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.