How Much Should A Couple Budget For Entertainment?

June 1, 2020

How Much Should A Couple Budget For Entertainment


When I was a child, my mother always told me about the importance of budgeting. I should pay my rent, my bills, buy food, and everything else will take care of itself. I’ve been renting for years and I always focused on paying my rent and bills first. Then, entertainment. I was an avid collector of DVDs, CDs, and comic books. In hindsight, I should have budgeted better. So, if you’re struggling with bills, I have tips on how much should a couple budget for entertainment.

Honestly, I’ve only gotten better at budgeting in recent years. In my 20s and 30s, I allotted too much money towards entertainment and hobbies.

I was married at the time and my insistence on indulging in entertainment hobbies annoyed my ex to no end.

This is article is being written from the standpoint of a reformed budget writer urging you to recognize the need to prioritize need over want.

Understand, I’m not preaching to you or wagging my finger at you.

I am stressing that in these hard, economic times, budget prioritization is a skill that must be honed.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most American households spend at least $3,226 annually on entertainment.

Before I explain how much should a couple budget for entertainment, let me use myself as an example.

As an example of what not to do.

Burning Money as a Sacrificial Lamb to Entertainment

I am now in my early 40s. Burning money on entertainment doesn’t have the same appeal it did when I was younger.

I was married for almost a decade. Budgeting must be a 2-way street for couples. But I was so obsessed with entertainment.

In the 1990s and 2000s, I was obsessed with the rock band The Flaming Lips (still am, actually).

They released an experimental 4-CD album called Zaireeka in 1997.

Zaireeka was designed to be played on four separate stereos simultaneously.

I never bought the four stereos, but I considered it. (My ex always told me I was weird. Now I think I understand what she meant.)

Whether young or old, there must be bigger finance priority concerns in life than purchasing 4 stereos to enjoy a gonzo album. (Please appreciate I am making this point within the context of obsolete music tech of the 1990s).

How much should entertainment matter when you have limited finances?

I owned 4,000 comic books, collected over a lifetime, but later gave them away.

My CD and DVD collections numbered in the hundreds.

I was obsessed with films and international cinema. Before CDs and DVDs became obsolete I would visit retail stores to find international, hard-to-find, and unique items. I lost the plot when it came to budgeting finances and didn’t prioritize my financial future.

Then I lost my job, got divorced, and lost my apartment.

I was penniless and had to move back home with my ailing mother.

Before I moved back home, I had to throw away most of my CDs, DVDs, and prized entertainment possessions.

I adopt a minimalist lifestyle now when it comes to living and entertainment. It’s easier on my budget.

My minimalist lifestyle reminds me that if I’d saved more money long ago, I might have more life options now.

I prioritized entertainment too much back then.

We all need entertainment in our lives. It’s shouldn’t come at the expense of achieving financial security.

So, how much should a couple budget for entertainment?

It depends.

How Much Should A Couple Budget For Entertainment Expenses?

There is no one-size-fits all mentality when it comes to budgeting.

A budget must be customized to your own financial situation.

I can’t tell you how to manage your money. We all find enlightenment on our own life timetable.

I hope you can learn from my own example about prioritizing needs vs wants to improve your personal finances.

Especially if you’re a young couple starting out in life.

Budgeting is the best way to do that.

I can offer you a basic budget template that you can customize for your own needs.

Have you ever heard of the 50/20/30 budgeting method?

The 50/20/30 Budgeting Method

This is a budgeting method where you allot your finances into three different percentages of budgeting needs.

Or, wants.

50% = Needs

In the 50% category, you should devote 50% of your income towards paying monthly and regularly reoccurring bills and expenses.

The bills and expenses that go under the, “needs,” category include:

  • Rent
  • Mortgage
  • Food and groceries
  • Clothing
  • Heath care
  • Education costs
  • Transportation costs
  • Insurance premiums
  • Property taxes

These are the bills that must be paid for you to maintain a standard of living, eat, and have a roof over your head.

20% = Debt and Savings

In this budget category, 20% percent of your income should be dedicated towards paying your debts.

You can use this part of the budget for investment activity as well.

Anything that is left over should be put in a savings account.

30% = Discretionary Spending (Entertainment)

Here, you can use 30% of your income to pay for discretionary purposes.

Yes, that includes entertainment.

The term, “entertainment,” is a very subjective term and could mean different things to different people.

“Entertainment,” can include:

  • Online streaming services and entertainment
  • Electronic gadgets
  • Vacation
  • Hobbyist endeavors
  • Dining out

Your definition of, “entertainment,” or, “fun,” depends on you.

Also, feel free to adjust budget percentages as you see fit.

For example, you could use a 50/40/10 budget or a 50/25/25 budget, and so on.

Budgets are Continual Works in Progress

Budgets must be continually tweaked, updated, and revised as needed.

Don’t ever focus on a budget so much that you lose the full picture of your personal finances.

You might be laid off, which in this economic environment, isn’t improbable.

Or, you might get a raise.

Unless its working for you in a spectacular manner, you shouldn’t use the same budget continually.

Here are websites that offer great budget templates:

Proper, realistic budgeting is the key to financial freedom.

I’m the last guy on Earth to tell you to forgo entertainment in your life.

Just always remember to prioritize need over want.

If you aren’t careful, you might end up financially rebuilding your life from scratch.

And, reminiscing about all the entertainment you fruitlessly enjoyed instead of saving for a better future.

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