This week’s Focused Frugal February is all about Entertainment during COVID. For the last year or so, this has been a vastly different item for everyone’s budget. Perhaps this category has gone way down due to the lack of happy hours and outings over the past year. On the other hand, an increase in streaming services or other subscriptions may have caused this category to stay the same or even increase.

Hopefully, things are going to start changing later this year as more and more folks become vaccinated. For now though, we will take a look at spending in entertainment during COVID.

Streaming Services

For entertainment at home, I’m specifically talking about all of the available streaming services and subscriptions available today. If you wanted, you could have cable, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max and more. Possibly spending hundreds per month on more TV than anyone could watch in a month. The same could be true of book subscriptions, subscription boxes, podcast apps, music apps and more.

What’s the strategy? How to balance all of these options? I know that in our home we’ve debated going back and forth with one option that has a show we wanted to watch versus another. Here’s the magic answer though, you can cancel them and then sign back up whenever you want. If you have something you’re really looking forward to watching on another platform than one you currently have, you CAN cancel one and change for the other. So many time I’ve heard friends of clients say that they don’t want to pay for so many different streaming services. My advice? DON’T.

If you want to add Hulu to watch This is Us for example, take a few months off from your Netflix subscription and swap to Hulu. Netflix will still be there when you want to come back.

As for books, I strongly recommend that you check out Libby. It’s a free app that hooks up to your library card and pulls both audio and digital books right to your tablet or phone. This is one of my favorite apps to use and it’s FREE. If you’ve found that your library’s digital selection is not that great, a quality paid service is Scrib’d (referral link). It has a great selection and is much cheaper than Audible. Unlike Audible, Scrib’d is just a monthly subscription fee and you don’t have to pay for each book you read.

Hanging Out with Friends?

We haven’t been hanging out with our friends in person for obvious reasons, but what we have been doing is virtual Zoom parties. These can be happy hours, game nights with something like JackBox or something else entirely. Last month, the local animal shelter I volunteer with held a virtual party where we even played charades. Sure, it’s not the same as when everyone was able to hang out in person, but it’s so much better than not seeing your friends and family at all.

In the time of coronavirus, it’s easy to feel disconnected, but taking the time to specifically reach out to your friends and family can help. In an attempt to minimize costs wherever possible, it’s also very cheap or even free.

When the World Opens Back Up

It’s reasonable to expect that everything will start to open back up later this year. When that happens, it’s important to note a couple of things.

  1. You or your friends may not be comfortable in going out again as soon as places are open. That’s okay.
  2. Keeping your spending in check is still important.
  3. Not spending a lot of money doesn’t have to be restrictive. Have friends over for pot lucks or chili competitions or any of these great ideas.

Thankfully, with the warmer weather will come more outdoors events. This will allow everyone a bit less anxiety while still being able to see one another. Checking your local area for free (or cheap) outdoors events is a great way to spend a day for little to no cost. I know that our local area usually has concert series and various festivals throughout the spring and summer months. Just don’t forget to mask up before you head out.

Wrap It Up

Whatever your preferred form of entertainment may be, try to be intentional with both your time and your money. You don’t have to have all of those streaming services at once and an hour spent chatting with a friend may be more rewarding than scrolling Hulu. Be sure that you’re using your money as a tool to build the life you deserve while also having fun in the short term.

What are some of your entertainment during COVID ideas? Let me know in the comments below!