Swap It, Don'€™t Stop It: How to Spend Less on Things You Love
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Entertainment

In 2013, Americans shelled out $2,482—or about $200 a month—on entertainment alone. If you’re a sucker for an awesome amusement park, concert or comedy club, these alternatives can help you save.

  • Visit a local fair. Instead of shelling out pricey amusement park entrance fees, which can cost anywhere from $50 to more than $105 for a one-day pass, check your city calendar (and nearby cities, too) for local county fair schedules. They typically offer rides, games and shows for a fraction of the price—usually around $10. If your schedule is flexible, visit the fair’s website for mid-week discounts.
  • Check out local talent. If live music is your thing, take a break from $47+ big concert tickets and try smaller shows sponsored by bars or local radio stations. Tickets are far cheaper—usually a $5 to $10 cover—and the food is usually better, too. Some restaurants and hotels also host monthly music residencies, where you can listen to the same singer or band play on the same night each week for free.
  • Opt for open mic night. Whether you love poetry readings, comedy acts or rap battles, look for open mic nights in your city. While some are free, others may ask for a small donation or require a drink minimum, but it’s still likely to be a relatively low-cost outing.

Vacations

According to a Travelex survey, Americans plan to take at least one vacation this year—and spend a total of $2,041 on it. If vacations are how you most love to spend your cash, that figure may be even higher. Outside of taking advantage of tweets and apps that scout out travel deals, there are a few ways to enjoy a fun-filled getaway for less.

  • Research budget-friendly destination alternatives. For just about any locale on your bucket list, there’s probably a more affordable—yet just as satisfying and memorable—destination worth visiting. For example, if you’re craving a city getaway with lots of old charm and culture, skip Paris this time in favor of Montreal. Or if you’re after a tropical beach vacation, consider the Dominican Republic or Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, instead of Hawaii. Thanks to cheaper accomodations and plane fares, you may even get to stay longer.
  • Take an epic train trip. If you like cruises because you can visit multiple destinations on the same trip, try a land-based alternative and go by train. For instance, on Amtrak’s Cardinal route, you can explore Chicago, Cincinnati, D.C. and New York City on a single train trip. Bonus: Since cruises usually have set rates for package deals, with an average of $1,799 for an eight-day cruise, you’ll also have more control over how much you spend.
  • Go on a staycation. How often do you get to be a tourist in your own city? To unplug without spending much at all, challenge yourself to an eventful staycation. Ride along that new city bike path, hit up all the best ice cream shops in town or spend hours in a museum you’ve never visited before.

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