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5 ideas for frugal evening entertainment

By Paula Pant ·
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Posted: 2 pm ET

Few people want to spend every Friday and Saturday night sitting in their living room. But getting out of the house to enjoy your city or town can be costly. What can you do?

Here are five ideas for free or frugal evening entertainment that don't involve dropping $20 or more at the bar, nightclub or restaurant.

1. Enjoy a night hike

Do you live in an area that has hiking or walking trails open to the public 24 hours a day? If so, lace up your hiking boots, grab a warm layer and enjoy a moonlit night hike or walk.

Just three caveats: Bring a headlamp or flashlight, tell someone where you're going and only do this if the trail is safe.

2. Go to a comedy club

If you live in a major city, check out local comedy clubs -- particularly the venues where amateurs perform. Many of these venues offer free admission, although it is common to require you to order a minimum of two drinks. It is fine to buy water or Coca-Cola if you prefer. Just make sure to tip well.

3. Take in a drive-in movie

Drive-in movie theaters can be substantially cheaper than a trip to the actual cinema. Many charge flat rates "per car" of between $10 and $15. That means you can pile the whole family into your vehicle -- five or six people -- and catch a flick at close to $2 or $3 per person.

Prices vary, of course, so check the rates at your town's local drive-in to see if it's a frugal alternative.

4. Rotate get-togethers at friends' homes

You're not the only one who wants to get out of the house without spending too much money. Many of your friends might have the same goal.

Find four friends who want to take part in a rotating weekly get-together. Each of you take a turn "hosting" one night per month, and going to each other's homes the other three nights per month.

5. Hit the gym

Plenty of gyms are open 24 hours. Spending a Friday or Saturday evening at the gym can be a great way to get out of the house, entertain yourself and stay healthy.

Treat yourself to an extra-long session in the gym's sauna or steam room. After all, it's the weekend.

Paula Pant helps people ditch the cubicle and live on their own terms. She's traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental property units and hasn't had an employer since 2008. Her blog, "Afford Anything," is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say "I can't afford it." Follow Paula on Twitter: @AffordAnything.


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August 24, 2014 at 8:09 am

We still have a historic drive-in here in the metro Detroit area and Compuware has been hosting a local pop up drive-in at their store parking lot.
Nothing stopping people from buying their own digital projectors and hosting an outdoor movie night for friends and families! They have become very affordable and would pay for their self after a few parties!
Just remember Pete, a bottle of bubbles only cost a dollar!

August 23, 2014 at 11:52 pm

I agree with Pete. No drive-ins around here for about twenty years. They were fun. How about combining the two suggestions and rent or buy a movie and invite friend,have dinner, and then everyone take turns.

August 23, 2014 at 10:55 pm

"Prices vary, of course, so check the rates at your town's local drive-in to see if it's a frugal alternative."

Ummm, this isn't the 50s or even the 80s. Most drive in's were sold to real estate developers. There are still some around, maybe 20% of what used to be around. But in my case 4 were town down within 10 miles, and the closest is 50 miles away. There are web sites that document this.