Outside of your grocery budget, entertainment is one of the biggest areas of your spending plan that can easily get out of control. It’s so easy to spend hundreds of dollars on dining, drinks, and concerts all in the name of your social life. However, the amount of money you spend on entertainment does not directly correlate with the amount of enjoyment you get out of the event or spending time with friends and family. It’s all about the quality of the time you are spending with those closest to you. Entertainment doesn’t have to cost much to get the much-needed rest and relaxation we want to balance our busy lives.

Here are some of my favorite ways to save on entertainment so it doesn’t become a spending plan disaster:

Find discounts on new experiences. Discount apps, like Groupon and Living Social, have been around for a number of years yet, this is often a resource I forget to use. These apps provide discounts on dining, entertainment, and excursions and are a great way to try out new experiences in your area. There are even discounts on domestic and international vacation packages for those of us who are feeling particularly adventurous.

Find ways to go to the movies on the cheap. Movie Pass has become one of my favorite ways to save on movies. For a mere $10 a month, you can go see a feature film in the theater once a day. There are restrictions, such as no 3D features and you have to be at the theater to “purchase” your ticket but seeing one movie a month more than pays for the subscription. Other ways to save on going out to movies is to go to matinee times or special movie events at your local theater when they showcase classic movies – usually at a discount.

Check out free events in your community. There are tons of free events that happen right in your community that you can take part in. The easiest way I found to find these events is through Facebook local community groups and your local library or community center. In my local area, they have movie nights and free concerts at the local amphitheater. Also, check during the holiday seasons as many communities hold local events to celebrate.

Go outdoors. There are so many parks and green spaces that we pay for with our tax dollars – why not take advantage of these amenities? Suggest a bike ride with a friend or a walk in the park followed by a picnic lunch. Fresh air and exercise are added bonuses along with hanging out with friends.

Choose different times to dine out with friends. A great way to save money when you go out with friends is to choose happy hour time instead of prime dining time. You can order drinks at discounted prices and there is often a happy hour menu as well. Split a few appetizers and enjoy a few drinks and you can enjoy a night out with your friends that won’t leave you broke.

Host events in your home. Potluck nights at your home are a great way to connect with friends without having to go out. They are often more relaxed and low-key when you want that kind of vibe. Invite your friends over with a favorite dish and bust out the boards games for a fun evening hanging out.

What are some of your favorite ways to save on entertainment?