Frugal Family Fun: 11 Ways to Watch Movies for Less
You can buy, borrow, stream, or rent movies nowadays. You can even go to a real theater and watch movies. But if you're not careful, all that movie watching can take an out-sized bite from your budget.
Here, from cheapest to most expensive, are 11 ways to watch movies in the 21st century:
* Borrow from the library. It's free, and you'd be surprised how many titles they have.
* Swap with friends. Another freebie! If you're the organizing type, get together a movie swap at work or playgroup. The more subtle types will just start giving movies away, hoping someone gets the hint and reciprocates.
* Free viewings. Community centers and other groups often show movies for free. Look in the newspaper or on the library bulletin board, for starters.
* Garage sales and thrift shops. Almost every garage sale has a box of movies for sale. If you still have a VHS player, you might find free movies! If you turn around and sell them at your own garage later, score this one as free.
* Amazon Prime streaming. For $79, you can stream from among thousands of movies and TV shows on any whim for a full year. That's $1.52 per week - hard to beat.
* Hulu. Watch TV shows and movies on your computer for free. For a couple of bucks per week, you can expand your selection and watch movies on game consoles and practically every electronic device you carry around. Hulu programming does contain commercials.
* Video rental stores. They still exist - and they're not a bad deal compared to buying movies or going to the theater. Their prices have come down, and some of them let you watch as many movies as you want for a monthly fee.
* Netflix or other DVD-by-mail companies. The attraction of Netflix is that you never pay late fees. However, if you're paying by the month and you have the same DVD on the counter the whole time, it might as well be a late fee.
* Buy it new. For less than $20, you can buy a movie - at the grocery store if you want. It's still not a bad deal compared to the next higher option.
* Cable. Here's where it starts getting pricier. $65 to $75 per month is an average bill, and the deluxe package can be twice that. And the temptation is to "get your money's worth" by watching too much. It's the cruise ship buffet line of video watching.
* Theaters. We hope you shop around, use coupons, and get the matinee pricing. Give yourself extra credit if you fill the kids up so they can't eat another bite before you go to the theater, and you find a Tuesday night $2 special. (Some of our kids never knew you could eat in a theater.) Going out to the movies is still an event. And the less often you indulge in it, the bigger that event will seem