July 18 2011|08.00 AM UTC

Alex Gutow

Alternative and Affordable Entertainment

Category: Personal FinanceTags: , , , ,

Entertainment can often be the downfall of many budgets. When you think about going out, many people assume that means dinner and a movie, which can get expensive. However, there are plenty of options out there to keep you entertained without breaking the bank. Here are seven affordable ways to spend the day.

Frisbee Golf

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This relatively new sport has become quite popular, with courses popping up in local parks across the country. Whether you call it frisbee golf, disc golf, or frolf, this is a great game to play by yourself or with friends. Courses will have metal baskets spread out that serve as “holes” and you try to get the Frisbee into the basket in as few throws as possible. A Frisbee will run you anywhere from $4-$20 each and the parks are usually free. Check PDGA’s website to find a course near you.

Public Library

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For most, the library is the most under-utilized options for a wide variety of entertainment. It is simple and free to get a library card, which can be used to check out DVDs, books and music. Libraries also host an array of events including book readings, signings and concerts all for free.

College Campuses

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Campuses are great place to find all sorts of free or cheap events. Each week, you can be sure to find student musical performances, films, theater productions, sporting events and much more. The cost will depend on the event but most will range from free to about $15. And don’t worry, while a student ID may get you discounts or priority tickets, they are rarely required to attend.

Matinee and 2nd Run Movies

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While movies used to be a cheap form of entertainment, regular ticket prices have soared over the last few decades. In fact, in 1980, a ticket was only $2.50. In 2011, the average ticket price is $8, which is 300% higher when adjusted for inflation. That’s not even for an Imax or 3-d movie either. However, there are still ways to find cheap movies. To entice people to come to matinees, theaters usually price these showings much lower – around $4-5. Certain theaters will also play 2nd run movies so, if you can wait a few weeks, you can catch Harry Potter for only a few dollars.

The Beach

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If you’re dreaming of a relaxing vacation to the beach this summer, try looking closer than Cancun. If you live on the East or West coast, you won’t be more than a few hours from a beach and many inland states have lakes with beautiful beaches that you can try. Access to the beach is usually free and you can bring along a cooler full of snacks and beverages to save money on meals too.


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If the weather is not cooperating, bowling is a great indoor activity. Many bowling alleys have specials where you can bowl all day for a flat fee. Some bowling alleys even host concerts and have food and drink specials. Call around to see who is offering the best deal in your area.

Public Pools

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While public pools are becoming rare, many apartment complexes and neighborhoods do still offer them for free. If there is not one in your area, try a local recreation center that has a pool for a low rate. In San Francisco, it’s only $5 for an adult to swim and $1 for a child. YMCAs also offer monthly rates, so for around $50 a month, you can have unlimited access to the pool and other facilities.

You don’t have to spend much money to have a great time out. Get a group of friends together and aim to try everything on this list this summer. After all, having fun is more about the people you’re with rather than the amount you spend.

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