The Value of Entertainment

I talk a lot about food in this column, because food is a necessity and an eternally recurring expense. Even raising your own garden requires some expenses—tools, water, new gardening gloves, etc. For these reasons, food is an obvious topic when discussing frugality and efficiency. It’s visual, tactile—you see/taste/touch/smell the food you eat. Granting you have found your plan for food, let’s take a temporary leap to the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and discuss satisfying our need for creativity. This need can, of course, be met in numerous ways, but broadly it finds at least some satisfaction in the realm of entertainment. Ask yourself why someone might be frugal with their leisure activities, and how they might acquire inexpensive entertainment.

Since entertainment satisfies needs on the highest level, it should only be approached when all others are satisfied first. For the poor college student, living on loans, you might even take the approach that you have zero dollars to spend on entertainment. I’ve done that for weeks or a month to test myself, and never found myself with an unsatisfied need for creativity or amusement.

For this week’s assignment, your task is to seek out completely free entertainment for the next week. Given the number of free events, gatherings, and happenstances in Chico at any one time, your assignment should be easy. Go out, have fun doing something, and don’t pay any money for it. If you’re stumped, here’s a hint: unless you’re reading this online, you’re probably a few pages away from an events calendar directing you to numerous events, at a variety of venues every day in the next week.

If you don’t see anything you like on this week’s events calendar, try meetup.com, visit the library, or take a walk in the park. If you attend Chico State, try out something new at the WREC center. Or make up your own event. Host a terrible movie night for your friends, and ask everyone to bring something to snack on. You could even invite them into the frugal spirit by asking them to bring snacks from what they already have at home. If they’re true friends, they won’t care you only have water to offer.

(Notice that I am not saying it’s never OK to pay for entertainment; by all means support your local arts/music/comedy scene when it’s feasible and fits your plans. Likewise, if you offer only water at every shindig you host, you will likely find less people attending over time.)

The monetary cost of entertainment is generally a first world problem. I visited a Haitian orphanage for a week, and the children there never ran out of things to do. They played soccer, climbed mango trees, used pebbles to play variations of tic-tac-toe and jacks, and put on plays for one another. It made a lasting impression on me—if I have leisure time available, then I can find a way to meet my need for creativity and entertainment. You can, too, dear reader.