Entertainment is one way many of us break our budget. Though the cost of entertainment is still a relatively minor part of our budget, it has increased over the years. Americans spend 9 percent of their income on entertainment and recreation, which is double the rate of 1980. Entertainment is a great place to save money, and small changes can make a big difference.
Taking your family to the movies can easily add up to a budget-breaking amount. So let’s think about ways to cut costs and still go to the theater and consider other options that may save even more money.
If you really love movies, opt for a showing earlier in the day. I checked the schedule this week and found that I could save $2.50 per ticket by going to an earlier showing. You can shave off another $1 by buying tickets in bulk. You might want to get together with some of your friends, however, because the minimum bulk purchase is 50 tickets. For regular movie goers, that many tickets may go fast, but it is an expensive up-front purchase.
Sign up for the loyalty program at the local cinema. You get a point for every dollar you spend in tickets and at the concession stand. It takes 150 points for a free ticket, but you’ll get there fast. If you sign up for the loyalty program, make sure you put in your email address so that you can be notified of special offers and promotions.
Consider buying a gift card. Cardcash.com buys gift cards that other people don’t want and puts them on the market. This week I saw discounted cards available for a local movie theater at a 13.1 percent discount. A $100 gift card could be purchased for $87.
The concession stand can easily cost you a pretty penny. Though it is tempting to take your own candy and snacks, it is against the rules, so make sure everyone eats before you head out. If you’ve just eaten, the hot dogs and popcorn won’t tempt you so much.
The Blue Loon in Ester also shows movies, with two showings most nights. The movies are just a little older, but it’s still a great opportunity to enjoy current flicks at just a little lower admission price. Check the website for the schedule.
If you’d rather stay home and enjoy a movie, subscription services are a bargain. Most plans have a flat rate for a month of movies, which is about the same price as one ticket at the theater.
You can also opt for video on demand through your cable service. Again, the price is right at about $5 for a movie for 24 hours. The movies are sometimes newer than those available from subscription services.
Noel Wien library has a broad selection of movies that are available for check out. If you have a library card, the price is definitely right — free. The movies may not be the latest ones, but you can choose a classic that your family will enjoy.
Movies that will be watched several times can be purchased, either new or used. If you buy a movie used, make sure it works correctly before purchasing. Consider the cost per viewing when purchasing a movie. A new release may cost up to $30 while older classics may only cost about $5. If you plan to view the movie multiple times, the cost per viewing goes way down.
The real bargain about staying at home is the savings on snacks. Microwave popcorn and sodas are much less expensive than the snack bar at the theater.
Movies can be a great way to while away an afternoon or a night. Make sure you save a few dollars when you do.
Roxie Rodgers Dinstel is associate director of Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Questions or column requests can be e-mailed to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 907-474-7201.