Spending less doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out ALL of the fun stuff. There are ways to enjoy things you love doing while still staying within your budget. One of my favorite things to do is watch movies, both at the theater and at home, but the cost has changed drastically over the years, and I don’t go out nearly as often as I used to. I remember when we were little, my dad used to take us to see a movie at the theater on Saturdays for $2 each. A few months back, I was charged $9 for a matinee!! I was so shocked at the price, that I figured there must be a better way to go about doing this without spending a small fortune. I started to search the interwebs for tips and tricks for saving more, and I wanted to share some of the best ideas with you!
Switch theaters. We had been going to a theater near where our old apartment was, mostly because it was still fairly close, and it was easy to meet friends there. However, since it’s located in a fairly busy shopping area (i.e. it’s ALWAYS busy there), the prices are quite a bit higher than most. We started going to a new theater that opened at the mall, which is actually even closer to our house, and it’s a few bucks cheaper for showings there at all times. It’s a little out of the way for some other people, but we have no problem getting there, so it’s worth the savings for us. I’ve also found the same to be true for a few other theaters that are a few miles farther away, but the change in price makes the drive worth it.
Check for bargain nights. This same new theater we’ve been going to offers a Bargain Night once per week (typically on Tuesdays, in our area) where all movies are $4 all day for everyone. They also run discounted specials on drinks and snacks. The two of us can often each see the movie AND get a small treat for the same price as we would pay for one admission ticket elsewhere. This has made for the perfect date night during our last few weeks before Baby comes!
Catch an earlier showing. Most theaters offer discounted rates if you see a matinee, which tends to be before 4:00 or so. This was one of my favorite things to do on lazy Sunday mornings. And as an added plus, it frees up your evenings!
Show your ID. Some theaters offer discounts for student, military, and/or senior discounts with proof of ID.
Skip the snacks. Unless they’re discounted, we avoid buying snacks at the theater because they’re crazy overpriced. I’ve seen all of the “theater candy” boxes at Wal-Mart for less than HALF of what the theater sells them for! We either eat at home before we leave so we’re still full for the duration, or else I’ll throw something small in my purse or pocket (technically against the rules, but I figure a granola bar won’t hurt anyone).
Avoid purchasing your tickets online. I’ve learned the hard way that sites like Fandango, which allow you to purchase your tickets in advance from home and pick them up at the theater, charge convenience fees, which really start to add up. If you’re concerned about getting tickets ahead of time before they sell out, stop at the box office and buy them in advance to skip the extra fees.
Follow social media. Check out your favorite theater’s Facebook page to see if they ever have special discounts or promotions. Sometimes theaters (or if you’re lucky like us in Pittsburgh, local film and production companies) even offer free advanced screenings of new movies coming out. We’ve been lucky enough to see three in the past two months a few weeks before their release dates, at no cost to us!
Have patience. While you might not get to see the latest movies in theaters, it can really pay off to wait until they come out on DVD. RedBox rentals are less than $2 per night, and you can enjoy them in the comfort of your own home.
Movies are one of my favorite “fun things” that I budget for. What sorts of extras do you enjoy while still sticking to your budget?