Thursday, March 5, 2009

9 Tips to Saving Money at the Movies

So many people talk about saving money by not going out. Some suggestions I love include things like taking a staycation, picnics, and family movie nights. I love these ideas and we plan to use some soon. But what about those times you just want to go out and see a movie?

How - if at all can you do it on the cheap?

You can’t if you go to a night show and pay regular movie prices. A family of four can’t walk out of that situation for less than $30. It is possible to save at the movies though. Here’s a few tricks Matt and I use when we want to see a movie on the cheap.

1 – Find a cheap theater

If you live in a larger city you most undoubtedly have an older/smaller theater near you. These theaters may not have a huge selection but their prices are cheaper. We have four theaters in acceptable driving ranges. Two are multiplexes that charge more than $8 a ticket. The theater we use is much older with only six screens and charges $4.25 a ticket. The place is clean, the screens are big but there’s no stadium seating. For $4.25 I’ll live.

2 – See a matinee

Ok so lets say you live in a small town and there is only one theater. Then see a matinee. Even the expensive theaters in our area offer a cheaper rate. Normally 50% off the night price. Times that by two and you’ve saved $8 or $16 with four tickets. See a movie before five and eat dinner afterward if you want to make it a date night.

3 – Take advantage of discount days
Before Matt and I found our cheap theater we only saw movies on Tuesdays. Why? Because on Tuesdays all movies are $4 at one of our theaters. Before I started working the night shift on Tuesdays it was like our own date night. Plus a sitter is cheaper and easier to find on a non weekend night.

4 – Buy Popcorn in bulk
So I know everyone says to save money skip the popcorn, but come on if you see a bad movie the popcorn might be the best part of the show. Movie popcorn is delicious you can’t pass it up. So rather than feel guilty about your purchase do it smartly. Most theaters in our area offer a reusable bucket for a nominal fee. You can then use this bucket any time with free refills. Now you have to run the numbers for yourself but for us it’s a good deal. We have to see three movies in a six month period for the bucket purchase to be profitable.

5 – Drink Water
Whether you’re trying to lose weight or save money you’ve probably been told to give up the pop. It’s hard to do but it is worth it. Pop is expensive and loaded with not such great stuff. Take your own water to the theater. While most theaters won’t let you bring in a 20 oz Pepsi ours has no problem with you bringing in a pre-filled water bottle.

6 – Sign up for the rewards card
Trust me on this one, sign up for the rewards card and emails for your theater. With our rewards card we receive great coupons and a selection of movies we can see for each week for only $3 a ticket.

7 – Take advantage of Freebies
Grocery stores use loss leaders to get you in the store with hopes you’ll purchase more, well theaters do the same thing. Many places offer free movies geared towards children and families hoping you’ll come in and spent lots on popcorn and overpriced candy. Two theaters offer these freebies in our area. One has Mom Movie Mondays and another offers free children matinees every Saturday and Sunday. Many times the children’s movie is older and has already been released but hey it’s a free movie – most kids just love the experience of being at the theater.

8- See movies before they come out for free
Back when I was in college I saw a ton of free movies before they even hit theaters. The college would show previews to a limited number of students. Now I’m no longer a student but premiers do still come to the area. If you’re lucky enough to live in a larger town try the following site to find out what’s playing near you.

9 – Win Free tickets from Sweeps
Last summer I won over five free movie tickets from playing instant win sweeps. There hasn’t been one lately but I have a feeling once the summer block busters get started there will be all kinds of chances to win free tickets. I’ll announce them here through out the summer so make sure to keep checking back.

By using these techniques we have be able to save big at the theater.
How do you save when going out to the show? I'd love to hear your suggestions so we can all save more.


Anonymous said...

We try to do this too for the kids as a special treat. One thing that we have and it is with a major theatre chain. See if they have a student discount. We use our college id cards, college was a "few" years ago, but they still accept the ID's. Cuts the ticket prices at about half, and this is at any time of day.