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With any subscription service, you should periodically evaluate whether you are getting your money's worth. You can view your rental history and see how many movies you have received over the last month and divide it by your monthly subscription fee. If you find you aren't using the service enough to justify the cost, you can scale back your membership, or just opt to rent occasional movies from your local video store. However, late fees can really eat into your entertainment budget.
For free movies, take advantage of your local library. They have tons of movies available and you can request that they order movies you want to see. You can even reserve movies you want online and they will notify you when they are available. And, of course, you can always borrow movies from friends and family after they have watched them.
If you avoid getting drinks or cocktails while you are dining out, you can save a lot of money. The mark-up on drinks and cocktails is high. You will do much better having your drinks at home after a night out. Also most bars have a happy hour early in the evening so call your restaurant to check out the best times to go.
If you would like to go to one of the 5 star restaurants but are on a 2 star budget, consider going and sitting in the bar. Although the price tag may still be high, you can share a couple of appetizers and have a drink without spending hundreds of dollars.
Local community theatres are also a great way to see plays. Many produce locally written plays and take chances on lesser known authors in addition to performing audience favorites. You can often see the play for free if you volunteer as an usher for some of the performances.
Local High School plays can be a lot of fun to attend. They usually encourage attendance by the general public because it helps support the theatre department. The bigger high schools put on very elaborate productions, including live orchestras for musicals. Other schools do more intimate classics, by Agatha Christie or Neil Simon.
For live music, pick up a local newspaper or check out the Internet. Most cities have a weekly paper that is free and had information regarding clubs and activities in the area. Many local bands play at bars or clubs with a low cover charge. There are also performances at the local universities, colleges, and performing arts centers. Musical styles can range from jazz to rock to experimental performance art.
A membership may also allow you free or discounted admissions to zoos or aquariums in other parts of the country. Always be sure to mention your membership when you travel to find out if they provide a discount. Also, be sure to mention that you are a member of the AAA or the AARP when you buy tickets. The key with any membership is using it enough to justify the investment!
Another thing to check out is your local community library. Many libraries have membership passes that they "rent" for the day to library members. This is a great way to go for free.
For even cheaper options, look into minor league teams in your areas. Tickets are much cheaper than their major league counterparts and the games can be a lot of fun to watch.
Swap meets and garage sales are a great way to spend a Saturday morning. Even if you don't spend a dime, you can look at trash and treasures, meet some interesting people and maybe find a real bargain!
If you live near a National Park, they are well worth any entrance fee. Camping is usually cheap, there are nightly entertainments and daily lectures with knowledgeable park rangers. They also have great kids programs with crafts and education about the area.
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Start planning now for upcoming holiday events. Take advantage of local theatre's preview and community nights. You get the same performances at deeply discounted prices.
By Thomas C. from High Point, NC
If you want to get invited to local artistic events, consider writing a column on that sort of thing for your local newspaper. As a member of the press, you will get lots of free invites!
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We would like to have a night for all the neighborhood kids where we watch DVD movies outside on beach blankets (before it gets cold again). We have a 12 ft wide enclosed trailer that we could project the movie on. Only problem is we don't know how to do this with a DVD player. Does anyone have any ideas or can tell me of any special equipment I could buy for this?
The one thing that comes to mind for me is a projector but they are really expensive. They cost between 800 and 3000 dollars. Here's an example of one of the cheaper ones:
A lot of churches and community centers have these and they may be available for loan. Maybe libraries or community centers. Some other community organizations might also have them available to check out. Or you may be able to rent one locally. They are really cool.
you can buy an old 8mm movie projector on ebay for around 20 dollars and a bunch of older cartoons you can purchase for around a dollar I the children would really enjoy the older cartoons. Good Luck
You can rent the projectors that attach to a computer or to a DVD player for not too much money. Call around your local rental places. Businesses rent them for meetings and they are also in demand for special events like reunions, award ceremonies, weddings and funerals.
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Use the library. You can take out books, music, DVD's and they often offer other entertainment. Go to the park if you have one near. Play cards with another couple. Refreshments can be simple, cookies, cake, coffee or pretzels and soft drinks.
Go for a bike ride! We have bike paths in Vermont that are fun, clean and safe. No need to worry about cars and it is free. My mom used to bring me when we were young and we would stop for picnics or playgrounds along the way. As I got older I would rollerblade with friends and pick blackberries along the way. Who says you can't have fun and burn calories?
You could also "climb a mountain", not the rope climbing kind, the walk along a hilly/steep path kind. All states should have these free, or sometimes a couple dollars.
State parks are fun too! when I lived in the southwest, there were all kinds of parks to go to. My brother and I would fill out these "tests" about the park and then we got junior badges. That was so fun! I'm not sure if they still give the badges...it was ten years ago.
I like the library idea, we did that too. You can also find movies cheap on clearance or at yard sales. Used video games can be purchased for under 10.00 if you look in the right places. Or even ebay, I have bought movies for 5.00 or less, that's shipped to the door(shipping+sale price= less than 5.00)
Growing up we found ways to have fun on the cheap. And those memories are much more appreciated than the time I went to Six Flags. Family time is so hard to find in the blur of this multitasking technological world. Best to you and yours everyone!
To save money on snacks at the movies: before taking kids to the movies, feed them so they can't say they are hungry. Make microwave popcorn and let them eat it in the car on the way. Have cold juice boxes and a candy bar in your purse for them at the movies and/or tell them homemade cookies and hot chocolate are waiting at home.
You can have a great time at business grand opening celebrations and home builders also have weekend days where they invite you to see their models and offer fun and free food. Read the paper and keep your eyes peeled for those things happening in your community. Most are free or very cheap to go to and the kids have a ball.
Here in CA, Safeway stores have new movies for $1.49 a night plus tax ($1.61) and on Mondays for $.99. Not ALL new releases but most, great deal! You can keep for a day (up until 11:59 the next day, no matter what time you buy) or if you keep longer it's $.99 a day after.
Read a book to each other! Make a book. READ, it's the best!
In our local grocery stores (Harris Teeter, BI_LO ) they have a video machine. For $1.49, you can rent a video for one night and if you choose to keep additional nights, it's only $.99 for each day. Grab a 2 litre drink and some micro popcorn and, for less than $6.00, you can have movie night at home. Also be sure to add your email address when the machine prompts, they will email you "rent one, get one free" codes. I love it.
Cards, board games, drives (not inexpensive any more). If you live in a large city, art galleries have showings. Get on the mailing lists online. Check out free lectures listed in your local paper at local colleges, societies, hospitals, etc.
By the Oracle
Learn to play bridge. Gather three other friends and you'll love it. It's free. (except for the snacks!)
Here's a few we use all the time. Check out the newspaper on Sunday, there is usually a page full of club and city activities that anyone is welcome to for no charge. Sign up for the mailing list of local colleges, I've gone to free concerts, plays, musicals. Your local park district has a lot going on too. Ours has nature walks during the day and evening, garden shows, history reenactments, maple sugaring in the spring, haunted trails in the fall. Our city has a vintage car show every week and a weekly concert in the park. All this is found in the newspaper.
Go to your local library to check out VCR movies and DVD's. They also have books on tape, have the family listen to a chapter a day "together", talk over what they think the outcome will be and whoever is closest to the outcome gets to be or do whatever they want for a day.
My kids loved the competition of listening and then remembering what they heard. I believe it helped them become better rounded adults.
By Paula, Mebane, NC