How to Stretch Your Entertainment Budget Farther

If you are like me you sometimes find you have a little extra money to spend and you start thinking about what kind of entertainment to spend it on.  I don’t know why but I always think of how I can amuse myself, which is a bit short-sighted.  But if there is one thing I have learned through the years it is to amuse myself on the cheap.  So let’s see how much I have learned about cheap entertainment.

Tip No. 1: Invest in a Nice Television and Home Entertainment System

A picture of a boy playing a game with his TV.
Save money on entertainment by being creative and frugal at the same time.

The way I see it, if you’re just going sit down and watch a movie, then why not watch it in the comfort of your own home?  Now there is something to be said for spending a night at the movies but I’ll get to that shortly.

I think a good 60-inch television and home entertainment system will save you money in the long run because if your excuse for going to see a movie is that “it’s better than what I have at home” then the TV and HEC should help ease that sense of deprivation.

I love flat-screen television.  I have no interest in the plasma sets but I have spent upwards of $1000 on a nice flat screen television just so I could enjoy an evening watching movies without all the annoyances of sharing a theater with an audience.

And truth be told you can sometimes rent movies even while they are still in the theater.  If you have no more scruples you can watch pirated copies of the movies online but I like to watch high quality entertainment so I rent when I want to stay home and watch a recent movie.

Tip No. 2: Pay Less by Watching Matinees

Some theaters still lower their prices for that first showing of the day.  If you can save a few dollars by watching a matinee it’s a good deal.  There are usually fewer people, even on the first day a big blockbuster comes out.

Matinee movie prices are possible just because the theaters make so much money on their food and drinks.  They’ll make up the difference at the concession stand.

Tip No. 3: Do Not Buy the Concession Food

This is a controversial tip.  Some people say you should support your local theater by purchasing at least a drink.  And I usually do buy a drink.   But I have almost given up on concession stand food because it’s really unhealthy in every way imaginable.  I don’t think movie theater food can become any more unhealthy but I’m sure if someone thinks of a way they’ll all jump on the bandwagon.

The polite thing to do is to eat before you go see the movie.  If you are on a date this may be exactly your plan but you need to time it just right.  Sometimes the dinner runs late and then you hustle to get in line to see the movie.

Always buy your tickets in advance if you think you will run late or there may be a line.

Some people sneak their own snacks into the theater.  You may be asked to leave if you are caught doing this so I don’t recommend it.  But if you do try it then have the good sense to eat sensibly.  Don’t substitute unhealthy food for healthy food.

Tip No. 4: Attend Free Concerts When You Can Find Them

If you enjoy listening to live music and your community has a “concerts in the park” series during the summer, take advantage of it.  Why pay for expensive concert tickets if you can enjoy good music for free?

The great thing about free concerts is that you are expected to bring your own snacks and drinks.  There may be a concession stand nearby but I don’t recommend buying bottled water from strangers because you don’t know where they got the bottles or the water.

If you invest in a nice, comfortable camping chair and cooler you can enjoy all sorts of outdoor festivities from picnics to concerts in comfort.

The best coolers are the collapsible ones you can easily carry.  They may not hold much but if you are lugging a camping chair and cooler the lighter and smaller your load the better.

Tip No. 5: Take a Dance Class

Believe it or not, you can spend a few hours a week dancing with people in a very inexpensive class.   You might think you need to go to the clubs but dance classes can be a lot of fun and you don’t have to pay cover charges.

Learning ballroom and Latin dances is a lot of fun.  And you’ll be able to dance better at weddings and other social events where dancing may be expected.

Dance studios often hold weekly dance nights for their students so you don’t even have to go to the clubs if you don’t want to.

The Bottom Line

If you want some entertainment there is usually something going on somewhere, but if you think about your budget you don’t have to sacrifice the quality of the entertainment to save a few dollars.  You just may meet some new friends along the way, too.