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28 tips to save money when going out


Because you shouldn't have to say goodbye to your social life.

Inflation sucks.

Feeling the pinch and thinking of changing your spending habits? You're not the only one.

New research by Finder found that 85% of Aussies would cut back on spending in certain areas to counteract the rising cost of living.

Where are we shaving expenses? You guessed it: luxuries.

Of those surveyed, 22% are saying goodbye to eating out, with 9% planning to ditch trips to the pub.

If this is your plan too then life is about to get pretty boring pretty fast.

But it doesn't have to.

We share with you some clever ways you can save when going out.

Eating out

1. Be inspired with deal sites

If you're not picky over where you go, check out daily deals sites such as Groupon and Scoopon where meal deals can be up to 71% off.

2. Eat out on weekdays

Swap the weekend date night for a weekday date night and look for daily specials. Pubs often have a discounted dish of the day BUT it's usually Monday–Thursday only.

3. Pack a picnic

Relaxing and romantic – hit the shops for some cheese and cold meats, grab a bottle of wine and pack some plates and cutlery in a basket and lay a rug down in a favourite spot.

Toasting people

4. Drink only during happy hour

Pop by the pub or bar during happy hour and make the most of cheap drinks. To really rein in your spending, make a point of only buying drinks during happy hour.

5. Don't utter the words "I'll get this round"

Unpopular one, but not buying rounds is a solid one.
– James Martin, insurance editor at Finder

A night out can quickly become a blow-out when you start offering to get the next round of drinks. If you really want to shout your mates a cold one, head to the bottle-o, buy a slab of beer and invite them over. You'll thank your wallet later.

6. Dine at places that BYO

Hands down, it's cheaper to buy your own bottle and pay for corkage than fork out for a bottle from a restaurant's shelf.

7. Use discounted food gift cards

When on sale, buy The Good Food, Uber Eats and Gourmet Traveller gift cards to save a little extra on your food bill. Coles and Woolworths sell these and more.

In the past, Giftz has also taken 10% off select gift cards.

8. Eat out during TheFork Festival

This foodie festival sees stacks of restaurants and cafes take 50% off your bill. It happens around April–May so keep it in mind for next year. That's the big one, but during the year TheFork still has discounts going for it. Right now, it has 30% off the a la carte menu at select restaurants and set menu deals. Check out the special offers tab for the latest.

9. Attend an art exhibition launch

Small galleries often host launches that are open to the public. You'll get to talk to the artist and fellow art lovers, see new art and yes, most of the time there will be free nibbles and drinks.

A playful father and son sharing a bloom of candy floss while spending the day at the fun fair together.

Attractions and experiences

10. Look for free entry

Major art galleries and museums offer free entry to their general exhibitions. Here's a short list to get you started:

  • Sydney: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA), State Library of NSW, Australian Museum
  • Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), State Library Victoria, The Australian Music Vault
  • Brisbane: Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Queensland Museum and Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium
  • Adelaide: South Australian Museum, Migration Museum, Art Gallery of South Australia
  • Canberra: Australian War Memorial, Parliament House, National Museum ($5 donation is suggested)
  • Perth: WA Museum Boola Bardip, Museum of Perth, WA Shipwrecks Museum ($5 donation suggested)
  • Hobart: Museum of Old and New Art (MONA, free for Tasmanians), Salamanca Arts Centre (some free events), Art Mob, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG)
  • Darwin: Museum and Art Gallery of the NT, Mason Gallery, Aboriginal Fine Arts Gallery, Outstation Gallery

11. Don't buy at the gate

Know where you want to go? Being prepared could save you some dosh as many attractions offer cheaper rates by booking online. This also means you can skip the queue.

12. Compare experience booking sites

Experience sites RedBalloon, Adrenaline and Klook often have sitewide discounts which can take dollars off your activity or admission fee.

To make it easier for you, check Finder's things to do guide for all the latest deals on experiences and activities across these brands and more.

13. Become an annual member

Find yourself going to the same theme parks, zoos or attractions time and time again? See if they have a yearly membership to bring those dollars down.

