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The best ways to spend less on entertainment

The best ways to spend less on entertainment
Image source: Getty Image

Brits spent a whopping £9 billion on entertainment in 2020, up 17% from the previous year. While this was due in part to the growing popularity of digital and streaming services, it was also due to the pandemic. More free time and fewer chances to go out and travel meant more money spent on having fun at home.

Digital video service subscriptions grew by 38% in the course of one year, while spending on music streaming went up by more than 15%. Overall, Brits have been spending a lot more on entertainment at home – and their wallets are feeling it.

We take a look at ways to cut your monthly expenses without giving up your favourite entertainment options. 

Look closely at price plans for movie streaming services

If you’re trying to spend less on entertainment through streaming movie services, the key is to choose your favourite service and cancel all others. Most streaming services offer several price levels depending on your needs, so look at things closely and always choose the lowest level you’re comfortable with.

For example, Netflix’s most popular plan is their standard plan, which costs £9.99 per month and offers HD streaming for up to two screens simultaneously. However, if you live alone and just watch movies occasionally on your phone, their basic plan (only one user at a time in standard definition) is just £5.99.

Other streaming services offer additional discounts. For example, DISNEY+ is £5.99 per month, but only £59.99 if you pay for the whole year, so you essentially get two months free. Apple TV is even cheaper at £4.99 per month, but it’s also free for a full year if you buy a new Apple product.

Pick your favourite music service

Most music streaming services in the UK have a set price of £9.99 per month. This includes Tidal, Premium Spotify, and Apple Music. While each service has “a little something” that the rest don’t offer, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have more than one paid plan. Instead, look at each one and see which fits your needs best.

For example, Tidal is famous for offering exclusive tracks from musicians such as Jay Z and Kanye West, while Apple Music makes more sense if you want to link your songs to several Apple devices.

To save on music streaming services, start by checking the free options and see if they might be enough. Spotify’s free option doesn’t allow downloads and limits skips, but otherwise still gives you access to their massive database of 35 million songs.

Apple Music, on the other hand, offers a half-price special for students and an initial free three-month trial for iPhone and iPad users.

You can also give French music streaming company Deezer a try. Like Spotify, it offers an always-free option.

Try cheaper or free alternatives for entertainment

In addition to taking advantage of free trials and special offers, there are plenty of places available to stream movies and shows for free. Netflix even has a watch free option that offers some Netflix originals to non-subscribers, no strings attached.
Other options include Tubi and Peacock, both with a large movie library, and VRV for animation enthusiasts.

In ‘real life’, the best way to spend less on entertainment is to find things to do for free. Many museums, including the National Railway Museum and the National Gallery, offer free or donation-based entry. Parks are always free and offer many opportunities for hiking, picnicking or just enjoying nature.

Most cities have free events – from concerts to exhibitions and more – so they’re worth checking out too. And while many attractions might be closed due to lockdown, open-air destinations remain open and can be a great way to have some socially distanced fun.

During lockdown, there are also plenty of online concerts, streamed shows and workshops you can try. Take a look at the Visit London website for country-wide offerings.

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