After I started tracking our expenses, I noticed we were spending a whole heck of a lot on entertainment. Like a WHOLE heck of a lot on money. Our Mint.com account had a depressing number of entries for iTunes, Kindle, Netflix, movie theaters, NY Times Digital Subscription, Audible, and regular old-fashioned paper-back book buying.
And cable. Cable deserves its own paragraph because it was costing us not only a ton, but an actual mountain of money (between $100-$200/month) and dealing with our cable company always left me wanting to pull out my own hair.*
We’ve now reduced our entertainment budget down to essentially zero (the odd Kindle purchase excepted). We canceled Netflix, I’ve ceased buying new music and movies on iTunes, and I’ve also put the kibosh on buying paper-backed books. And * heavens open up and angels start to sing * we canceled cable.
Do we now live a desolate entertainment free-lifestyle, unable to intelligently communicate with our fellow 20s and 30s on popular culture and instead living hermit-like in our joyless apartment?
No, we do not.
Here’s what we replaced our money-costing forms of entertainment with:
- The library. This is the big one. As we discovered, our local library has an excellent DVD selection. It also, of course, has a great selection of books. Mr. Debt Free JD and I just spent an excellent Friday evening kicking back and watching rented movies from the comfort of our home. I also find that I can get all the legal thrillers and mysteries I want from the library.**
- The radio. I finally decided it is foolish to be buying more albums from iTunes when (1) I already have a ton of music — as in more than I can listen to and (2) the radio exists and it is free and available over the internet.
- Free stuff on the internet. My favorite is https://librivox.org/. It’s a large catalogue of free – and legal – audio books (all of the books are in the public domain). I’m listening to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essays on my way to work each morning right now. It’s great.***
- Consuming less media. Here is an actual conversation that happened between Mr. DebtFreeJD and I. I hope you are as shocked as I am.
Mrs. DebtFree JD: Hey, want to go to a bar and watch the World Cup and drink some beer?
Mr. DebtFreeJD: Nah. Why don’t we go for a long bike ride instead?
Mrs. DebtFreeJD: Ok.
This is an entirely unexpected side effect of buying less media. We find we spend more time outside on our bikes, or in our yard, training the dog, or really doing anything other than in front of a screen. And that’s kind of cool.
*Obviously, I am not alone, as this viral Comcast recording demonstrates: https://soundcloud.com/ryan-block-10/comcastic-service
**I think as a lawyer, I’m actually contractually obligated to read these or something. Every other lawyer I know reads these (either secretly or overtly).
***Of course, there’s a lot of pirated stuff on the Internet which is also free – I have an aunt that works in the arts and her opposition to such things has convinced me not to download pirated works.