As a student, you're probably on a tight budget. However, this doesn't mean you have to miss out on discretionary things like entertainment. With a little research, you can save on your recreational and social life without blowing your budget. Here are some ways to stay entertained without giving up everything you enjoy doing.
"Essential" vs "non-essential" entertainment
Consider what you might label as essential entertainment and non-essential entertainment. One way to tell the difference is if you can easily find a close or similar alternative for free or for a much lower cost.
For example, tickets to concerts, plays, and movies could be considered non-essential, as could pay-TV and other subscription services. You could watch similar concerts and plays online, and enjoy movies on free-to-air TV. Similarly, by switching from pay-TV or cable to streaming services like Netflix, you can enjoy similar content for a fraction of the cost.
Another way to figure out the difference is by exploring your preferences. Books and music could be essential entertainment for you while eating out once a week could be essential for your friend. By working out what’s important to you, you can better prioritize your entertainment spend.
Research your options
Some of the most rewarding entertainment options can be inexpensive or even free. Start by borrowing books, ebooks, and movies from the library. You can read millions of books for free online at sites like Internet Archive and Project Gutenberg. You can also borrow games, audiobooks, and music from the library. If it's a beloved book or movie you have to have, look online for second-hand copies to save some cash.
Check local publications and sites for free events and attractions. Public concerts, street fairs, and free-admission museums are some of the things you could check out. Zoos, aquariums, and cultural venues sometimes host free-entry sessions. Some events offer free admission if you volunteer, but usually, you'll need to keep busy with clearing away rubbish, helping attendees, and checking tickets at the same time.
If you read a lot of books, listen to a lot of music, and stream a lot of shows, look out for all-in-one subscriptions like Amazon Prime, which gives you included video, music, and books in addition to free shipping for shopping.
If you're eating out, check out local restaurants for specials nights. For example, some eateries will offer half-price mains on quieter days like Wednesday and Thursday.
Take advantage of discounts and trials
A lot of activities offer discounts for students, so check to see whether your student ID can save you some money, whether it's for a movie, theme park, or restaurant. Scour local papers, supermarket receipts, and websites for coupons for eating out and discounts on local activities.
Similarly, some services offer free trial periods. Amazon Prime offers a free one-month trial, as does Netflix, so you can easily get months' worth of free movies, music, and other entertainment options for free.
Other ways to save on entertainment include clubs where you can pay one-off annual membership fees for discounts on things like movie tickets, concerts, meals, and more. You can also look out for discounted gift cards for eating out, music, movies, and games. With these, you pay the discounted price for the card but can redeem the full original value when you buy the movie ticket or pay for your dinner.
Some telcos and other service providers offer customer perks like discounted movie tickets and cheaper day-trip tickets. Examples include Optus Perks and Telstra Plus.
Music streaming services like Spotify give you access to huge libraries even if you're opting for the free, with-ads subscription option, and students currently get three months of Spotify Premium for just $0.99.
70% of empty nesters have more disposable income once their children leave home. There is no harm in asking if your parents can pay, especially if it’s a cheap subscription!
When it comes to entertainment for students, you can save money without making big sacrifices and missing out on the fun. By doing research and a bit of planning, you can save cash for essentials while still having fun with friends and family.