Save Money On Family Movie Nights

One of the activities we do as a family is family movie nights. Every Friday, and occasionally on other days throughout the week depending on our schedule we will watch a  movie together as a family.  Mrs. C.  makes some popcorn and the kids have some juice boxes.  The kids all bring down their blankets and pillows and we relax in the living room watching a movie.  Although this is a fairly inexpensive Friday night, we have found a few ways to save money on family movie nights.


1. Buying VHS Movies:

Save Money On Family Movie NightThis may sound crazy, but I own a working VCR and I have probably 50 VHS movies in my collection.  A primary reason is the Disney Vault.  Disney selectively releases their movies in order to create scarcity and limit the number of SKUs they have out at once.  Go on Amazon and look up some of your Disney favorites.  If you can find them on DVD chances are you are looking at around $20 for most of them, while some like Beauty and the Beast are outrageous, at over $100. I picked up 2 VHS copies of Beauty and The Beast for 50 cents each (sometimes I grab an extra if available to reduce the risk of having a non-working copy).

Back around the start of this year while at a 50% off sale at our local thrift store I picked up a DVD / VHS combo and 5 movies for under $20.  I figured even if I only watch these 4 movies, I’m still saving money over buying these movies from other sources.  Since then I’ve been systematically acquired Disney classic movies by picking them up at thrift stores and garage sales.  My local thrift store charges $1 for old VHS tapes and once a month they have a 50% off sale.  I recently stopped by a store in Indiana and between their special discount that was going on and their normally low prices I picked up 2 VHS tapes for 38 cents.

The only problem I have with VHS tapes is they take up about 3 times the space as DVDs.  Currently I have them stored across 3 locations.  Some are on a bookshelf, some are in our movie cabinet, and some are in our cleaning supply closet.  At some point I would like to consolidate all of them.  The vast majority of these VHS tapes have worked very well and I have only come across one that did not work.

This is by far the biggest way to save money we have found for family movie night.  I can usually pick up 3 – 4 movies from our thrift store a week.  Currently we have about a dozen older kids movies they haven’t seen yet. As time goes on we will have picked up virtually all of the kids movies that have been released on VHS, but at that point we would have already saved more than enough money to make it worth it.


2. Check Out Movies From The Library: 

Another way we save money on family movie night is by renting movies at no cost from one of our local library.  Our library has a decent selection of kids movies on both DVD and VHS.  If your library does not rent movies perhaps you have access to other libraries.  The library that services our small town is extremely small, but several libraries in our area participate in a program called MI-library, which allows residents of different municipalities to use each others libraries.  Right now there are 7 libraries in our county in the program. It’s the larger library in Benton Harbor that we can borrow movies from.

3. Renting From Redbox:

I think just about everyone does this,  when new releases come out Redbox is my first stop.  They charge $1.50 for movies per night, which is still a very good deal. I signed up for their mailing list and at least once a month I will receive an email with coupon codes that are usually rent 1 for $1.50 get one rental free.

4. Watching In The Theater:

We rarely go to see movies in the theater, because the cost is fairly high.  Normal ticket prices for a family of 6 at the closest theater to my house, Celebration Cinema, is around $50.  A couple times during the year they have what they call Flick’s Family Film Fest, in which they play a different relatively new kids movie each week, and kids get in free, while adults pay $5 for their tickets.  $10 for a family movie in the theater is a great deal, and it gives us practice for getting the little kids used to the theater.  Usually the daytime showings for these are very low turnout.  I have been to a showing with only a dozen people in it.

If we must see a new movie in the theater, the theater in my old home town is relatively inexpensive. They charge less than half what the big theater charges.  We can see a matinee for $4 each, drinks are 50 cents each, and we paid $3 for a refillable popcorn bucket that only costs 50 cents for each refill.  Check out the smaller theaters in your area like this, chances are they are less expensive and aren’t as packed. The tickets alone are half the cost of the big theater, and the popcorn and pop is way less expensive.

5. Saving Money On Popcorn:

We have always used the microwave popcorn for movie nights up until the last few months because,well it’s extremely easy.  Mrs. C. had wanted to get a popcorn popper for a while and we finally picked one up.  When buying microwave popcorn the pricing is around 12 cents per ounce of popcorn.  With a popcorn popper you can buy popcorn in bulk and it keeps forever.  We picked up a 50 pound bag for around $25 from Gordon Food Services.  This works out to just over 3 cents per ounce.  Microwave popcorn was costing us 4 times as much, and it tastes better, talk about a double win.

Overall we probably save a couple hundred bucks a year on family movie night by implementing these processes.  What’s more important to me than the money saved is that it provides frequent teachable moments to the kids about decision making and delayed gratification.  It shows them that if your willing to make some slight changes, it’s often possible to save 90% of the cost of something by buying used or obsolete. I also like the hunt for the old movies, it reminds me of my days going to Funcoland to expand my original NES collection.

Do you have family movie nights at your house?  How do you get your movies?

John C. started Action Economics in 2013 as a way to gain more knowledge on personal financial planning and to share that knowledge with others. Action Economics focuses on paying off the house, reducing taxes, and building wealth. John is the author of the book For My Children's Children: A Practical Guide For Building Generational Wealth.

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