Tips to Reign In and Out Of Control Family Budget: Saving on Entertainment!

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This is one of the most divisive topics I write about. I am completely serious. Television. Specifically- cutting or lowing your cable or dish package to save money.

This is a big bone of contention for a lot of people who ask me how we live on one income. For some people, they “need their shows“ or they “have to” watch the game every week.

Cable and satellite television is expensive, and now with all of the streaming services in addition to cable, it is conceivable that a family may spend upwards of $300 a month on television. That’s JUST TELEVISION! That doesn’t include movie tickets!

Sit down and gather up the cost of each streaming service and/or cable subscription/dish subscription. Where is there overlapping entertainment?

  • Hulu Plus has a live option, which gives you access to sports, and television shows on the same day they air on cable television.
  • If you have cable that includes the Disney Channel, CBS, HBO, or Showtime, is there really a reason for you to pay for the subscription/on-demand versions of those networks?

If you feel like you are ok with changing your television viewing habits, ditching cable in favor for a few streaming options and over the air television which can be viewed with our digital antenna (which is easy to use/install) and is available for purchase for about $50-$100.

Depending on how strong the signals in your area are, you should be able to receive:

  • ABC
  • CBS
  • NBC
  • CW
  • Fox
  • PBS (We get three PBS channels)

There are additional networks that are available in various areas of the county.  Here in So Cal, we also get:

Plus we get a few more Spanish language channels, and one Korean language channel.

Now that you’ve trimmed/cut the cord, what other entertainment do you see/attend/do? We don’t go to the movies too often, but we have a weekly date night budget of $50. I try to get it out of the bank in cash and if we are going out together, we spend it together, but if we are going out with other friends, or staying home with the kids, I give him half.  If we don’t use it one week, we roll it over to the next week!

images.jpgOne of my other main sources of Entertainment is the gym. I try and go at least 4 times per week for at least an hour.  Other places that you can trim and your family budget can include your gym membership. If you don’t require a gym that has the bells and whistles and lots of classes, you might consider changing your full-service gym to a more budget-friendly or discount gym like Crunch or Planet Fitness. Both of them have extremely reasonable rates, but they don’t offer classes or childcare usually.

If you’re looking at something that is slightly more family-friendly, I cannot recommend the YMCA enough! For our family, we pay $69 a month, and that is inclusive of childcare on-site for both children up to four hours a day (two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon as long as there is a lapse of four hours of time in between the two sessions), we can visit any YMCA location in San Diego County, and also have travel benefits if we go out of town. There are free classes for everyone in the family, on various types of exercise from family yoga to family kickboxing to open gym for the kids two-three times a week.

They have great swimming facilities for spring and summer, and the family swim is available year-round in the large pool at our local YMCA. I also like that they have trained people in the childcare/kids club area that know how to work with kids who have special needs, so I never feel like my big kid will be ignored or be feeling out of place. If you are a local and want to check out the YMCA, let me know and I’ll get you a guest pass!

In the past we had some really bad experiences with 24-Hour Fitness. We were also paying a lot of money to go to 24-Hour Fitness (upwards of $120/month Between our membership dues and the cost of the on-site childcare) and I felt like our fitness goals could not be supported because of the lack of support and education with their child care employees.

I also like that the YMCA offers discounted rates/scholarships for military families (active duty and retired), those with low-incomes, or receiving certain government benefits.

As far as kids’ entertainment, our local community library has us covered over school breaks. Between summer reading programs, spring break events, Star Wars Days, Back To School supply giveaways, and Christmas cookie decorating/Polar Express PJ parties. You would be surprised at all of the cool stuff going on at your local library!

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about how you save money on entertainment!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies! (Egg Free)

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Yummy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

I had a can of pumpkin open the other day and I decided to make cookies. Part of the show that hubs is in has a scene where all the characters eat cookies on stage. They had been eating Madeline’s, which are super tasty, but high in calories.

So I opted to bake something a little lower in calories. I also made the cookies quite small (1 tablespoon, instead of two), to cut down on calories.  I added pumpkin instead of the eggs and some of the fat to lower the calories and add fiber and fruit.

In keeping with the spirit of using up what we have in the house, I also used only brown sugar, as we were out of white sugar.Lil’ Man was a big helper- He added the chocolate chips and helped scoop the dough onto the cookie sheets. He’s going to be a Master Chef yet!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c butter (or use vegan margarine if vegan), room temp
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c flour (I used AP, but feel free to use wheat or even 1 for 1 gluten free)
  • 3/4 c. almond meal
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash salt
  • 2 c. chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the first 4 ingredients until smooth using a hand mixer on medium.
  3. Add remaining 4 ingredients until a soft dough forms, using hand mixer on low, or by hand with large wooden spoon.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Drop spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 9-13 minutes.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

Variations: This recipe is east to make as vegan, just sub out butter for the solid fat of your choice. To make GF, sub in GF flour of your choice.  To make it nut free, omit the almond meal and increase the amount of flour to 2 cups.