76% of Middle-Income Americans Are Cutting Back on Entertainment and Dining Out. Here's How to Enjoy Life While Spending Less

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76% of Middle-Income Americans Are Cutting Back on Entertainment and Dining Out. Here's How to Enjoy Life While Spending Less

Of course, if given the choice between dining out and attending social outings versus racking up credit card debt, you may be inclined to stay home and avoid digging yourself into a financial hole. But just because you're short on funds for leisure purposes doesn't mean you're doomed to weeks of microwavable meals and solitude. Here are five ways you can eat well, stay busy, and socialize without spending a fortune.

Dining at restaurants isn't just about filling your stomach with great food. It's also a great way to socialize. But you don't have to give up on the latter aspect. Instead, invite friends to your place for a potluck meal where everyone contributes something. You'll get to sample different dishes and catch up with your inner circle without having to worry about leaving an overworked waiter a tip.

Maybe there's a recipe you've been wanting to try, only you're intimidated by the different techniques and longer list of ingredients. In that case, why go it alone? Invite friends over for a recipe challenge. Tackle that meal together and enjoy it together. And if you so choose, take pictures or videos along the way to document the experience and have something fun to look back on.

Going to the movies has become unbelievably expensive -- especially if you have the gall to want popcorn and a soda, too. A better bet? Host a movie marathon. Microwave some popcorn, have friends bring candy and beverages to share, pick a theme, and indulge in several hours of cinematic thrills. 

Spending time in nature can be good for the soul -- and it doesn't have to cost a penny. Find a new park and meet for a picnic, or round up some active friends and go for a hike. You might appreciate the change of scenery more than you anticipate.

If you have a form of ID and a pulse, you can generally qualify to get a library card. From there, you'll have access to tons of books you can read when you want to escape reality. Better yet, turn your love of reading into a social activity by starting a book club with friends. It'll give you yet another recurring activity to look forward to that doesn't have to cost money.

Cutting back on leisure spending isn't easy. But just because you're looking to conserve funds doesn't mean you're doomed to a miserable existence. There are plenty of ways you can stay busy and enjoy your life without busting your budget or adding to a pile of debt you're trying to make go away.

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Maurie Backman writes about current events affecting small businesses for The Ascent and The Motley Fool.

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