For most families, going to the movies is no longer an affordable entertainment option. High ticket costs and inflated snack prices can quickly devour even the largest entertainment budget. But don’t fear! You too can see the latest blockbuster movies as long as you’re willing to do some planning ahead of time.

Here are a few tips to help you save money the next time you yearn to see a movie:

Go to the Matinee

Almost all theaters have discounted shows in the mornings and afternoons. These discounts can be as much as half off the evening ticket prices, making this a popular option for those on a budget. Check with your local theater for more information.

Find Discount Tickets

The major warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club have discount movie tickets for sale. Also, check with your local AAA office and any professional associations or clubs you may be a member of – many of these will have discount tickets available. Just make sure to read the fine print – some coupons and discount tickets have restrictions on when you can see new movies.

Invest in an Entertainment Book

The Entertainment Book is a coupon book usually sold by fundraising organizations around the beginning of the year and is filled with coupons for local restaurants and stores. In the back you’ll find pages of movie theater discounts – some you can present directly to your local theater box office while other you may have to send away for. So read the small print and plan accordingly.

Skip the Snacks

Movie theaters are well known for their overpriced popcorn, candy, and hotdogs. Though people complain, they still can’t seem to walk past the snack bar without getting something. To save the most money, eat before the movie and skip the snack bar. If you’re one of those who can’t resist the siren call of the popcorn, buy a “kiddy pack” for yourself. These are usually small “samplers” of popcorn, candy and soda at a much reduced price than the adult sized snacks. Best of all, you don’t get all of those calories!

Go to the Drive-in

Most regions still have one drive-in in operation. These tend to be cheaper than the regular theater down the road and more tolerant of noisy kids, which makes it the perfect weekend night outing for the whole family. Keep an eye out for specials – some have discount prices on weekday nights, which makes seeing a movie even more affordable. Best of all, you can bring your own snacks!

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