Broke? Stop Spending Money on Movie Tickets

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

When your finances get tighter than usual, what’s the first thing you cut out of your budget? Do you temporarily shun shopping or eating out, or do you sacrifice your weekly mani and pedi? Surprisingly, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that even when times are tough, consumers continue to spend on pets and entertainment. Some just can’t do without spoiling their fur babies or splurging on an occasional movie or night on the town.

The Bureau points to Consumer Expenditure Survey data that was gathered from 1934 to 1936. The survey shows that even during the Great Depression, entertainment spending comprised 5.4% of each household’s budget. Things were no different during the economic downturn in 2008. The BLS says entertainment spending during the recession made up 5.5% of total household spending (roughly $2,385 per household).

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently took a look at entertainment spending among U.S. households. Several factors were analyzed, including the impact of age, income, and education on spending. Expenditures were broken down by costs such as fees and admissions, audio and visual equipment and services, pets, hobbies, and other entertainment equipment and services.The findings revealed that as education increases, so does entertainment spending. This can likely be explained by the fact that those with higher education levels tend to earn more.

When it comes to entertainment spending, most consumers spend their money on audio and visual equipment and services. In 2013, households spent roughly $964 on these purchases. Spending on pets and toys comes second, with household spending totaling about $594 for the year. Third was spending on fees and admissions for events such as sporting events and movies.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

If you find yourself in a financial bind, here are few tips for getting back on track with your budget. Here’s the first hint: cut back on your entertainment.

1. Seek alternatives

You don’t need to see every movie as soon as it hits the theater. You may even find that you like primetime television dramas just as much as some of the latest movies. Try watching some movies at home. If you really feel the need to get the full theater experience, go on days or at times when the prices are lower. Many theaters have reduced-priced tickets for early-morning shows. Some employers even offer discounted movie tickets. Check with your human resources representative to see if your company has a perk like this.

2. Don’t spoil your pets

Does your dog really need to go to the spa? Really? If you’re experiencing financial difficulty, save that money and place it in an emergency savings fund. You might also want to think about ditching the pet daycare and holiday pet outfits.

3. Get an accountability partner

Get a money buddy who can hold you accountable for your spending. He or she can assist you with exercising restraint (and some common sense) when it comes to making purchases.

More from Personal Finance Cheat Sheet: