One of the most powerful tools that I have found to truly lower my spending and increase my rate of saving is to set myself up with entertainment avenues that do not require much reoccurring expense. Examples of this would be investing in things that can provide you with entertainment to keep you content at home, without needing to go out. Going out almost always equates to expensive, and that hinders us from achieving our goals, like saving a ton of cash or paying down our debts.
For me, this is things like video games, a quality computer, a couple musical instruments, Netflix, good headphones for music, a deck of playing cards, etc. Once you have acquired a few items like this (it can obviously vary from person to person), you can cut out a large chunk of unnecessary entertainment money from your budget. I am currently in a situation where for about $0-$10 a month depending on various subscription prices like Xbox Live or Netflix, I can stay completely entertained every evening for basically no cost. It costs me nothing to play my guitar. It costs me nothing to write. It costs me a very small amount to play video games, to watch Netflix, and to listen to music.
I kid you not, and I am embarrassed to admit this, I had a phase where I went to the bar EVERY evening after work. Usually for at least a few hours. Not only was I drinking too much, but I was spending an astronomical amount of money on the jukebox! I added it up one time, and in July of 2015, I spend around $350 on the jukebox. I know how crazy that sounds, but it is true. Average a little over $10 an evening, almost every evening for a month, and that is where you end up. That is not including beer, food, gas to get there and back, that is JUST on the jukebox. That is INSANITY. I cut that out real quick, but it still serves as a reminder to me how out of control entertainment spending can get.
Once you get to a place where you streamline your bills and expenses, and you reduce your discretionary spending, you can start finding literally hundreds of extra dollars a month to save, invest, or do something productive with. I challenge you to try to take whatever amount of money you spend on entertainment per month, and cut it in half. Stash the other half in the bank, and only spend half. Or, spend half on something that you will get reoccurring value out of. Something like a game, an instrument, or something that is not an overpriced meal or alcohol. Something that will be there the next day. You will be AMAZED. Get to the point where you have invested in a few ways to stay entertained at home for either no expense or a very small expense.
I’d be willing to bet that most people could easily find a couple hundred dollars a month that they blow on stupid stuff that does not last. Instead of going out Friday night and spending way too much at the bar, invite a few friends over, B.Y.O.B., and play some cards and listen to music. Your wallet and bank account will thank you. Find contentment in small things. Savor memories and friendships. Live below your means.