Saving Money on Entertainment

When we first started trying to cut down on expenses, I wanted to get rid of the cable but my husband wasn't ready to make that sacrifice yet.  It took almost 2 years from the time we started talking about it till we actually got rid of it.  The cable company kept raising our rates.  We started using Netflix and after a while, my husband agreed that we didn't need the cable anymore. 

Canceling Cable: $60 monthly savings, Annual savings: $720

I thought I would miss my tv shows more than I do.  I don't even bother to watch any online.  A recent article in Parenting School Years mentioned new research shows that 8 to 11 year olds that were frequently exposed to commercials were more materialistic and had less life satisfaction.  Yet another bonus of not having cable television!

Other ways we save on entertainment:

1. Buy annual memberships and utilize the benefits: There's a great science museum a few hours away that would cost our family $57.80 for one visit.  At our small local science museum, an annual membership is only $52.  The larger musuem is on the reciprocal museum list, so by purchasing an annual membership at our local museum for less than the cost of 1 visit to the larger musuem, we get to go to both musuems.  We do the same for our local smaller zoo.  I've used our annual zoo membership for discounts to other zoos and aquariums in other states when we've been on vacation.  Plus with having two young children, we usually go to the zoo 3 or 4 times a year if not more.  Definitely worth the $71 annual membership, when it would cost us $36 for just 1 visit without the membership.

2. Groupon and other deal sites: I really try not to buy any groupons for anything that I wouldn't be purchasing anyways.  It's very tempting to buy all those great deals.  Usually a couple times a year, our local Pump It Up will offer a Groupon deal.  I always buy a couple of these when they are available and usually pay only 1/3 for each visit than what it would cost us to go without the groupon.  I will also purchase groupons for local restaurants if its somewhere that my husband and I like to go to anyways.  Plus, I always go to ebates first so I get a percentage of my groupon price back.

3. Movies: I cannot bring myself to spend $8 - $10 to see a movie.  And I'll admit that when I do go to see a movie which is only about once or twice a year, I do like to splurge on a popcorn.  It just always smells too good to resist.  Luckily, we live very close to a discount movie theater.  Movies range from $1.00 to $1.75 for regular features and 3D movies are $3.75.  And during the summer they have a children's discount movie every week.  We also frequent a drive-in theater that's about half an hour from our house.  The cost is $6 per adult and $2 per child for a double feature of 2 new movies.  We usually take our own pop and candy but do purchase their popcorn.  Their prices are a little more reasonable than the big movie theaters so I don't feel so guilty.

4. Library: Our local library has a great children's department with lots of toys, puzzles and fun little areas to sit and read.  Also they do lots of children's programs throughout the year including theme parties for the little ones.  They post the schedule on their website.  The parties are popular and fill up fast so I just have to make sure I call as soon as they open up reservations for that party.  And the parties are Free. 

I download tons of books for my Nook through the library's website and we will sometimes get movies from the library instead of paying to rent them. 

5. Chuck E. Cheese: I hesitated putting this because it is very tempting and easy to spend a lot of money at Chuck E. Cheese.  But we usually try to go in the morning when they first open.  We don't buy the food and usually only get about $10 worth of tokens.  Baby Ripples would rather just play on the little kids playground and go down the slide.  Little Ripples likes to play some games but she also likes to climb around in the tunnels.  We can usually spend about 2 hours there with only spending about $10 for tokens. 

6.  FREE ENTERTAINMENT:

  • Little Ripples is finally getting to the age where we can play board games that are entertaining for all of us. 
  • Park - We live right next door to a great park with a pond, walking path, playground, tennis courts, and picnic shelters.
  • Swimming at Grandma's House.
  • Picnic: Ok, it may not be free because we have to buy the food but we just use what's already in the house.  We don't even go outside most of the time, just lay a blanket on the floor.
  • Home Depot: On the first Saturday of each month, Home Depot has a children's workshop.  In February they made valentine's boxes.  In March they built a race car and a shelf to put it on.  They also had a ramp set up so that the kids could race their cars down it.
  • Community Events: There are lots of chances to get out and enjoy ourselves for free throughout the year.  Our community does an Easter Egg Hunt, Parades, Christmas Sing with Santa, Arts in the Park... etc.
  • Indoor Playground: A local church has a great indoor playground that is open to the community.  It has four levels of tunnels and a seperate enclosed area for children 2 and under.  The open play times are limited, but it's still a great place.
  • During the Summer Kids Bowl Free is a great program that does exactly what it says.  It allows kids to bowl free all summer.  Check out kidsbowlfree.com to see if a bowling alley near you is participating.

**The one thing I always remember is to take snacks and drinks with us whenever we go out so we don't have to buy them at convenience store prices. 

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