And other realisations.
I broke down my monthly ~700€ budget in an earlier post, and after two years of pretty tight finances, I realised something. I don’t have an entertainment budget. When I looked at my Linxo, the French answer to the budgeting app Mint, I saw rent expenses, food expenses, health expenses, and the one purchase I made during the soldes, but no entertainment. No movie tickets, no museum fees, no cups of coffee, no cash withdrawals for a night out.
This freaked me out for a few days: if it’s not showing up on my bank statements, am I really having fun? The answer was, unsurprisingly, yes and no.
No, I’m not having fun, is probably the simplest thing to explain. My fun in France looks very different from the fun I was having in the US. I don’t typically see movies (although I went straight to the theater to see Moonlight!), and when I go to plays I buy tickets for the season. My bank statement from October looks like I had loads of fun at the theater, even though I bought three or four tickets for the next few months. I’m not out trying new restaurants, or going to wine + painting classes. I don’t take yoga or dance in a studio, and I don’t have a gym membership.
But am I having fun?
I spend a lot of time popping in and out of museums by flashing my student card and residency permit in lieu of tickets. I go to free events at the American Library, and get the most out of my 90€ membership fee by reading constantly. I walk through the Champs de Mars, the Tuileries, the Jardin des Plantes, and the parks in my neighborhood. Soon, my internship will entitle me to free entry into all of the museums and zoos in the Universcience family, and I cannot wait to explore them this spring!
My friends are in similar financial straits, and so we spend a lot of time together at various apartments, drinking cheap wine, playing games, and talking. In the spring and summer, we move into the gardens or onto the banks of the Seine and enjoy the weather. I’ve even been to an American football game to watch a friend play!
I love to spend a few spare hours wandering and watching the city change with the seasons. I visit various stores for some quality ‘window licking.’ On the weekends, we may take a daytrip to another city for about 15€ roundtrip on the train or bus, to enjoy different churches and city squares. In the evenings, I call friends and family back in the US while our schedules line up, or E and I watch a movie on Netflix.
So, I don’t have an entertainment budget, but that doesn’t mean I’m not entertained. I may have to work a little harder to find new and free things to do, but the classics like a good park, a good book, and good company, never get old.