This post is part of The One Hour Project, in which you can spend just one hour to put your finances in a better place without a big lifestyle change, through frugality or other financial choices.
About six months ago, my wife and I were going through our DVD collection looking for items to clean out. As we did this, we rediscovered a pretty nice little pile of about twenty five DVDs or so that we deeply enjoyed but had found their way to the recesses of our collection. Rather than watching new movies for a while, we decided to go through this pile, watching a few movies a week until we had rewatched these old favorites.
So that’s what we did for the next two months. We cuddled up on the couch and rewatched Citizen Kane, My Man Godfrey, Arsenic and Old Lace, and so on (yes, we’re both big fans of old movies). The only expense for many evenings of fun was the energy to run the DVD player and the television and the cost of many bowls of homemade popcorn.
During this period, not only did we not buy a single DVD, but we also cancelled our Netflix subscription. We realized we already had more than ample entertainment, and if we got a strong desire to watch a specific new release, we could just rent it locally. Our entertainment budget dropped significantly.
We had so much fun doing this that we’ve since done the same with our book collection, rereading a big pile of our old favorites and even “bookclubbing” a few of them, where we read the same book at roughly the same pace and talk about it. I now have a pile of about twenty five books on my nightstand just waiting to be read – and they were all found in our book collection.
This provides three separate financial benefits. First, it keeps me from buying more media – I have no reason to buy more books for enjoyment (or even get them from the library) with a pile like that on my bedside stand. Second, it increases the value of the books I already own – getting several more hours out of each one makes them a more effective purchase. Third, it provides a very inexpensive and simultaneously very fulfilling activity to fill my time – not quite free, but pretty close to it – because a big stack of books to read often encourages me to read more than I would otherwise.
Here’s what you do.
Dig into one of your media collections and pull out twenty five items that make you excited when you see them. This can be books, DVDs, videos, CDs, old magazines – whatever you have a significant collection of. You can pull out more than 25, of course, but don’t pull out the majority of the collection, either (unless you’re deeply passionate).
Then, over the next few months, spend time enjoying the items you picked out. Read those books again (or maybe for the first time). Watch those DVDs. Listen to those CDs. Reread those old magazine articles. Just enjoy this stuff you have during your ordinary leisure time.
What happens? You’re suddenly making your leisure time far less expensive than it was before, while at the same time getting serious enjoyment out of things. This means a big savings in the pocketbook without giving up the things you enjoy.