What Is Your Entertainment Budget
In this blog we take a look at the difference between essentials and nice to haves when it comes to spending on entertainment and entertainment budgets.
Today it’s getting increasingly hard to track just how much we spend on entertainment – be it services like Netflix or Sky, or other things like nights out or takeout, for some, identifying the difference between ‘entertainment’ and ‘essentials’ can be tricky. Glean whatever insights you might about the state of living today, but it is certainly true that the lines between the two are blurred.
Identifying ‘Essentials’ and Saving
In this search for the essential versus the occasional, we’ll first look at the bills that go out, every month without fail, for our entertainment. The most common of these is for media, and the most common media at the moment is for TV media. You’ve got Netflix, Amazon video, traditional set top box services like Sky or Virgin – all of these could definitely constitute an ‘essential’.
But how do we save money here, and what do we put aside money for? It’s obvious to budget in any bill that will automatically leave your account, but could you cut down on one service and find alternative ways to get the same entertainment?
For example, if you have a set top box package like Sky as well as Netflix, could you save by canceling Sky and routing Netflix through your main TV with a laptop or other plug-in device that you already have? If money is tight, these kind of ‘alternate routes’ can help.
The Additional – The Expensive
On top of the services we pay for, there’s a lot to be said about the numerous other things we spend on. If you need to refer back to a previous budget you have made, or if you feel you should start writing down your additional entertainment expenses, it’s best to start as soon as possible. You can very easily do this by writing it in a notebook and transferring it into a spreadsheet, or by keeping your receipts.
Nights out, buying things online, and everything in between can rack up bills of their own that we don’t budget in at the start of the month – so in your situation, it could be worth monitoring this. In some months you may spend more, and in others less – so having an estimated amount and putting it aside could help balance those expenditures and not leave you in an unforeseen crisis.
Once you have this figure, it could even help you start saving for something bigger – if you know what your ‘additional’ budget is for entertainment and stick to it, it’ll help you avoid chipping into money you’d otherwise be able to save.
Two Budgets – One Goal
So if you want to follow this idea, you’ll need a pair of monthly figures for what you spend. The first being the fixed figure, the amounts that go towards your direct debits for entertainment services. This is easiest to manage, and with some minor technical skills – can be lowered if you wish.
Your second figure for more occasional entertainment expenses needs to be based on research, so this may take a while to build up. Recording your expenses over a year, six or three months may help you get this figure, and even may open your eyes to how you are spending without realising.
But once you have these figures, it should be fairly easy to stick to them. Avoid problems by keeping your direct-debited account filled with the right amount every month, and potentially save by allocating your additional entertainment budget gradually, as and when you need it, and keep the leftovers.
Budgeting is about self-control, good record keeping, forward planning, and often some specific smarts. None of these are particularly hard to master, but the skills combined can really help. The easiest way to work out how to combine them is through experience. Try it yourself.