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By the author of The Faithful Prepper, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices.
Americans are now paying approximately $47/month on streaming services, typically consisting of three different subscriptions (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, and Paramount Plus). Many Americans also have cable TV on top of these subscription services (though that is a trend that seems to be diminishing), with the average cable bill costing around $200/month.
As a Frugalite, that means if you have both the average cable bill and the average streaming services bill, you’re shelling out $564/year on streaming alone and an additional $2400/year to watch your TV. Close to $3000/year just to watch your TV.
Is it worth it?
If you’re taking a serious look at your finances at the moment due to problems with your work, increasing costs at the grocery store, or otherwise, I would highly recommend that you take a closer look at cutting all of these services.
There are plenty of means of entertainment out there that are much more frugal-friendly, either being completely free or cheaper altogether. Here are a few of my recommendations:
Go to the library
We’ve written about this here before at The Frugalite. Reading is an incredibly cheap form of entertainment, betters you as a person, and is often free. Not only will the library have new releases that you would normally have to pay $30 for at your local Barnes and Noble, but there are a wealth of older, difficult-to-find classics available there that you would pay a premium for on the used book market.
Start inviting your friends over to play board games.
The great thing about board games is that they’re a one-time purchase and provide hours of entertainment for the life of the board game afterwards. Personally, I’m a fan of Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, Ticket to Ride: Europe, Quarto, Carcassone, and Wingspan.
Pick up one of those games and start scheduling weekly post-dinner game nights with your friends. You’ll have a much better time with your friends (or making new friends) than you would staring at your TV screen for hours every night, your friends will have a better time than they would have otherwise, and this makes life much richer than a stupid TV ever could.
Play disc golf.
I’ve played disc golf for years with nothing more than three discs: a putter and two drivers. They cost me $7 each, and I’ve gotten the chance to explore some amazing areas with that $21 investment. I’ve thrown discs over (and into) alligator-filled ponds, spent time with family tromping through the woods and gotten the chance to hang out with some pretty cool people.
As long as you know how to throw a frisbee and are capable of a three-mile or so walk, you can play disc golf.
We’ve covered the economics of fishing here at The Frugalite before. Pick up a fishing license, buy a pole, hooks, bobbers, and some stinky bait, and you’re all set. This is a great way to unwind, whether you’re alone or hanging out with a family member for a few hours in front of the water.
You can put some seafood in your frying pan this way, too, so you could actually cut back on your food costs in the process of this form of entertainment.
Call me a nerd, but this is something that I’ve noticed a lot of nearby clubs have been holding online of late. If you have an internet connection and enjoy playing chess, this is something that could hold your attention for hours with nothing more than an internet connection (which you could pick up for free at a local library) and an interest in chess.
(And while you’re at the library, you can pick up books on chess tactics to make you a better player for the next tournament as well.)
Cooking through Southern Living magazine.
These people deserve an award for having the best recipes imaginable. I like what the founder of Chik-fil-A had to say, “Food is essential to life. Therefore, make it good.” You have to eat, so why not cook amazing dishes?
I think that Southern Living has some of the best recipes out there, and if you have a chef’s blood running through your veins, this can be a good way to feed your family as you entertain yourself cooking.
Start a podcast.
This can be done absolutely free. You don’t even need a microphone to get started (though it does help). Set up an account with Podbean and start recording and uploading your audio right away. You can then start cranking out as much content as you want.
Whether you’re looking at a weekly podcast or want to pump out something every night, you can do that by starting your own podcast. This can be a fun way to share your thoughts about literally anything you’re thinking about.
Learn an instrument.
You can pick up a cheap ukulele or Irish whistle for less than $100 on Amazon and be set for years of home entertainment. I picked up a $70 uke (I think that’s what I paid for it) over ten years ago, and it still plays wonderfully.
(If you pick up the world’s most detested instrument, the harmonica, you have to play in your basement where nobody else will hear you.)
What are your thoughts on alternatives to streaming services?
There are all kinds of other options out there. Don’t feel for a second that if you don’t have streaming services at your home, you’re going to sit around like a bored Amish man all day long because that’s simply not the case.
The alternatives to cable TV and streaming are legion, and hopefully, the above will get the gears turning in your head to start thinking about some alternative things you can do.
What are your thoughts? Do you have some tips and tricks we missed? Let us know in the comments below.
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. He runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has three published books, The Faithful Prepper, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.