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Saving on Entertainment
If you are trimming your budget, cutting entertainment costs can be a good place to start. However, that doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time sitting at home watching free TV. There are plenty of things you can do to save money on entertaining.
First, always look for coupons. Check online, and also check the newspaper. When that pack of direct-mail coupons comes to your house, go through it and keep any you might want to use. Do the same thing with direct-mail fliers or the fliers folks stick in your door.
It also probably makes sense to invest in an Entertainment Book or similar coupon book. These can pay for themselves many times over if you take advantage of the thousands of dollars in deals for everything from dining out to travel. And as a bonus, they often are sold as fund-raisers by schools or clubs.
Ask for discounts, especially if you have an AARP or AAA card or if you are a student, a senior or a member of the military. It never hurts to ask. And if you have kids, make sure you know the age limit for free or discounted prices before you go.
Don’t overlook free stuff. For example, many museums offer either free or deeply discounted admission on certain days of the week. Or you can always pack a picnic and go to the park.
Finally, be flexible. By going out a little earlier or choosing one sushi place instead of another, for example, you might be able to spend a whole lot less.
Ideas for saving on specific kinds of entertainment include:
Take advantage of early bird specials. Some restaurants offer these only to seniors, but many offer them to anyone who wants to dine before the rush.
Patronize the same restaurants. Restaurant owners often reward frequent customers with a little something extra.
Take that a step further, and see if the restaurants you go to most often have a frequent diner program in which you accumulate points you can redeem for discounts or freebies.
Avoid dinner. It is much less expensive to eat lunch in a restaurant. Or eat at home, then go out for dessert.
Check out happy hours. Many bars and restaurants offer cheap or even free food during happy hour. You might not even have to buy a drink.
Drink water. The cost of alcoholic beverages – or even non-alcoholic drinks – can push up your bill significantly.
See if the theater offers reduced prices for off-peak times. If you can see a movie at 5 p.m. instead of 8 p.m., for example, you might save as much as half. (Reduced prices usually don’t apply to the opening weekend of a major movie.)
Bring your own treats. Stopping at the snack bar can double the cost of your movie night.
Rent a movie from Redbox or a similar discount movie rental kiosk.
Plays, Concerts, Sporting Events
Check to see if the venue releases reduced-price tickets right before the game or performance. Some venues sell remaining tickets at a fraction of the full price to ensure that the venue is full.
See if an outside entity sells reduced-price tickets the day of the performance. This is especially common for theater productions.
Also with theater productions, go to a matinee rather than an evening show.
Look for tickets online at sites like StubHub or Craigslist. Ticket brokers or season ticketholders sometimes are looking to unload unused tickets, especially as it gets closer to the event.
Don’t overlook smaller productions. For example, you can see wonderful plays at a university with a theater department or at a small neighborhood theater. And college or even high school sporting events can deliver all the excitement for a fraction of the cost of the pros.