The Cost of Entertainment

The average American family spends around $3000 a year on entertainment. This is of course just the average’ for upper middle class families (say $100,000 a year income) the number is closer to $6000 a year. For us we would prefer to be closer to the $250 a month but realistically we are closer to the the $500 a month.

So what are we spending our entertainment budget on and what does it cover? Firstly it doesn’t include any food purchases. Mainly it’s “stuff” as well as things like cable TV, movie trips etc.

We used to pay a lot of money for cable in our previous life. We now spend about $40 a month for basic internet streaming cable equivalent. We went with Playstation Vue, but there are others such as Sling, Fubo etc. The beauty of these services is that they are no contract so can be cancelled at any point. We also have our Netflix account, plus paying $15 a month for a la carte HBO. We spent a lot of time determining what we should keep and not keep but in the end we decided that it was worth the small extra expense to give our family access to movies. With a teenage daughter it’s important to keep her in the loop culturally, so she doesn’t feel out of touch with her friends.

In the pre-streaming days we used to spend a lot of money on DVDs. We have barely bought a DVD in the last 3 years so that expense has stopped. When we lived overseas we often didn’t have access to movie theaters or cable TV so we would import and buy a lot of movies. We don’t do that now. Movie theaters are expensive so when we do go it’s usually on a Sunday morning when it is $5 a ticket. We also never get concessions as cinema food prices are massive rip offs. Typically now we wait for it come out on streaming or if it s a movie we want to see we rent from RedBox for $2.

We also spend $16 a month on a Spotify premium account for our family. This has meant we have not bought any CDs for a while. Again this is beneficial to the kids as well as us.

A lot of our other entertainment costs is just stuff. Toys for kids, books, games etc. I used to spend a lot of money on books, that expense has cut right down as we use the library a lot more now.

I have spent quite a bit on board games in the last 6 months as I have got into that hobby more. I’m sure I will buy more, but it’s likely that cost will drop down a bit in the next few months. You need some hobbies in retirement and investment is required in most hobbies. Be it playing an instrument or sports.

Games can be expensive, and while it is important to support small local stores we do mix it up with online retailers and Amazon as well.

It always feels like entertainment is an area we could cut down on expenses in, however I do feel there is no point being retired if you don’t enjoy life. Sitting around all day doing nothing is no fun it’s also unfair on the kids. We are very conscious of the fact that us being retired doesn’t make the children resentful for things and give them a fear of missing out.


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