10 Ideas for Lowering the Cost of Entertainment

Have you lost your mojo along with your moolah? Has less finances meant less time with friends? It doesn't have to be like this! With these ten ideas for having fun when money is tight, you'll never have to decide between having fun and saving money again!

Ten Ways To Save Money While Having Fun

Make it a matinee – Let’s face it this recession isn’t exactly hitting the A-listers, and we’re still paying a pretty price to see Hollywood’s best on the big screen. Going to an afternoon show can often mean significant savings over an evening viewing. Make sure to check with your local theater, some offer additional discounts for the first show of the day, or offer deals on certain days of the week. For example, my local theater has $5 Tuesdays – all tickets, all shows, all day. That is less than half the normal, evening movie price in my area!

Go out for breakfast - Going out to dinner can be very pricey, so swap things around and go out for breakfast instead. You can go the light route with a muffin and coffee and have breakfast for two for around $10, or go out for a full breakfast of eggs, toast, home fries, coffee and more and still pay less than $10 per person (including tip) in most restaurants. Locally owned diners and breakfast joints are usually your best bet for saving money.

Enjoy an appetizer – If you really want to go out to eat, skip the entrée and order an appetizer instead. Many restaurants have appetizer options large enough to make a meal, or you can split one with your special someone before heading to the house for a home cooked dinner.

Take A Hike – Find a local park, mountain, or reservoir and take a nice long hike. Visit the National Park Service website "Find A Park" service to find a national park, or your local state governmental website for state parks. Hiking is a great (and free) way to see some new sites, and enjoy time with your friends or family.

Visit a Museum – Take advantage of passes available at your local library, or special promotions to visit a museum for free or at a discount. My local library has passes available for free or reduced admission to almost a dozen museums, and larger libraries often have a wider selection. Military families should also check out the Blue Star Museums project - a collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families and the Department of Defense. In summer 2014 (through Labor Day) more than 2000 museums are available free to military families through the project.

If you’re in Massachusetts be sure to check out the Highland Street Foundation which offers free admission to museums throughout the Commonwealth with its summer Free Fun Fridays program.

Potluck Game Night – Have some friends over for a potluck game night. Everyone brings some food to share, and a game they enjoy playing. This simple night in with friends, might just be the most fun you had all week! Some of my favorite group games include Scattergories, Catch Phrase, and Taboo!

Take to the Hill – Sledding is fun for children of all ages, and an excellent budget friendly alternative to pricey winter sports. Pick-up a sled or tube at your local Target or Wal*Mart and head to the biggest hill in town. Sled until your fingers freeze then head home to warm up with some hot cocoa.

(Dine Al-Fresco – There is something about being outdoors, that just seems to make everything taste better! Whether it is a barbeque at your house or a picnic you take to the local playground, changing the environment from your familiar kitchen table to a new locale can make an ordinary activity like dinner much more enjoyable. For some bonus entertainment, bring your supper to a place you can watch the sunset.

Take in A Local Festival - Whether it’s the County or State Fair, the Big E Eastern States Exposition, or simply the Apple Festival or Christmas Craft Show at your local church, these events are an easy option for inexpensive fun. While the rides and midway games of some large scale fairs can be just as expensive as an amusement park trip, smaller fairs often offer inexpensive local or cultural food favorites, free admission, cheap children’s games, and free music.

(Go on A Camping Trip – It’s true that camping requires some special equipment, but it is still an excellent way to save money on a vacation! You can make camping the main attraction with a stay in the woods or mountains, or simply find a campground close to other attractions you were hoping to visit, in order to cut down on the cost of lodging. First time campers can borrow equipment from friends or rent equipment from an outdoor store, to try the adventure before making a financial commitment.

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Comments 20 comments

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

All great ideas for entertaining in the best of style and yet with little money to spend. We love dining outdoors, especially during the evenings when it is much cooler. Doesn't cost anything for this ambiance!

ElleBee 4 years ago Author

Yep, ambience is fre and enjoyable :). I spend a lot of time on my porch and deck when the weather allows. Thanks for reading.

glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 4 years ago from Northern California

Very good ideas... and glad to say I do a lot of these! :) A lot of my friends are in the same boat, so it's good that I don't have to sacrifice too much time with buddies to save money.

ElleBee 4 years ago Author

Great point glassvisage! It is definitely much easier to have fun on a budget when your friends are also thrifty! You don't feel like the debby downer of the group not wanting to do anyting pricey, and everyone has a good time without worrying about their budget too much.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean

Voted Up. Useful and Interesting! All the ideas are great. I especially like the Potluck Game Night. Thanks.

ElleBee 4 years ago Author

Glad you liked these tips MsDora. Game nights can be lots of fun, and can be done on any budget - you can do a full potluck, ask everyone to bring their favorite beer, or just do snacks.

vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

Great ideas! You don't need to have a lot of money to have fun, and this hub proves it. : ) Thanks so much!

ElleBee 4 years ago Author

Thanks vespawolf, glad you enjoyed the suggestions.

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

These are wonderful ideas - you are so right, you don't have to spend a lot of money to have a lot of fun. Voted up.

Giselle Maine 4 years ago

Superb ideas here! I especially liked the one about local festivals - and with Halloween coming up , right now there are plenty of fall festival events to choose from. I will have to try out some of your other ideas here too - they all sound great! In fact, they sound more fun than expensive entertainment, anyway.

ElleBee 4 years ago Author

Thanks Millionaire Tips and Giselle Maine - it is so true that you don't need to spend muich money to have fun! I am glad there are so many fairs and such near you Giselle. My area is packed with them in the fall and early winter!

alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I second the museum idea. At least here in Southern California, nearly all the museums have at least one free day a month, which provides for cheap educational entertainment. Voting this Up and Useful.

ElleBee 4 years ago Author

That's awesome! If I ever head out to California again I'll have to be on the lookout for some free museums :) In the meantime I'll need to let my cousin in LA know I'm sure her and her kids would enjoy.

vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

These are great ideas! Being on a budget doesn't mean missing out on fun. No one suffers by skipping the big, fattening dinner or catching a matinee movie instead of an expensive evening showing. Thank you for sharing!

emilynemchick profile image

emilynemchick 3 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

These are all great ideas and we do most of them. A potluck game night sounds like a lot of fun - I'll definitely be suggesting that one to my friends soon.

ElleBee 3 years ago Author

Hi Vespawolf and Emily - glad y'all enjoyed the suggestions. And yes, Emily the game nights are very fun! My friends and I had lots of game nights in college - some of my favorite group games are Scattergories, Taboo and CatchPhrase, the nice thing about these is they can be used with virtually any size group.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

These are all great ideas. Having fun does not always mean that one has to spend a lot of money.

ElleBee 3 years ago Author

Thanks Peggy, I am glad you enjoyed. And I agree, you do not need to spend a lot to have a good time :)

Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas

Great sounding ideas! There really are a lot of things people can do on the cheap that involve more time to talk and less spending.

ElleBee 2 years ago Author

Thanks Aufait. I agree - why get together w/ people if your so busy you can't chat? I like ideas that let you actually enjoy the company you're with.

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