Movies, music, books, TV — the cost of keeping oneself entertained can add up, especially heading into blockbuster-heavy months of the summer. Fear not! We’ve got your budget covered. Check back every day this week for more posts on how to find the best in cheap — and free! — options.
Vinyl More and more people are picking up new music on an old-school format: vinyl. Fans cite the warm sound and eye-catching cover art. But is it a good financial move? Prices average around $25 per record, but sales can bring them to the same $15-$20 range that a CD runs. Best of all, many LPs now come with codes that will let you log on and download their contents as MP3s. Of course, you may need to factor in the cost of a decent turntable to play the things ($100 or more), but once you do, you can also start hitting the used-record shops to score classic albums for as cheap as a buck a pop. When you factor in those savings, it makes for one rockin’ deal. — Simon Vozick-Levinson
Premium cable vs. DVD box sets Fans of The Tudors probably can’t imagine living without their Showtime. But should they? Is it worth saving the $180 a year that it costs to subscribe to a premium channel like HBO or Showtime and simply buying your favorite shows on DVD instead? It depends on your viewing habits: Those who follow a single show would be smart to wait for the DVD (season 1 of HBO’s In Treatment is only $35 on Amazon). But if your household watches three or more shows on a channel — and also takes advantage of all the movie offerings — then premium cable is still a deal. — Tanner Stransky
The Kindle Sure, the Kindle 2 might lighten your backpack load. Unfortunately, your pockets will also be considerably lighter.The electronic reader demands a hefty initail fee of $359. As for books, they run $9.99 a piece, which is roughly the same amount as their print counterparts for most titles. Tthe deice may make more financial sense for avid buyers of hardcovers (which generally retail around $25) who could start saving after about 24 downloads. But for the majority of readers, the book on the Kindle 2 reads no deal. — Kate Ward