Popcorn from a movie theater.

Entertainment Alternatives

If you are trying to make a budget work, entertainment expenses are often the easiest to cut. You might think that you have to completely eliminate your entertainment budget to save big money, but this is not true. You still need to have fun in life and you can have your cake and eat it too if you are smart about it. Take a look at some easy to implement alternatives to entertainment expenses.

Saving Big On Entertainment

Yes, you can have fun and save money too, you just need to be smart and a little frugal. Here are some easy to put into effect alternatives to common entertainment expenses.

A Weekend Matinee

If you are one of the millions of American’s who traditionally see a movie every weekend, you know just how expensive it can be. If you have a family of four, you can easily blow 100 dollars on tickets and snacks, all in just a few hours. That adds up to an annual cost of over 5000 dollars if you go every weekend.

Movies are a true budget buster, but there are alternatives that you can consider. Alternatives that can save you quite a bit of money while still allowing you to enjoy yourself.

The Dollar Theater

True, these are not really a dollar anymore but they are much cheaper than the new release theater. Where a ticket might cost 10-12 dollars for a new release, you can see a recently released film for as little as 3 dollars. That is a savings of close to 40 dollars for a family of four.

Of course, you will not get to see movies just as soon as they come out. You will have to wait a few weeks, but it is worth it in order to save nearly 2000 dollars in a year on the cost of tickets.

Save even more money by hitting the movies right after lunch or breakfast to cut down on snack costs.

Home Movie Night

If you don’t mind waiting for those new releases to hit the rental market, you can save a lot of money over going to the movies.

A movie rental can be anywhere from 2 dollars at a movie rental kiosk to 6 dollars for a digital download. Compare that to the hundred bucks that you would spend at a movie theater and it represents a huge savings. Nearly 5000 dollars a year.

Sure, you have to wait some time for the movies to be releases, but you get to watch them in the comfort of your own home. Serve your own food, provide your own drinks and maximize those savings.

Dinner At A Restaurant

Do you love dining out? Who doesn’t? A good meal and good service can make for a very enjoyable evening. Enjoyable, but very costly. If you are trying to save money, you should limit the amount of times that you go out to eat at a restaurant, but you need to treat yourself from time to time.

Treating yourself to a night out at a restaurant does not have to cost an arm and a leg though. Be smart about things and you might be able to dine out on the cheap. Here are some ways to do that.

Join E-Clubs

Nearly every major restaurant has an email club that you can join. Yes, you open yourself up to a little marketing, but the rewards can be significant. Score discounts off of meals, free desserts or appetizers and loyalty discounts.

The best thing about these email clubs is that they are almost entirely digital now. No more bringing in embarrassing and inconvenient print coupons. Just show your server your digital coupon or member id and get the discount.

Split Entrees

Instead of getting two entrees at dinner, split an entree and perhaps add an appetizer instead.

Most restaurant meals far exceed the calories needed for a single meal. With most people needing about 2000 calories a day, a single meal should be around 600 calories. Take a look at the menu and you will see that most restaurant meals come in well over 1000 calories with some even exceeding 1500 calories. That is a meal that is best split, especially if you add in an appetizer, free bread or chips.

Drink Water

Water is, of course, free and restaurants make a lot of money on other drinks. This is especially true with alcoholic beverages, but also applies to soda and tea.

It typically costs around 3 to 4 dollars to get a soda at a restaurant and this is something that costs them just pennies. That makes it a huge profit maker.

If you are a family of four and dine out once a week and skip 4 sodas each time, that can add up to 800 dollars in a year. A huge savings. Plus, your waistline and teeth will thank you.

Home Entertainment

If you are entertaining yourself at home, you are saving a lot of money, but that does not mean that there is not room for improvement. Here are some areas to look at.

Streaming Services

The biggest cost cutter is a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu. These services cost as little as 10 dollars a month which represents a huge savings over the average 100 dollar cable bill.

Cutting the cord and moving over to streaming can save you well over 1000 dollars a year. It will also change the way you watch television since you can watch everything on your schedule. No more waiting for your shows to air at a certain time.

Renting Over Buying

If you like to purchase movies when they come out, you are wasting a huge amount of money.

New releases are generally 20 to 25 dollars compared to the 5 dollars that it costs to rent it digitally.

Sure, if you buy a movie, you can watch it multiple times but will you really do that. Most movies are one and done, never to be watched again, so save up to 20 dollars a pop by just renting your titles.

If you regularly buy one new release a month, switching to rentals only can save you well over 200 dollars in a year.

Wrapping Up

Saving money involves making some sacrifices but it does not have to leave you with a boring and deprived life. Enjoy yourself a bit but do things in moderation and do them smartly. Live a good life while preparing yourself for a solid retirement down the road.

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