You don’t need money to have a good time. But let’s not pretend like it doesn’t help.
Watching a new movie, enjoying a tasty cocktail, visiting your favorite restaurant–these things take cash. Fortunately, saving money in each of these categories is also pretty easy. We also have a guide to saving money on bills–now check out this guide to saving money on entertainment.
#1 Save Money at the Movies
1. Take Advantage of “Discount Days”
On days where they see less traffic, some movie theaters will offer discounted tickets to fill their seats. Check with your theater to see if they offer a “discount day.” It’s usually on a Tuesday.
2. Use Discounted Gift Cards
There’s no shortage of discount gift card sites out there, and many of them sell movie theater gift cards. Just make sure you use a trusted site, like Gift Card Granny or Raise.
3. Visit Dealflicks.com
They call themselves the “Priceline of movie tickets.” Dealflicks is a website that partners with theaters across the country to offer big discounts–up to 60% off. Just search for a theater near you and see what’s playing.
4. Find Redbox Codes
If you use Redbox, you can often find a coupon code to make your already cheap purchase even cheaper–as in, free. Redbox often posts codes on their Twitter feed, but InsideRedbox.com hosts a forum with ongoing codes.
5. Use Your AAA Membership
Depending on the theater, you might be able to save money on movie tickets if you have a AAA membership. You’ll have to buy the tickets in bulk–usually four or more at a time–but you’ll get a discount.
Check the AAA website of your state to look for qualifying theaters.
6. Buy Tickets in Bulk
Even if you don’t have a AAA membership, you might still be able to get a bulk discount on tickets. Costco members have access to this discount at a handful of theaters, and the website of the theater itself may offer a deal if you buy in bulk.
#2 Save Money at Museums
1. Visit on ‘Free Museum Day’
Many museums have special freebie days or hours for patrons. FreeMuseumDay.org lets you search for these museums by city. A few popular museums on their list:
• Los Angeles Museum of Art: Free the second Tuesday of every month
• New York’s Guggenheim Museum: ‘Pay What You Wish’ every Saturday from 5:45 to 7:15pm
• San Francisco Bay Area Discovery Museum: Free the first Wednesday of every month
• Seattle’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture: Free the first Thursday of every month
2. Use Your AAA Membership
Your AAA membership comes with so many perks. Aside from saving money on movie tickets, you can also get discounted tickets to a handful of museums and other tourist attractions. To find one near you, you’ll have to check the AAA website in your state.
3. Take Advantage of Credit Card Perks
Some banks will offer free museum days if you have a credit card or an account with them. With Bank of America, for example, you can get into a handful of museums across the country on the first weekend of the month.
#3 Save Money on Restaurants & Bars
There are lots of obvious ways to save money on restaurants and bars. You could pre-party at home, or take advantage of happy hour, for instance. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, it also helps to know which menu items are the most marked up. But in addition to these tried and true tips, here are some additional ways to soften the budget blow of dining out.
1. Use a Loyalty Program
Many mainstream restaurants have their own loyalty programs. If you go often enough, the rewards can add up. For example:
• The Counter: 10 points per dollar; $5 earned after 600 points
• BJ’S Restaurant and Brewhouse: 1 point per dollar, $5 earned after 75 points.
• Red Robin: $20 toward your 6th visit; every 10th item is free.
These rewards also usually come with some kind of birthday freebie.
2. Use Your AAA Membership
AAA to the rescue yet again. Check out the AAA website for your state, navigate to discounts, and then find the restaurant deals near you. Most of the discounts are for chain restaurants, but, at least in my area, there were a few smaller eateries on the list, too.
3. Browse a Deal Site
I’ll admit–if you’ve got a shopping problem, daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social can be dangerous. But if you can use these sites with caution, you can find spectacular discounts at nearby restaurants. One of my favorite discount sites is CoupFlip, which actually lets you buy discounted Groupon deals.
#4 Save Money on Concert and Sports Tickets
1. Become a Street Team Member
Participate in a small amount of “street team” marketing, and you might be able to score free concert tickets. This usually involves putting up a few flyers or placing them on tables at the venue. I’ve done this a couple of times with friends. From my experience, it required very little effort, and we even got free drinks and merchandise!
2. Volunteer to Work the Venue
If you want to see a concert for free, you might call the venue and see if you can volunteer to work it. Of course, tip can be hit or miss, but it’s worth looking into if you don’t mind doing a little work during the show.
3. Search for Unsold Tickets
Scorebig is sort of like Priceline for concert and sports tickets. You can name a price you’re willing to pay, and they’ll find you the best available seats for that price. Via their website:
“Most major games, shows and concerts have hundreds and sometimes thousands of unsold tickets—even events you’d think are sold out. When you name a ticket price on ScoreBig, we don’t publish your price. That means teams and shows are comfortable giving us (and you!) huge savings—up to 60% below box office price.”
Another site, Fillaseat.com, lets you pay an annual membership ($85) to get free tickets to unsold events throughout the year.
#5 Other Money Saving Options for Entertainment
1. Check Out Your Local Library
Beyond books, many library systems offer movie rentals, screenings, and events. My local library hosts a series of fun events and workshops throughout the year–from small opera performances to poetry readings to yoga workshops.
2. Visit a College Campus
Many colleges offer events open to the public. If you live near a campus, check out their calendar for concerts, sporting events, discussions, art shows and performances.
Project CRediT sources data from Wealthy Genius including net worth, earnings, and various wealth statistics.