Netflix. End of post.
In all honesty though, I’ve been getting some serious backlash for suggesting that someone living in New York City could keep their entertainment spending under $100/month.
For clarity and context, I propose a $100 entertainment budget in my most popular post, “How Much Do You Need to Live In New York City?” – the purpose of which is to demonstrate that the cost of living (even in NYC) is far more reasonable than people assume, and far less than reported averages… if you want it to be.
So yes, of course you can spend more than $100 on entertainment each month – easily. But you can also spend less – easily. The point is, there are more than enough opportunities available to live well on any entertainment budget and limiting yourself to $100 for monthly fun is far from impossible, especially in New York City.
At an average of $5-7 per cocktail, I can afford to indulge in happy hour weekly- bonus when there’s a food special to go with it. With ample low cost happy hour opportunities, I’ll admit it’s easy to get carried away and make a habit of post-work drinks, so I also institute the occasional at-home happy hour, which works out to be even cheaper (and an entertaining way of cooking dinner).
Happy hours aren’t the only entertainment specials to enjoy- lunch specials, weeknight specials and event specials abound – particularly in cities with multiple venues on each block vying for business. Check out Time Out’s list of Cheap Eats for NYC bites that are special worthy round the clock.
In New York City, you can go see a Broadway show for thirty to forty bucks using rush, lottery or standing room specials. You can take advantage of pay what you wish policies and special free hours at top museums and attractions to enjoy world class culture free (or almost free) of charge.
Speaking of specials, don’t forget to check your coupons! That’s right – coupons are not just for the grocery store anymore. You can find promos on everything from your favorite late night hot spots to laser tag to kayaking excursions. If you’re stumped for ways to stretch your entertainment budget, sign onto deal sites like Groupon or LivingSocial and type in your location. You’ll likely be overwhelmed by the ample low cost options boasting high entertainment value.
Connect with like-minded folks in your area using sites like MeetUp and Nearify. Events range in cost, but many are completely free – ranging from outdoor movie screenings to scavenger hunts to good old fashioned conversation.
Discover local events, classes and seminars through sites like Eventbrite. Retailers like the Mac Store and Lululemon also provide complimentary community classes at top locations- check the website and social media accounts of your nearest location for schedule information.
If you’re not living in a big city with tons of event offerings, take a look at your local library or town hall website. The “calendar” or “community events” section can prove fantastic resource for finding free and affordable entertainment.
In New York City, the public libraries host free classes daily, ranging from yoga to computer fundamentals. Not to mention all the books, CDs, DVDs, periodicals and other entertainment that can be borrowed free of charge.
I’m a big fan of touring my own town, having spent countless hours winding the streets of the West Village, walking the Brooklyn bridge and biking the Hudson river promenade – I often satisfy my taste for entertainment with no more than a little meandering.
Those who prefer more structure though can enjoy guided tours in cities around the country by utilizing services like those offered by freetoursbyfoot – which true to its’ name offers free walking tours. According to Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews, they seem to be pretty good too.
Whether it’s stand up comedy or baseball, checking out the amateur, semi-pro and even lower cost professional scenes is a great way to enjoy quality entertainment on a budget.
A ticket to a Staten Island Yankees game for example, can cost as little as ten bucks. Catch some improv (and the likely future of SNL) at The PIT or Upright Citizens Brigade. Sample the latest up and coming bands in bars around Brooklyn for the price of a drink or two.
I know not everyone will consider volunteering a source of entertainment, but considering how much giving back is proven to increase happiness, I consider it one of the best forms of entertainment available.
In addition to helping others, volunteering often comes with a host of added perks- connecting with new people, staying active, even advancing career prospects.
Along with free attraction hours, no cost museum days and various complimentary classes, concerts and events – there are many more freebies to be enjoyed with abundant entertainment value.
Google is always a trusty tool with a simple search of “free” followed your location yielding results more often than not. Nowadays tons of websites specialize in rounding up the best freebies in locales all over the map. My personal favorites in NYC are TheSkint and Brokelyn.
So what do you say, do you think you can play it away on less than $100 per month? What are your top strategies for keeping your entertainment budget in check?