Paying off student loan debt can be a drag, but it doesn’t mean you have to eliminate all the fun from your life. Depriving yourself for too long often backfires anyway, resulting in spending binges that lead to shame and guilt.
Let’s not go there. It is possible to have fun without spending a bunch of money — here’s how.
8 Creative Ways to Save Money
From low-cost entertainment to creative savings hacks, these tips will help you rock your budget and continue to focus on getting rid of debt.
1. Buy from Deal Sites
Rule number one of
fight club saving money: never pay full price for anything. When you’re looking for cheap, fun things to do, always check online for discounts. Start by searching deal sites such as:
- Goldstar: Offers sports, theater, and music tickets at half price or more.
- ScoreBig: Save 60 percent for tickets of all kinds.
- Groupon: Find deals on food, massages, events, and more.
- RetailMeNot: Get coupon codes for Ticketmaster and other online retailers.
If you don’t find what you need on these sites, do a quick Google search for what you are looking for and the terms “discount” or “coupon.”
How much you can save: Easily 10 to 50 percent off.
2. Enjoy Free Arts and Culture Events in Your Community
Most cities offer some sort of free programming, especially during the summer and around the holidays. Start by checking out your local park’s calendar to find free concerts and classes.
In bigger cities, look into art walks. These events usually happen once a month, when galleries all across town are open and offer free wine and snacks.
By scoping out community calendars and looking for free events on Facebook, I’ve been able to attend many free concerts, a few free classes, lectures, and more.
How much you can save: 100 percent — free entertainment for the win!
3. Volunteer For Free Admission
Giving back to the community can have its own perks (besides that warm and fuzzy feeling). An easy way to save money on entertainment is by volunteering at your local theater, concert hall, or festival.
Theater and music productions are often seeking volunteer ushers, while festivals often need a few extra helping hands. Also consider concerts, conferences or even a beer festival. Typically, you work for a few hours in exchange for free admission. Simply contact the venue and ask about volunteer opportunities.
How much you can save: 100 percent.
4. Go Out on Off-Peak Hours
Timing is everything, especially when it comes to saving money. Peak times for entertainment are often Friday and Saturday evenings. An easy way to save money on movies, theater tickets, and more is to go during off-peak hours.
For example, my favorite movie theater sells $5 tickets on Monday and Tuesday. Matinees are usually $8 and regular pricing is $10. I can get tickets at half off simply by going on the right day.
Another option is to see a play during previews, which are just a few days before a show opens and can provide a sweet discount.
How much you can save: 30 to 50 percent off.
5. Check Social Media
While you’re scrolling through photos of cute cats and beautiful babies, use social media to save you money, too! Some companies offer exclusive deals and last-minute tickets via social media.
Start by following movie theaters, concert venues, and ticket agencies on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Be on the lookout for coupon codes in your feeds to save you some cash. You can also find deals by joining groups and following an event’s hashtag.
How much you can save: 10 to 30 percent, sometimes more.
6. Join Rewards Clubs
In a world where competition is fierce, loyalty pays. You can sign up for rewards clubs at various movie theaters and accrue points every time you go. Eventually, you’ll earn enough points to get free movie tickets as well as other perks.
Another great rewards club option is to sign up for wine clubs. If, like me, you enjoy a glass of wine regularly, consider signing up for a wine club at your favorite winery.
I joined a club at my local winery and receive massive discounts every time I buy. The first two bottles included as part of my membership are worth more than my $40 membership fee. I also get a 20 percent discount on each additional bottle, plus I get free tastings for me and my friends every time I come in (valued at $10 per person). What I get out of it more than makes up for the club fee.
How much you can save: 10 to 40 percent off.
7. Enter Giveaways
Entering a giveaway can feel like a shot in the dark — usually, it is. I’m definitely not an advocate of spending hours signing up for giveaways to try and get free stuff.
But sometimes spending time to enter a giveaway is worth it when it’s for something you really want that you could otherwise not afford. I recently entered a giveaway for a music festival I couldn’t afford on my own. I spent two minutes coming up with a crafty comment about why I should win, and lo and behold, I won $150 in festival tickets.
For giveaways, it’s important to know if the drawing is random or not. When you have the chance to explain why you deserve to win, a bit of thought and effort can save your budget big-time and get you into the best local concerts, festivals, and more.
How much you can save: 100 percent.
8. Buy Early
If you’re looking to go to a festival or other special event, it pays to buy tickets early as most vendors have early bird pricing. As time goes on, the price goes up — and let’s face it, the cheap tickets usually sell out quickly. In this case, the early bird does, in fact, get the worm (by worm, I mean some extra cash).
I saved over $200 by buying early bird tickets to a conference and saved money by buying Tier 1 tickets to a music festival. If you know you are definitely going to go, buying early can pay off.
How much you can save: Up to 50 percent off.
If you’re burdened by student loan debt, paying it off as quickly as possible should be your top priority. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay holed up at home and never spend money.
Fun can be free — or pretty close to it. You just have to know where to look.
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