Earlier this summer my husband stayed with the kids (no sitter expense) while I joined a close friend for a viewing of the summer hit, Wonder Woman. Movies have been a huge part of my life, especially during my law school years. I would finish an exam, and then escape to a dark theater and lose myself in the story on the screen, giving my mind a break from the intensity of a legal education. After graduation movies remained a staple in my life, often seeing all of the films nominated for awards, etc.
Time moved on, I married and children joined the picture. No longer was a movie a simple pleasure, but one that required paying a sitter ($14/hour) plus admission. Over time my habit of going to the movies faded. And as work pressure and parenting duties mounted, even watching a movie at home became a thing of the past. If the kids were asleep, I opted to sleep as well.
Now the kids are older and I thought I'd venture back out to an old favorite, the theater. It had been awhile. Now you select your seat at the point of purchase and hand over $10.50 for a ticket. The night I went I wanted to get a bottle of water or small soda in case I needed to take a pain pill; earlier that day I had had a root canal (ouch to the mouth, and ouch to my pocket book). My jaw dropped at the counter; $3.50 for the smallest soda and not basic bottled water. I'm far too frugal for those prices, and found the water fountain and took the medication in advance of the movie starting.
Wandering into the theater my jaw dropped again. I believe each and every seat was a huge recliner with drink holders, etc. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to adjust the seat and then an image hit me -- this is like Rome. What the heck, we are too decadent in America. How do people afford to bring an entire family to the movies ??!?!?!?!?
I enjoyed Wonder Women and am glad I saw it with a good friend and supported the production of this movie. But I will think twice before feeding my movie habit with an outing to the traditional theater. There is only so much money and I have yet to find a money tree. We prioritize our hard earned salaries to pay for quality food, travel, and good health care. Movies are not high on the list.
If you, like me, are turned off by the over-the-top cost of watching a film, here are some frugal ways to enjoy films without breaking the bank:
- Be selective and don't watch everything released. Time is our most precious commodity, and movies can take up a lot of time. Life is too short to spend hard earned money on a mediocre film;
- Borrow films from your local library. I was patient and this weekend all four of us will watch Hidden Figures for free in the comfort of our own basement. If the kids lose interest, it didn't cost a penny;
- Rent from vending machines, stores, or on-line services;
- Subscribe to Netflix or Amazon Prime -- we use Amazon Prime and will watch what is free if the stars align and we have time for an entire movie, or pay a small rental fee to watch one we specifically want to see;
- Find out if the theater has discount days, coupons, or find a theater that shows films just before they go to DVD -- they are often a fraction of the cost (but the popcorn is just as pricey); and
- Ask for gift cards to theaters for birthday and holiday gifts. Experiences beat stuff any day.
Thanks for reading, and leave a comment if I've overlooked a method you employ to live frugal but stay current on Hollywood releases.