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Entertainment on a budget

Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 12:08 p.m. CST

As a continuation of last week’s column on budgeting, I want to cover entertainment. I was asked by several people, “Don’t you have to miss out on a lot of fun opportunities because you’re worried about your budget?”

The answer, in one word, is no.

Do I miss out on opening night for movies? Yes.

Do I pass on going bowling if it isn’t the night for dollar games? Yes.

Do I skip out on all-night bar crawls most of the time? Yes.

Am I missing out? No.

Here are some of the things that I like to do for fun, usually completely free or extremely cheap. I’ll give you a hint: almost all of them involve public spaces.

Afternoon at the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge? Free.

Picnic at Grey’s Lake? $5

Spending an afternoon walking along the Des Moines River in downtown? Free.

Touring through the farmer’s market? Free (if you have incredible willpower).

Spending a date-night in with a bottle of wine and a movie? Less than the price of one movie ticket.

Saving enough money to be able to afford something I’ll really enjoy and treasure, such as tickets to 80/35 this July? Priceless.

It is all a matter of self-control and perspective. If you feel miserable about the fact that you can’t go out with your buddies and spend $30-plus at the bar, you’re going to have a bad time. If you look at it as an opportunity to catch up on your reading or if you can convince them to stay in and hang out for the price of a six-pack, you’ll be better off.

Let your money work for you. Don’t let those dollars get carelessly strewn about until there is nothing left in the reserve for what you really want to do.