How to Save Money on Entertainment

You want to save money, but you also want to get out and have some fun. Traditional activities such as dining out, movies and concerts have become expensive.

Fortunately, you can enjoy a night out or an exciting weekend for little expense by exercising a little creativity. In fact, the times you remember most fondly will likely be those where you got together with family and friends and spent the least money.

Avoid soaring entertainment expenses and have more fun by taking advantage of the wealth of free or inexpensive activities in your own neighborhood.

Community Events

Sign up for a community newsletter that lists upcoming events. Many of these local events are inexpensive or free. Most communities feature indoor and outdoor festivities such as agricultural fairs, spring flings, craft fairs, music festivals and showcases of local heritage. Pack your own lunch or eat before you set out to save on food.

Potluck Dinners

Assemble a group of friends, and hold potluck dinners at a different house each week. Assign the main course to the host, and have guests bring side dishes and desserts. It is easier and cheaper to buy food in bulk, especially if you pay attention to sales.

Add an activity that interests all of the guests, such as an after-dinner board game.

Movie Nights

Spring for soft drinks and popcorn, and invite your friends over for a movie night. Watch a DVD you already own, or borrow one from a friend. Many libraries offer a good selection of DVDs. Consider classic films and new releases, which generally appeal to a variety of tastes. If you are feeling creative, choose a theme and ask your guests to bring related snacks.

Game Night

Invite your friends over after dinner to play card or board games. Games, unlike concerts and movies, are great for encouraging conversation and laughter. Ask your friends and family to bring some favorites to expand your selection.

Offer games that both kids and adults will enjoy. Search yard sales and second-hand stores to find board games at a fraction of their original price.

School Plays and Concerts

Support your schools and enjoy some great entertainment by attending plays and concerts put on by local kids. Go with a group of friends, and make an evening of it. Admission prices are much lower than those for professional plays and concerts.

While the performances may be less polished, the enthusiasm level is likely to be higher, and you will all feel good at the end of the evening.


Public libraries offer free entertainment to children and adults alike. Most public libraries feature summer story hours for children to promote reading. Many of these programs offer prizes, which may include movies passes and tickets to sporting events.

Adults can take advantage of books, digital e-books, magazines, newspapers, music CDs and movies. See if your library offers culture passes, which allow families to attend science centers and museums for free.

Free Days at the Museum

Museum admission can be expensive, so take advantage of discounted and free days that are generally offered once a month. Museum websites will tell you when these days are scheduled.

Pick-Your-Own Farms

Take your kids to a pick-your-own farm to get fresh vegetables and fruit at bulk prices. Picking starts in March for asparagus and runs through September or October for apples. Larger farms may offer hayrides, face-painting, tractor rides, petting zoos, storytelling and corn mazes.

Time your visit for the morning when it is likely to be cooler, and remember to bring a stroller for the little ones.


Try your hand at letterboxing, a high-tech treasure hunt requiring only a notebook and stamp. Visit the Letterboxing North America website to print out clues to the location of a box hidden in a public location. The box will hold a logbook and stamp. You will mark the logbook with your stamp to show that you have found the box and then imprint your own notebook with the letterbox stamp.

Eventually, you and your family will have a notebook filled with the stamps of letterboxes you have found. Kids will benefit from outdoor exercise while developing map-reading and puzzle-solving skills, and everyone will enjoy the thrill of a treasure hunt.


  1. We just did a potluck at our house on Saturday with three other couples . Everyone brought something and we had a great time! We prefer getting together this way rather than going out because we can take our time and enjoy each other’s company for as long as we want.

    We started letterboxing with the kids about 10 years ago or so and it’s been a blast! Very, very inexpensive. We try to find letterboxes in our local area and also anywhere we go camping. You can also get clues at

  2. We have had such great weather lately here in Tampa, FL that we’ve had a lot of outdoor activities going on lately. We are going to an outdoor shuffleboard club tonight that has like bleachers and fans that come watch. Pretty cool!

  3. Libraries are a fantastic resource for dvd/blurays. Our library even has a “Suggest and item for purchase” form that you can fill out online. With this I have been able to get many Criterion/art house/specialty films that I have wanted to watch. If your library doesn’t have something like this, it still will have some method by which you can contact your library and ask if they will order items that you are interested in. After all, most libraries are taxpayer funded so you should have a say in what they offer. On the flip side if you have DVDs or CDs that you don’t really want anymore, donating them to the library is a great way to share them with your community. Where I am DVD’s count for almost half of all items that circulate in the system, and they can always use more to add to or replace items in their collections.

  4. i think the best one out of the above is the Game Nights. I have friends over regularly for game nights, and we have a great time. However going to the museum or library isn’t that much fun in my honest opinion, but then i guess each person like different things.

    I would strongly recommend having game nights though. And if you do, make sure that you play a murder mystery game, or Cludo, its such fun.

  5. Great list. Almost all of our family entertainment involves some sort of free outdoor recreation…cross country skiing, hiking, or biking – depending on the season. We do these things with friends, so it’s a social event, as well.

  6. I love your list. I love the library suggestion. We have saved so much money using ours for books, movies, children’s activities and museum passes. I would also suggest adding geocaching to the list. It’s very similiar to letterboxing, only you’re searching for containers which usually have trinkets that you trade in them. You can check it out at

  7. Quality time with my family really is expensive especially when we go to the movies and watch something in 3D! Right now, whenever we go and have quality time I expect to really spend a lot but reading your suggestions, I think I’ll try the games one. I think we’ll enjoy that.

  8. Love the library item. I live in Ohio and they have an awesome inter-library loan program. You can search all the libraries in Ohio and if you find what you want you can reserve it and they ship it to your local library for pick up. Not sure if all states do this or not but it’s very cool!

    I love reading. Great free to inexpensive entertainment. Plus you can feed your mind. I just wrote a post recently where I discussed several ways to read for free or at least very inexpensively. You can read it at: