Are nights out costing you too much? There are ways you can still have a good time going out without breaking the bank. With a little know-how eating out or seeing a show, gig or film needn't cost too much.
The theatre can be really expensive, but there are ways you can go for less. Tickets tend to be cheaper when a show has been on for a while or on less popular nights in the week - like Monday or Tuesday.
A good place to find cheap tickets is on comparison sites like comparetheatretickets.com or on sites such as lastminute.com. Some sites offer 'best seats available' tickets. The great thing about these tickets is there's a chance you may get lucky and get top price tickets for far less than you'd usually pay.
You could also join a theatre club. For a small joining fee, these clubs offer low cost or free tickets at short notice. They're often available for previews and press nights when the producers of the show want to ensure the theatre is full.
There are lots of ways you can save money on cinema tickets. The most well-known ones are the 2 for 1 cinema tickets that comparethemarket.com offer on less busy week nights. Some national newspapers, such as The Times, also offer 2 for 1 cinema tickets as a subscription benefit.
If you're lucky, you may get free preview screening tickets to see a film before it goes on general release. Some newspapers offer these along with film preview websites you can sign up to. Often the screenings are early evening or on Sunday mornings.
Annual membership may be a good option if you're a regular at your local cinema. The benefits you receive vary, but they usually include a number of free tickets, discounts on tickets, food and drink and free film previews. You can also get cinema passes at some of the big chains which give you unlimited access for a month or more.
Gigs & concerts
Booking fees and postage can add to the cost of gig or concert tickets. If you don't live far from the venue, you can often avoid these fees if you buy tickets in person from the box office.
There are also apps, like DICE, where you pay no booking fee and don't pay postage by downloading your tickets to your handset.
In some instances, the more reasonably priced tickets sell out first. To ensure you don't miss out on these tickets, you can usually sign up for alerts so you're the first to hear when tickets go on sale.
If you're looking to buy tickets after they're sold out, you can go to sites that don't inflate the price but sell them on at face value, such as twickets.co.uk.
Eating out at good restaurants doesn't have to be expensive. If you're able to go at quieter times, like early in the week, most restaurants have a cheaper fixed price menu you can order from instead of the more expensive à la carte one.
If you're a regular at a chain restaurant, ask if they're part of a loyalty reward scheme or have their own scheme. Some offer a free meal when you collect a number of points or money off the bill. You can also hear about special offers if you subscribe to a restaurant's email list.
Many restaurant booking and discount voucher sites, such as opentable.co.uk, vouchercloud.com and wowcher.co.uk advertise special offers too, including 2 for 1 deals, 50% off the bill or 2 to 3 courses for a set price with a free bottle of wine.
Bars & pubs
You can save money on going out to bars and pubs by keeping a look out for special deals. Discount voucher sites like Groupon.co.uk, for example, often have 2-4-1 offers for places locally. Alternatively, sign up to a bar or pub's email list so you can receive offers directly. Many places also have 'Happy Hours', in the early evening, where you can get drinks at a discount.
If you really want to spend absolutely nothing, you could get a free night out at a bar or pub by working as a mystery shopper through an agency, such as TNS Global and Marketforce. They recruit mystery shoppers to check the quality of the service, food, drinks and environment.
When you're at a bar or pub check out the prices before ordering. You can often save by getting beer on tap rather than in a bottle and by pooling your money with friends to buy a bottle of wine to share rather than buying a glass each.
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