Saving and Spending on Entertainment

Did you know that I don’t pay for cable/satellite? Nor do I subscribe to audio, book, gaming, or TV streaming services?

Yes, you read that correctly. These costs add up rather quickly if you have more than a couple, and they should be the first to cut when trimming fat from a hefty budget.

I know it almost sounds like cliché Boomer talk to even mention dropping things like Netflix and pumpkin spice lattes, but there is a bit of truth to it. Minor alterations will not change some of the realistic financial hardships that my generation and those now coming into adulthood are facing. However, there are bits of wisdom sprinkled throughout what some of them are saying. It’s all a part of the bigger picture of financial independence. Each dollar we spend matters.

As I talked about in Buying My Freedom, I have been thinking about starting a series on my journey toward financial freedom. I don’t know where this will lead, but I figured I’d start with a subject that I probably spend too much money on.

In July, I finally ditched both Netflix and the Disney+/Hulu bundle, for a total saving (at the time) of $38/month. It feels a bit like a drop in a bucket, but that is over $450 when expanding it out to a year. If you’re someone who is looking to build a $1,000 emergency fund, that’ll get you halfway there.

Side note: I keep a $1,500 “break glass in case of emergency” line item in my budget. This is separate from my OMGBBQ 3-6 months of living expenses category.

Keeping My Sanity

Five rows of steelbook movie cases attached to a wall.
Steelbook wall in my theater room

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an avid collector of physical media. I am always on the lookout for deals on used VHS tapes, LaserDiscs, and DVDs. I’m also usually one of the first in line to pre-order new releases of my favorite TV shows or upcoming films. I don’t even have an exact count of the collection at this point, but it is in the 1,000s.

What do you do when you see the wisdom of cutting out entertainment costs, but it is also your primary hobby?

I could certainly give up collecting to save more money, but we all need a little something in our life that makes us happy. If I am going to be a tightwad in most matters, I want to at least enjoy the fruits of making smart decisions.

For someone who is a collector of movies and TV shows, it made zero sense for me to continue paying for streaming services. Netflix was even preventing me from enjoying my collection.

I have a general entertainment fund that gets $150 each month. What I don’t spend rolls over toward future spending or for entertainment-related items in my wish list. One of the things I’ve been eyeing is a new receiver for my theater room. The one I have is over a decade old and has seen better days. The less I spend monthly on entertainment, the faster I’ll be able to save for it.

If I want to watch live TV or am too being lazy to get up from the couch to put in a disc, I have an outdoor antenna that picks up dozens of channels. Most of my favorite shows air on The CW, a free, over-the-air network anyway. I also have a Plex home media server, but I will save that story for another day.

My entertainment budget category can be used for books, games, or movies/TV. But, if I’m being entirely honest, most of that goes toward buying Blu Rays or DVDs to add to my collection.

It is my equivalent of a “fun money” line item in the budget, and it is one of the first places I can pull funds from if I fall short elsewhere. Everyone’s dollar amount will be different for this, depending on debt and income levels. I’ve maintained this same $150 monthly funding goal, even after doubling my salary over the past few years.

Not everyone needs to give up Netflix, Hulu, or whatever service they truly enjoy—that thing that allows them to keep their sanity on the path to financial freedom. But, if you’re overspending, you have to make cuts somewhere. Honestly, I haven’t missed paid streaming for a bit, but I love having some extra cash every month.