How I Created the Ultimate Entertainment Center on a Reasonable Budget

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When my girlfriend and I moved into our new place we never really planned out what to do with the extra bedroom so my first reaction was “I want to turn it into a man cave!” Oddly enough, she was okay with the idea.

What happened next was, perhaps, my greatest achievement…

Getting Setup

I had set a reasonable budget from the get-go because I didn’t want to blow through our funds having just moved into a new place (that needed other household items). Plus, I didn’t want to get in trouble.

I knew the setup needed three main components:

·  A comfortable piece of furniture to relax

·  High speed Internet

·  A media center PC

I can’t stress enough the importance of good furniture because when you’re lounging for a few hours during your off-time you certainly don’t want to have a sore back. I decided a trip to Ikea would do the trick (and stay within budget) so what I eventually found was a nice futon that would not only double as a couch but would lay out for when I was binge-watching Netflix.

The second was high speed Internet, which was an absolute must since I had planned to stream the majority of my entertainment and I wanted to play online games using my wireless keyboard and mouse. In my area, we have U-Verse and, in case you didn’t know, AT&T is always going to offer great promotions for U-verse. This got me setup and ready to rock (still staying in budget).

The other expense was one that was rather cheap because I had an extra computer laying around. An extra computer and some additional free software made an excellent Media PC that allowed me to pretty much stream and hook up everything I needed for entertainment (there’s a great guide on Lifehacker if you’re interested).

Now I was all set to enjoy my afternoons in solitude while the girlfriend did her thing.

For Your Family

I know that in my case it’s a little different than, say, a family trying to put together great entertainment but a lot of the actions I took can be done for just about everyone (while staying in budget). Overall, I think I spent about $300 for the total setup (since I already had the PC) but even if you didn’t you could always pick up media PC’s off Amazon for about $100 – $200 making the investment about $500.

When you break it all down it becomes dirt cheap. Entertainment on this level is a fraction of what you’d spend if you took your family out to dinner and if you end up creating this kind of setup you could always create a family movie night and skip the expensive theaters in the first place.

The main things, as a recap, would be:

·  A T.V. (obviously)

·  Comfortable furniture so people can relax

·  Subscription to high speed cable and streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon)

·  (Optional) A media PC so you can use your hard drive for movies or play PC games

Throw in a bit of décor to tie the room together and you’ll have successfully created your own entertainment area that everyone will enjoy.

Oh, and don’t think it’s all about just mindlessly watching television either. There are tons of documentaries and other educational shows that are highly entertaining (I recommend the recent remake of Cosmos or the epic Planet Earth).

Considering a night out to the movies costing about $10 per ticket and another $30 – $50 for popcorn and drinks and it’s pretty easy to see why I (and maybe you) would opt for this setup. It simply makes cents (get it?).

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