Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Lights...Camera...Money Saving Action!

There's something special about movies. Whether it's a comedy you can relate some awkward moments too, a sci-fi or action adventure movie to escape to another world in, or maybe a drama to get the ol' waterworks going, movies are a great way to unwind, relax, and have some fun. The problem though, is to go out to a theater, you need to either get a second job or perhaps get a third mortgage on the house. A family of four could easily spend $80-$100 for a night at the movies...between tickets, popcorn, candy and drinks.

There is always the home rental end, which while it lacks the "energy" of being in a theater with a crowd, has many benefits. No talking moviegoers, no one kicking the back of your chair, and no stepping on something on the floor you're afraid to look at. Plus, you won't miss anything if you have to head to the toxic wasteland of movie theater restrooms. But, it can get expensive as well, though it is cheap, compared to going to the theater. Our local video store charges about $5 a rental, but you do get to keep it for 5 days, so it comes out to about a buck a day, but still, there has to be a way to save more money. Below, you'll find several options on enjoying the movie experience, while keeping your wallet happy.

The two biggest movie by mail are Netflix and BlockBuster. Both offer plans that allow you to create an online list of movies you want to watch (they also have tv series on DVD), and as those titles are available, they will send you the dvd. there is no late fees or cost for returning...both companies include a postage paid return envelope when you are done. When the movie is returned, they send another one on your list, up to the monthly maximum your plan allows. Netflix has a plan starting at $4.99 a month, but it is only one dvd at a time, with a monthly maximum of 2 dvd's. You also get 2 hours worth of movie watching you can watch on your home computer. They have other plans,where you can get up to 4 dvd's at one time, and have unlimited viewing of movies on your pc. Blockbuster has a plan starting at $3.99, with one dvd out at a time, with a limit of 2 dvd's a month. Other plans allow for more dvd's out at a time, with the benefit of in-store exchanges. Some of the in store exchange plans limit you to a set limit each month, while others allow unlimited exchanges. Just figure out how many movies you watch a month on average, and figure out which plan suits you best. The only real downfalls to the plans are that you get your selections in random you may be in the mood for a comedy, but what you got was a romance. Still, if you watch a lot of movies, it's a great deal to maximize your monthly entertainment allowance.

Next you have Red Box and The New Release. Both are dvd vending machines you can find at your local grocery store, like Wal-Mart or Kroger. Basically, you pick what you want from the touch screen display, then all you do is swipe your debit or credit card, and it dispenses the movie for you. Just return it to the machine whenever. At a cost of only $1 a day, it's hard to beat, especially if you remember to return it the next day. No late fees, and your card doesn't get debited or charged until the movie is returned. This is what my wife and I use the most, as we can choose what we want, and not get a selection by random. However, keep the dvd too long, and they will charge you as a purchase.

One way to catch some movies, without spending a lot of money, is to check out your local pawn shops or hobby stores. Our local ones take movies in on trade or loan, and then they can be bought for a dollar or two, sometimes a little more. Also, our chain rental store sells excess copies after the new release stampede wears off, and you can get a decent used copy for less than what it cost to rent it This way you can build your own library at home, without spending more than you would have rented that same title for.

Finally, check out your local library. Ours has a large selection of classic and new release movies for kids, teens, and adults...spanning every genre. And the best part is, no rental fee (other than our taxes, which we have to pay anyway), and we get to keep the movie for a week. I find this a great place to check out a movie that may be kind of cheesy, and not worry about whether or not I'm getting my money's worth.

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