Thursday, May 10, 2007

Category 3: Entertainment

Entertainment is a difficult category for me to both define and track. Many entertainment expenses are paid in cash and don’t involve a receipt, so after a hard night of drinking it’s difficult to remember how much a bloody mary cost at that dive bar or how much I tipped the cute bartender. Still, I try, and my entertainment category is divided into 3 subcategories, home entertainment, entertainment while out that involved drinking, and general entertainment out.

My home entertainment has lately consisted of my cable internet bill. I don’t own a television and rent all of my books and DVDs from the small library in my town. My gym membership is prepaid, but even if it weren’t, it’s subsidized by work to be a mere $6/month, so it likely wouldn’t break the budget. I do include my home beer and wine purchases in this category, but they are only for when I have visitors, which is rare. I go for a lot of walks and just don’t really have a lot of entertainment expenses when I’m at home.

Entertainment with drinking is something that I only do with other people, and thus really only do while traveling. I’m not a heavy drinker, but there are occasional binge nights. It’s hard to account for these nights because, as mentioned above, they are mostly cash transactions, there are no receipts, and I was obviously drinking at the time. These nights can get expensive, so I’m trying to watch my money more carefully this month, but luckily (for my budget) these nights are few and far between. I really separate out this category just to see how much I could save by not drinking, but I have no plans to quit.

Entertainment without drinking is another category that I really only do while traveling and usually do with people. It can include things like museum tickets, kayak rentals, or fair admission. It’s usually a little easier to track than drinking, but also not a category I use a lot.

Overall the Entertainment category is very difficult for me to predict, but hopefully with a little more time patterns will emerge. It’s obviously tied to my travel and visitor schedule, but other than that, I’m at a loss. I should probably aim to spend less than $200 a month, because $2500 in a year is a lot of entertainment.

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