets and can easily be accessed by way of public transportation.
Third, cooking and/or baking is always a win. If you cook, you don’t have to go out to eat, which is a good thing. More than that, however, it can be a fun, bonding time for the family. Often, Saturdays are pizza days for our family. I’ll mix up the pizza dough and the kids will help to spread the sauce and cheese on the crust before baking. It’s a great way to kill an hour and it is fun and cost effective. (Sundays are risotto days for Crystal and I. After church on Sunday evening, once that kids have gone to bed, I’ll make the two of us risotto. It’s a good stress relief, an opportunity to slow down, and it is a cost effective but delicious meal!)
That’s enough for now. It’s Saturday, so go have yourself some fun…