Over the years we have found many ways to save a lot of money on entertainment. Here are some of them.
Pay-what-you-will, preview, rush or restricted view tickets
At the start of the run for many shows there is a pay-what-you-will night. Also, check for theatres in your area that sell rush tickets during the last few minutes before a show. I’ve bought rush tickets at Portland Center Stage for years and although you are warned there is a chance you won’t get a ticket I’ve always gotten one. To help your chances check for availability of seats online before you make the trip and try and be there early as there is usually a queue. Some theatres sell ‘restricted view’ seats. I’ve purchased these for around $20 and found myself literally sitting beside people who had paid over $100 for a ticket on more than one occasion. Usually “restricted view” means that a small portion of the left or right rear corner of the stage (where little is happening) is not visible to you. I never felt I missed seeing anything with these seats.
For most Classical and Pops Series concerts, the Oregon Symphony offers half-price rush tickets for seniors (age 62 and over). Senior rush tickets are available starting two hours before eligible performances, in the lobby of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. All seating sections in the concert hall are eligible for this discount except Dress Circle. Check online for offers where you live.
Take advantage of senior discounts to visit museums and theatre. Find out theatre rules. Senior tickets for $20 each go on sale for Portland Opera but you can only purchase them up to two hours before the show. Some theatres have senior rates that you can purchase in advance.
Art museums usually have special rates for seniors and free days.
The largest movie chain in our area, and most other movie theaters as well, offer discounted movie tickets to seniors. I’m not even sure what the minimum age is. I just ask for the ticket and I look old enough so they give it to me without asking for proof of age.
Cheap days or Free days
Art museums usually have free days. Portland Museum offers free museum admission on the first Thursday of every month from 5 – 8 p.m. The Museum also offers free admission and special family programming several times a year.
Also check out programs such as Bank of America Museums on Us where you can visit the Museum on the first full weekend of each month and show your Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card for complimentary Museum admission.
Our local Regal cinema has cheap movies every Tuesday for $5 admission for first run movies, so we typically wait until Tuesdays to see a new movie instead of paying twice as much on another day.
Cheap Late-Run Movie Theaters
Several movie theaters in our area show movies that are late in their release runs for much cheaper prices. Two nearby theaters show late-run movies for $4. They both also offer $1 movies ($2 for 3D) one day per week. We go on the $1 nights whenever they have something we want to see. Look for these types of theaters in your area.
Discount Offers, Groupon, Half-Price, Living Social
Sometimes credit cards offer special pricing to events. A few years ago I was able to purchase tickets to Cirque du Soleil at a fraction of the regular price thanks to an offer from American Express.
Subscribe to Groupon, Half-Price, and Living Social and get a contant stream of emails for discounts on all sorts of things. These are particularly good for restaurants, spa visits and massages, wine tastings, beauty sessions, yoga and fitness sessions, hotel and resort discounts, tickets to special events, tickets to entertainment parks, as well as discounts on golf, bowling, and other activities. We’ve used these in the past year for cheap massages, wine tasting, distillery tours and other things.
Volunteer at theatres and festivals
Volunteering is a great way to help out an organization you believe in and also enjoy the entertainment. Over the years, I have volunteered, usually as an usher, at several local theatres which allows me to see plays and musicals for free. I still usher regularly at one nearby theatre. Dennis volunteered as an usher at the Portland Jazz Festival for several years and was able to see many free concerts while doing that. Sometimes when volunteering you may be assigned work that prevents you from seeing the show, so be prepared for this and know that you are helping a good cause. But most of the time you can specify your preference for the type of work you want to do and ushering will usually allow you to see the shows as part of the job.
Senior Discounts on Classes
Our local community college offers classes at 50% discount for tuition to people 62 and older for community education courses, which includes classes on many fun activities like drawing, painting, ceramics, cooking, photography, writing, jewelry making, languages, dancing, knitting, sewing & quilting, music, and so on. There is also 100% tuition waiver for credit course audits, subject to availability and other restrictions such as space and you need to get permission from the instructor to audit the class. Also, there is a Senior Studies Institute where for $30 a year seniors have a say in the lectures and other offerings and can participate in 435+ lectures and classes. Portland State University waives tuition for courses audited by an Oregon resident 65 years of age or older subject to space availability, instructor approval and if the auditing student is a non-degree-seeking student registered for 8 or fewer credits. Check out offerings at your local colleges.
Use the Library
I spend a lot of my leisure time reading and watching movies on DVD. I’ve cut way back on my book purchases as books were taking over the house. Now I try to get the book from the library first and if I really love it and know I will read again I will buy it then. Dennis loves his e-reader and I will probably use one when travelling but I think I will always prefer actual books. Oregon is full of the most wonderful new and second hand bookstores. Enjoy a few hours browsing. I budget and limit myself to buying books that I’ve wanted for some time that are not available in the local library or that I’ve read and still want a copy of.
Consider if you want (or need) cable television as it can be very expensive. We went from having cable with a bunch of premium channels to basic plus cable to no cable and really haven’t felt the loss. We subscribe to Netflix and Hulu Plus and get some movies from the library. This costs us about $100 per month less than having cable TV. You can’t put Netflix on hold when travelling but you can switch to the cheapest plan per month or cancel and then start up again when you come back. You can put Hulu Plus on hold for up to 12 weeks but we’ll probably just cancel our membership and re-join when we return.
Free Concerts and other events
Universities and community colleges frequently have free recitals, symphony and band concerts, operas, festivals and master classes. Check the college websites for these. Churches are another great places to hear free concerts, often classical music performances, but sometimes also jazz and other genres as well.
Our local newspaper entertainment supplement has a section devoted to free stuff to do each week. It lists street fairs, parades, art gallery shows, concerts in the parks, wine, beer and whiskey festivals, seasonal celebrations, farmers markets, among many other activities.
Enjoy the Outdoors
Just being out in nature and enjoying time at beauty spots like the waterfalls in Oregon, mountains, lakes, beaches, parks is probably the best of all and depending on where you live it may not cost you much to get there. I have a friend who purchases the Portland Metro Honored Citizen bus pass (available for those 65+) for $28 a month, instead of driving, and makes great use of it, more for entertainment than for her necessary shopping and other trips. She takes daytrips to the perimeters of the metro area on different bus lines when she wants to get away from the bustle of the city, see big empty green fields and enjoy some solitude.