Some young people can find themselves spending tens or hundreds of dollars on entertainment on a regular monthly basis, yet it is a truly discretionary expense. Your entertainment budget is therefore one you can rather easily expand or contract based on your values and your other expenses. Use these frugal practices to get the best of both worlds – lots of entertainment for free or low cost.

Further reading: Give Yourself a Raise: Find Inexpensive Entertainment on or near Campus

Local Events

Most cities host free or low-cost events throughout the year, and with a higher density of events in the summer. These events include concerts, outdoor movies, festivals, theater, sports, etc. Find a comprehensive calendar of events for your city and check it regularly for new additions. You can also ask other grad students what their favorite yearly free public events are.



Subsidized Basketball Tickets

Emily Roberts

Duke University

Biomedical Engineering

Basketball is a way of life on Tobacco Road. Even though I wasn’t a sports fan coming in to grad school, getting connected with the basketball culture really opened up my social life. As grad students, we have the easiest/cheapest route into Cameron Indoor Stadium of anyone – and our section is right behind one basket! In September, we camp out in groups for 36 hours and those who make it to enough checks are entered into a lottery for season tickets. A season ticket cost $250 in 2014, which works out to about $14/game. We share the season tickets within a group and watch many of the games together on TV when we aren’t attending. Over the years, my basketball group has become my closest friends in my city. Considering that the undergraduates have to camp out for months and others have to pay tens of thousands of dollars for season tickets, we really get a great deal!

One of the benefits of being a grad student is that your university and department provide free or subsidized entertainment options throughout the school year. From sports to theater to concerts to celebrations to happy hours to movies, you should be able to find something to do just about every week on campus if you like.

Graduate student organizations on campus also may host social events off-campus and subsidize the cost to attendees.

Student Discounts

Check for student discounts and free days at movie theaters, museums, performing arts centers, and other local establishments.


Millennials are forgoing cable TV at an unprecedented rate in favor of alternative video delivery. If you do want to watch television, only buy as much as you’re really going to use and reevaluate frequently as new options come available.

  • Netflix/Hulu Plus/Amazon Prime: There are many options for subscription video services with slightly different catalogues. You probably don’t need more than one!
  • Single-network packages: The cable goliath is starting to fall. You can now purchase access to single channels or sports packages such as HBO Go and Sling TV.
  • Viewing parties: If you’re willing to leave your home, you can join other people to watch popular TV shows or sports for free. Find a friend with a similar obsession who is willing to let you crash or .
  • Bunny ears: Don’t forget that TV is still available for free over the air in very high digital quality. All you need is the one-time purchase of an antennae and you will have indefinite access to a number of stations.

Further Reading: How to Cancel Your Cable When You’re Addicted to a Show; Our Best (Pain-Free) Money-Saving Moves


As a graduate student, you should have access to both your university library and your local public library. These days, you can check out a lot more than books from libraries. Instead of paying for Redbox or Netflix, you can get movies and TV shows for free from the library.

Further Reading: Why Are We Spending $155.76 with Netflix When Our Queue Is Available for Free?; 10 Library Freebies You Might Not have Known (or Forgot) About

2 thoughts on “Entertainment”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *