I am trying to set up a strict budget and wonder how much is normal to set aside for entertainment?
By Sarah H. from Brooklyn
First off, entertainment is important. But it's also an easy part of your budget to save money on. When trying to find the right percentage to set aside for entertainment you need to look at whether other parts of your budget are suffering because of how much you spend on entertainment. For example, if you have trouble paying other bills or are not saving as much money as you want to, the entertainment portion of you budget is a good place to start. Generally, if you can get your entertainment budget to around 5% of you income you are probably doing really well but it depends how much income and monthly expenses you have. Since I don't know many specifics about your budget and income, I will offer some tips for reducing your entertainment budget.
First, add up what you spend for entertainment and make a list of all the different types of entertainment that you and your husband enjoy. Discuss which entertainment is the most important to you and then look for ways to cut down on the expense of that entertainment. Eliminate all entertainment expenses that aren't very important and concentrate on funding what you really enjoy.
From your list, look for ways to cut down on the expense of each kind of entertainment. One way is to limit the frequency. For example, if you go to dinner and movie every week, go every other week instead. Or eat dinner at home before you go to a movie instead of going out. Also, look for cheaper ways to achieve the same results. Rent movies instead of watching them in the theatre or go to the matinee instead of at night. If renting is too expensive, wait until movies are no longer new releases and can be rented for less or request them at you local library. Find less expensive ways to achieve the same or similar result.
If there are big entertainment events that you want to attend, like a rock concert or opera, plan ahead and save money for the event by sacrificing in other areas. For example, cancel cable TV for a couple of months to help pay for the tickets. If you know that cutting down on entertainment expenses in other areas will allow you to attend events that are more extravagant, you may find it very gratifying.
Try to have a positive outlook when creating your entertainment budget. The percentage of your budget that you spend on entertainment shouldn't be seen as a limit, but as an opportunity and a blessing. At the beginning of each month, take the amount of money that your budget allows for entertainment and think about it in terms of "What do I get to do this month?" and not "What do I have to sacrifice?" - Staff
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