Leisure and Entertainment
It used to be that simply surviving—farming, making clothing, providing shelter and food—took up so much effort that there wasn't much time or energy left for anything else. There was no need to exercise to promote good health. Just living provided all the exercise that was ever required!! And, on the rare occasions that work could be set aside, a nice barn dance filled the leisure and entertainment needs.
How far we've come! Most of us spend so much time sitting that we have to schedule exercise, We also have so much leisure time that we've made musicians, sports players and movie stars rich beyond our wildest dreams. We're willing to pay big bucks for entertainment to keep them in the style they've grown accustomed to. In fact, the average American is willing to spend over 5% of their after tax income on entertainment every year. That's more than $2600.
With so many things that we HAVE to spend our money on—the fixed expenses, we usually only really have wiggle room on the variable expenses. We look at leisure and entertainment as one of those areas. We want to show you an example of how to reduce leisure costs.
Leisure can be divided into two categories: active and passive. Physical activity is active leisure. It is fun and relaxing but offers many health benefits. Though physical activity may not seem to relate to saving money, it certainly does relate to your quality of life. And if we consider the rising cost of healthcare, anything we can do personally to prevent injury, illness and to reduce stress will reduce our own medical costs and hopefully the taxes we pay to cover health care costs.
This list is for all those who've ever said that they can't afford to exercise. These are little strategies that have worked for us—ways to increase activity that don't cost a cent:
- If you can walk to your destination then do. Leave the car parked. This also saves gas money.
- Use the stairs not the elevator. You won't have to wait; there isn't a big crowd using the stairs.
- When you use a parking lot, park your vehicle a little farther away from the entrance. You won't have to fight for parking spots.
- Clean the house more often and with more enthusiasm. Housework burns calories and your house will look nice.
- Spend more time outdoors in the garden. I've found that there's no shortage of things to do and you'll get fresh air and sunshine.
- Get off the couch and exercise while you watch a favorite television show.
- Turn off the TV. Unless you have a nap, you'll probably be burning more calories doing anything other than sitting on the couch.
- Assign your children outside chores, and then help them to complete them--exercise and family time.
- Actually use some of the sports equipment you have lying around the house--basketballs, soccer balls, baseballs and gloves, tennis racquets, etc.
It doesn't seem like much but little things make all the difference. A few calories here, a few calories there, it all adds up. These suggestions will help you to burn calories, not money!
We are fortunate to have lots of leisure time in our country. This is good and also bad. Our lifestyle is much more sedentary these days and we can see the resulting health problems. Most of us seem to prefer passive leisure activities: television, card games, reading, barbequing, entertaining friends, etc. These aren't exactly activities that get the heart pumping. It's time to get moving again but we don't have to run to the gym; we can find ways to incorporate more exercise into every day. It doesn't even have to feel like exercise!! (Use caution before increasing exercise. You may need to speak to your doctor first.)
P.S. The eighth chapter of our personal finance book: Power Spending: Getting More For Less, is about saving on Leisure and Entertainment. There are just two main sections: Leisure and Entertain me(nt). We talk about leisure activities, both passive and active, and ways to fill our leisure time with free or low-cost activities. We classify entertainment as leisure time activities that we observe rather than do or participate in. Again there are hundreds of ways to be entertained without having to break the bank. We share our ideas with you, including turning hobbies into money making opportunities.