People spend lots of money on entertainment each month without giving it much thought. Of course, over-priced movie theater tickets and nightclub cover charges are two of the main culprits, but so is the cable bill and all those iTunes downloads. You could cut all the entertaining extras out of your life, but that would be boring. Here are some ideas for keeping yourself entertained cheaply while keeping your credit card bill low.
1. Hunt for free events. If you live near a large or even a mid-sized city, chances are there is a full calender of free events. These could be outdoor concerts sponsored by a local corporation or performances that are put on by your city’s parks and recreation department. Many cities have summer theater series, such as Shakespeare in the Park, which occur at local public parks or city squares.
2. Forget the movie theater. Or at least see your movies during non-peak times. Tickets for matinees are often cheaper than prime-time screenings. Neighborhood movie theaters with one or two screens still exist, though many are closing because of a lack of interest. If you are lucky enough to have one in your area, you can catch a movie in the later part of its cinema run before it goes to the DVD and download phase of its release.
3. Do you really need cable? Some people utilize cable daily, watching shows and niche TV channels. However, if you are a niche watcher, there may be other ways to get your TV fix without the hefty cable bills. For example, ESPN broadcasts online (for free with certain internet service providers). Xbox owners can also watch the sports channel if they are Xbox Live Gold members. Online TV sites like Hulu broadcast certain television shows for free. Certain shows are available right after they air on television. Hulu also offers a premium membership for those who want even more access to television shows online. So, explore at the options: cable might be an unnecessary expense.
4. Don’t forget the library. Libraries are developing into places that are about more than books. They are still centered on serving readers, but they also include music and DVDs. Depending on where you live, libraries may charge a small fee or require a security deposit for people who borrow movies. Many libraries do not charge anything. If you are a casual movie watcher who gets a few DVDs each weekend, it might be worth checking out the library before joining Netflix or subscribing to a cable provider.
5. Find free days at museums. Major museums often have free days or free evenings for people who can’t (or don’t want to) pay an admission fee. Some of these venues block out one evening per week for free admission, while others have one entire day of free admission each month. Another related free event held in many cities in an art walk. This usually occurs once per month. All the area’s art galleries open their doors to the public. If you are lucky enough, the gallery may provide free snack or even free wine.
6. College campuses are good places to see cheap, high quality entertainment. College students typically aren’t big spenders, so free and cheap concerts and generous happy hour deals are common. If the college has a drama or music department, they will regularly put on free or cheap performances of reasonably high quality.
7. Get happy at happy hour. Nightlife can be expensive when you figure in cocktails and cover charges. You can get your drinking done at happy hour and then hit the clubs only worrying about entry fees. Better yet, some bars have happy hours that include free or cheap snacks.
The bottom line of saving money on entertainment: check into cheaper options before spending your money. You may be surprised by what you find.