(NEW YORK) — Treating yourself or the family to a night of entertainment can be a pricey venture, but there are ways to keep more money in your wallet.
The average American family spends $1,367 per year on fees and admissions. Spending on entertainment defined more broadly tops $4,086, which is a fair chunk of change.
For the Alena family of Princeton, N.J., movie night has become a regular family event.
“Every time there’s a new kid’s movie, we’re there within the opening week,” said Minda Alena.
But when you add in concession stand snacks and dinner, those blockbusters can turn into huge budget busters.
“It can get very expensive,” said Bill Alena. “Well over $100.”
To find out how to save on your next outing, ABC News enlisted family finance expert Farnoosh Torabi to pay the Alena family a visit, armed and ready with some real money secrets.
1. Buy your movie tickets in bulk, in advance.
You don’t have to stand in line. Buy your tickets online at the movie chains themselves or at warehouses for much less. On a recent trip to Costco, ABC News found discounted movie tickets priced at $15.99 for two people. Based on the Alena families’ local box office price, that saves their family 20 percent.
2. Maximize your club memberships.
Many theatres offer membership affiliation discounts that can add up to big savings. For example, one theatre offered 30 percent off with an AAA membership. But you have to call AAA.
3. Buy unwanted movie gift cards for a steep discount.
Gift cards can be used for tickets and concessions. Experts told ABC News that is where markups can be upwards of 1,000 percent. To find discounted gift cards, visit Plasticjungle.com or giftcardgranny.com.
The Alena family spends roughly $2,600 a year on movies, including snacks and dinner. By taking advantage of some of these tips, ABC News’ experts estimate they can save upwards of 30 percent, or $780.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Seth Fiegerman, CNN