College student budget: Tips on finding cheap entertainment ideas both on and off campus

Inexpensive entertainmentThe idea of going to a concert or performance on a college student budget isn’t terribly appealing! You probably have a laundry list of shows you’d love to check out, but it’s a luxury that (you think) you just can’t afford. With a little know-how though, you can fit culture into your life without burning a hole in your pocket. Cheap entertainment ideas can be found both on and off campus — it’s just up to you to go out there and find it! Follow these tips and you may not ever have to pay full price again — that is, until you graduate.

Hit up your student union

Almost every college campus has its own student union, and while you are probably familiar with its food and retail stores, you may not be aware that there are tickets available for every show on campus — usually at a highly discounted student rate. The tickets can be for everything from sporting events to plays and concerts by big name artists. In addition, the seats are often stellar — if you buy far enough in advance. Remember, a portion of your tuition goes to support this on-campus service, so take advantage of it!

In a September 27, 2010, post to Wise Bread, “9 Places to Get Student Discounts,” writer Elizabeth Lang suggests keeping an eye out for “student discounts at your student union” for movie tickets, museum passes, and other special offers available only to students.

The beauty of rush tickets

One of the most convenient and cost-saving options for both on and off campus entertainment is rush tickets. Many performance venues open their doors the day of the performance up to two hours before curtain to sell these leftovers — which are strictly on a first-come, first-served basis. The beauty is that you might find discounts of more than half off the original ticket price. Of course the downside of this option is not being able to plan on seeing the event in advance. However, you may get to see an awesome show at a fraction of the cost!

Discount in numbers

Do you enjoy the theater? Jazz? The symphony? If so, smaller venues may offer discounts if you gather a group of your friends together to see a show. The more people you bring, the more substantial the discount. Call around and ask if there is a group discount. This is a great opportunity to hang out with like-minded friends and save some dough at the same time.

Online discounts

Of course there’s always deals to be found online:

  • Craigslist — you can buy from those who are selling tickets they can’t use.
  • StubHub — a site that allows fans to sell their tickets with the added security that the tickets are authenticated. The site even processes payments and ticketing — all you have to do is pay, print, and go! Since it’s a marketplace for fans, tickets are available for practically every local concert, sport, or theater performance in your area. You can also request price alerts so you don’t miss out on good deals.
  • eSeats.com — for the concert fanatics, this site lists every concert out there, including those smaller shows not sold by Live Nation or Ticketmaster. The tickets are sourced directly from the event organizers, venue, or members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers.

Score movie ticket deals

Last, but not least, if you are a movie buff, finding discount ticket deals this year just got better. According to a July 22, 2012, article by Jacqui Boyle for the Dayton Daily News, “Save money at the movies; Average ticket cost $7.92 last year. – Theaters offer deals on admission, food and drinks,” theaters are offering more savings through deals such as “Bargain Tuesdays.” Keep your eyes peeled on savings like this and you can definitely make time for fun more often. Happy bargain hunting!

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