Movies and Saving Money

Netflix, Redbox, Brew & View, and Six Dollar Matinees

Let’s first just say that I love movies. If they had a job where all you do is watch movies, I would do anything for that job. Well, they do have that job, it’s called a movie critic. I don’t want to be a movie critic though… I would be a terrible movie critic. I enjoy probably around 95% of the movies that I watch, so any review I gave would just be too positive for most people. People would be excited to see something because I gave it a great review (this of course is if people actually cared about my opinion of movies), and then they would see it and say, “That was a total piece of crap.” There goes my movie critic career… down the drain.

I think the last movie that I truly disliked was the first Transformers movie that came out in 2007. I know, so many people loved this movie. For now I won’t get started on why I didn’t like this movie, but I could probably write an entire blog post on the issues I had with the movie. For the most part is was a combination of the story/plot and the fact that I grew up playing with Transformers, so I really was expecting a lot from this movie. Still, that’s five years and only one movie that I saw that I didn’t like… and I watch a good amount of movies.

Movies can be expensive though, and that is where my two worlds collide. We have the movie loving me and the frugal me. Frugal me doesn’t want to spend $12+ on a movie… add in a snack and possibly a drink and we’re already over $20. Side note: Why do movie theaters feel that they can charge so much for candy, popcorn and drinks? I feel like I’m at an airport or something (again, also overpriced). Anyway, I’m pretty sure this is the reason a lot of convenience stores (7-eleven, CVS, Walgreens) open up near movie theaters. I haven’t bought candy at a movie theater in years. Why would I spend $5 for a box of candy that I can get at Walgreens for $1.50. I should be careful what I say, or I’m pretty sure I’ll get searched the next time I got to the movies.

How Do I Save Money if I Like to Watch Movies?

People always say, “Well, you don’t have to go to the movies, you can just rent movies and that’s a lot cheaper.” True, it is, but I like going to the movie theater. There’s just something about seeing a movie in the theater… big screen, surround sound, annoying people on their phones. So, depending on whether it’s a new release or just an old movie that I want to see, here are some of the ways I save money…

New Releases I Have to See in the Theater

Let me first say, that I haven’t paid $12 for a movie in quite a while. The first thing I look at when I get on Fandango is the first showing of a movie. Yes, in Chicago, a lot of theaters have a wonderful little thing called the $6 matinee. If you see a movie that starts before noon you can see it for just $6! What’s the one thing I don’t like about movie theaters besides the cost? The crowds of obnoxious people. Well, the movie theater is never crowded at 10:00 in the morning. Here’s the plan (which is great for a rainy or cold day):

  • Wake up nice and early, but not too early
  • Hit up the convenience store for some cheap candy
  • Get tickets for the morning showing of your movie
  • Get out around noon and have the rest of your day to do what ever you want!

Older Movies I Can Watch at Home

Netflix. Yes, I still rely on Netflix for this even though a lot of people don’t care for it anymore. It works out well for me though. If you don’t watch a lot of movies and the little red Netflix envelopes collect dust on your entertainment center, then I would say that Netflix is not for you. I tend to watch a movie when I get it and it’s in the mail the next morning. Yes, I’m crazy like that. Here are some things I did to keep my Netflix bill at a reasonable amount:

  • I cut out the streaming service when they bumped up the prices (the movie selection through the streaming service is not really worth it, but if you like TV shows this is a good option)
  • I dropped my Blu-ray service. It’s something like $2 more a month, but there’s not always a huge difference between DVD and Blu-ray movies (especially newer movies). If I really want to see a movie in Blu-ray, I’ll get it at redbox (see below)
  • I increased my plan to 2 DVDs at a time. I know, that’s more money, but now I can watch around 12-14 movies a month. That’s less than $1 per movie.

Redbox. I don’t actually use this that often, but it does come in handy at times. Redbox is mainly all new releases… movies that just came out on DVD/Blu-ray. They’re also pretty cheap: $1.29 and up. The great thing about Redbox is the free movie codes they send out monthly. If you have a flexible schedule and time to watch a movie, some times redbox will send out a free movie code that you can use that day (unfortunately, it must be used that day). So far, I’ve purchased one movie from Redbox, but I’ve also watched three free movies!

Other Cheap Options

Brew & View at the Vic in Chicago. I just had my first movie experience at the Brew & View recently. It’s a great option for watching movies that are not new releases, but only a month or two old.
The pros: $5 and you can watch 1, 2 or sometimes 3 movies. You can buy alcohol.
The cons: Uncomfortable seats or a possible blocked view. People are drinking and can be loud at times.
They do sell candy and popcorn at the Brew & View as well. Don’t try to bring your own candy or drinks… they will check on your way in and if you have anything you’ll need to leave it at the door and pick it up later.

Internet Streaming Services. There are a ton out there, and I sort of feel like they all started with Hulu. I could be wrong about that though. If you do a search for “free streaming movies” you’ll get a pretty good list of websites. Happy searching.

If you’re a movie lover like me, I hope you can get out there and watch some movies… while saving some money at the same time. Enjoy my friends.

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