Planning a Cheap Night Out

Apparently, I don’t get out much. This weekend, Hubby and I decided to go out with another couple for dinner and a movie. 4 hours and $70 later I was in the car on the way home with a stunned expression on my face trying to figure out where it all went wrong.

Water with lemon

You know, I love a night out just as much as the next girl but to spend the equivalent of a week’s worth of groceries on just one night is, well, not very fiscally responsible. Of course, there are things that I could have done to make the night cheaper if I hadn’t been so short-sighted and, frankly, lazy.

Want to know what I will do differently next time I’m asked to enter the world of social beings? Here are a few ideas:

Make Dinner Cheaper

1. Eat before you leave home. If Hubby and I had eaten before meeting the other couple for dinner then we would not have needed to order so much food at the restaurant. This would have saved us money in both food costs and tip.

2. Don’t drink expensive drinks or alcohol at the restaurant. I gave in and ordered some kind of specialty tea with dinner. It was bottled, did not have refills and retailed somewhere around $3. This is excessive and unnecessary. Water with lemon would have been both satisfying and free.

3. Go out for lunch instead of dinner. Since we had plans to go out on Saturday there is no reason why we could not have met for lunch instead of dinner. Lunch options are often much cheaper at restaurants and afternoon matinees are also less expensive.

Cheap Entertainment

1. Go to a cheaper theater. Believe it or not, there are still dollar movie theaters in operation. We opted for the opening weekend of ‘Alice’ in 3-D, which was over $8 per person. If we had watched something else and gone to the dollar theater, we would have saved a worthwhile amount of money.

2. Rent a movie. There is no reason we could not have just gone back to one of our homes and watched a rented movie or a streaming movie from Netflix. Doing so wouldn’t have just saved us money on the movie tickets but also on the popcorn, soda and Raisinets.

3. Take a walk instead of a movie. ‘Alice’ in 3-D was impressive, but you know what else is impressive and available in 3 dimensions? The entire world. We could have skipped the expensive movie, burned some dinner calories and avoided movie theater popcorn if we had just taken a walk after dinner instead of going to the movie.

4. Don’t eat at the movies. Okay, I don’t even know why I’m putting this on the list because I think skipping movie theater popcorn is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment; the smell of that salty, buttery popcorn wafting through the theater—and you, sitting on your hands to avoid stealing your neighbor’s. Unfortunately, we would have saved about $15 if we had skipped the popcorn, soda and candy which comes pretty close to being worth suffering through a movie without snacks.

Photo credit: Dustin Diaz

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Author Info

This post was written by Yolander Prinzel. Yolander is a financial writer as well as a series 7, 66 and 2-15 licensed representative. During her decade of financial industry experience she has been an insurance agency director of marketing and director of operations, a life insurance underwriter, and a trading service specialist for Raymond James Financial Services. She was a featured speaker at the 2006 Hartford National Sales Conference and the 2006 Brookstreet Securities Annual Conference. Check out her portfolio at

6 Responses to “Planning a Cheap Night Out”

  1. Len Penzo |  Mar 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    You know what, Yolander? Unless I am missing something here, seventy bucks for two people over four hours seems like a pretty decent value to me.

    That is about $8 per hour per person – that’s roughly equivalent the price of going to a movie on an hourly basis.

    Don’t be so hard on yourself! :-)

    Just the same, I think the tips you provided were all good ones.

    All the best,

    Len Penzo dot Com

  2. myfinancialobjectives |  Mar 14, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Great points. I really like the eat before leaving home point. I do this all the time, and as a result share my meals quite often, saving a good bit of money. Either that, or I will order like normal, and have some good leftovers for the next day’s lunch!

    I loved this line: “‘Alice’ in 3-D was impressive, but you know what else is impressive and available in 3 dimensions? The entire world”. So true!

  3. Yo Prinzel |  Mar 15, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Alright Len, you make a good point. Of course, staying home would have been cheaper but being frugal shouldn’t turn you into a recluse, should it? :)

    Thanks MFO :) It was funny to hear everyone in the theater oohing and awwwing over the trees and plants they could practically touch. I just kept thinking, “You know, you actually CAN touch then outside!” I know, I know, it’s cool ’cause it’s a movie… but still… ;-)