Save on entertainment without getting bored

When it’s time to cut your budget, one of the first things you may look at is your entertainment budget category. Food and gasoline are high on the list of absolute needs, but entertainment may not seem to belong with those needs.

But it is important to enjoy your life. It’s important to relax, reward yourself, and build morale for yourself and your family, so that you can take on harder challenges and tasks. What’s key here, in deciding to spend less, is to be smart about the way that you entertain your family. Instead of cutting entertainment out of your budget, it’s more effective to replace that entertainment with less expensive alternatives. Here’s what you can do:

Study your spending. Just as we discussed with your food expenses, it’s time to look closely at your entertainment spending. Where do you go, and how much money do you spend? Are there specific places or triggers that lead you to spend more than you planned? If you don’t already track your spending, start now.

Brainstorm alternatives. Now that you know what your entertainment habits are, it’s time to think about ways to replace expensive habits with free or less expensive options. Also talk to friends and family members for ideas.

Here are a few ideas for saving money and changing the way you entertain your family:

Opt for a matinee or rent a movie. Plan your weekend by watching an earlier show and saving on ticket prices, or stay home with a rented movie and save on snacks.

Search for free or inexpensive events. Movies in the Park programs, art openings, sporting events, plays, and other events happen all the time on Guam, and they are great options for your family and friends.

Take up swimming or running. If you have an expensive gym membership that you’re not using very often, and you want to cut costs, it may be more cost-efficient for you to exercise without it. You can run on your own or join in with one of the island’s weekend 5K runs, or you can take advantage of Guam’s beautiful bays for a daily or weekly swim. If you’re worried about exercising less without the membership, invite a family member or friend along to exercise with you.

Explore a different beach every weekend. Instead of taking your family or friends to places where you are tempted to spend money, try exploring Guam’s beaches. Take the proper safety precautions and try to learn about each beach in the week before you go. Freeze water and pack snacks or lunch beforehand, and bring along a soccer ball, volleyball, and books or magazines to help you enjoy the morning or afternoon.

Take your vacation closer to home.  There are beautiful islands right here in our region that can give you a relaxing getaway and help you save on airfare. Explore Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, visit the jellyfish lake in Palau, or swim with the manta rays in Yap. Travel to Japan and the Philippines are also relatively inexpensive from Guam, compared to other destinations, and they offer great travel experiences. You can even save on airfare by taking a vacation right here in Guam.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years experience in retail banking and with financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at moneymattersguam@yahoo.com.

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