  • Sea World, Movie World, Wet'n'Wild and Paradise Country: 12-month unlimited entry to all 4 attractions for $249. Includes entry to select special events.
  • Zoos SA: 12-month unlimited entry to Monarto Safari Park, Adelaide Zoo and most major Australian Zoos for $120.
  • Zoos Victoria: 12-month unlimited entry to Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary, Werribee Open Range Zoo and most major Aussie zoos for $126.
  • Taronga Conservation Society: Visit Taronga Zoo Sydney or Western Plains Zoo Dubbo year-round for $99. Families can buy a Flex Adult pass for $110 which lets any adult take the kids along. Free entry to most major Australian zoos included.
  • Perth Zoo: 12-month entry to Perth Zoo and its partner zoos for $88.
  • Merlin Annual Pass: Access 10 attractions around Australia for $80 a year. This includes SEA LIFE, Fly Treetop Adventures, Madame Tussauds, WILD LIFE Sydney and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre.

14. Flash your credit card benefits

American Express, Mastercard and Visa all have programs packed with special offers and rewards.

  • Amex: August is Membership Month and cardholders can tuck into deals across dining, travel, wellness and shopping. There's 15% off select restaurants, $50 cashback on car hire and more.
  • Visa: Visa's offers and perks span experiences, travel, food, shopping, beauty and sport. Current offers include 22% off cinema tickets, $20 off Bookme experiences of $100+ and 15% off Klook on Visa Weekends.
  • Mastercard: Priceless gives Mastercard holders access to deals on travel, experiences, food, shopping and more.

15. Get across all your other membership benefits

From roadside assistance and unions to telcos, superannuation and health insurance – almost anything you have a membership for often has a section about discounts or rewards. Spare some time to check them out and see what savings you're missing out on. Popular ones include RACV, NRMA, RAC, Bupa, Rest, Employment Hero and SDA.

16. Use your Parents NSW vouchers

If you're in NSW and have school-aged kids, you'll have a bank of $250 Parents NSW vouchers to use. These are made up of 5 $50 vouchers that can be put towards experiences and accommodation. Cinemas, theatres and top attractions all accept them as do RedBalloon, Adrenaline and Klook.

Woman singing into microphone, low angle view

Events and festivals

17. Attend free events

Across the country, libraries and bookstores host free talks and shopping centres run free kids' activities over the school break.

Not sure where to start? Check out your council or city's official website for events and things to do and filter by "free events".

In Melbourne, the City of Stonnington and Glen Eira City often have free events while in Sydney the City of Parramatta always has family-fun activities.

18. Volunteer your time at festivals

Film, music, writers' and light festivals often need volunteers to help them run the show. You could be doing anything from ushering and front-of-house enquiries to cleaning up and handing out maps and flyers and you'll get free access to performances in return.

When I lived in Vancouver, I volunteered for the Fringe Festival and got to see so much theatre for free.
– Amy Bradney-George, acting editor, credit cards, Finder X and Finder Green at Finder

Screenwave International Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival and Sydney Film Festival are a few big names that do call-outs for volunteers.

Check the websites or look for volunteer gigs on job boards.

CROWD APPLAUDING in the cinema


19. Look for ticket deals

Groupon constantly has discounts on Event cinema tickets and candy bar eats. Right now, you can score 2 adult tickets for $34.50 or a kids ticket for $14. Heading to Reading Cinemas? Give yourself a treat with this $13.50 meal combo.

20. Catch a flick on cheap days

Most cinemas have a cheap day. This is typically on a Monday or Tuesday. Here's a list:

  • Event Cinemas: Half-price Tuesdays for Cinebuzz members (free to join)
  • Hoyts: $11 movies on Tuesdays for eBay members (free to sign up)
  • Dendy: $10 movies on Tuesdays. Reel Bubs sessions on Thursday and Friday mornings are $10 and you don't have to have a baby to attend. Be warned though that it could get noisy.
  • Cinema Nova, Carlton: $7 tickets on Tuesday during the day and $10 at night.
  • Palace Cinemas: $10 tickets on Tuesdays for members or $12 for non-members
  • The Ritz: $8 tickets on Tuesday for members, $12 for non-members, $10 for seniors

21. Make the most of your memberships

Stacks of memberships come with bonus deals, many of which include discounted movie tickets.

  • Telstra Plus: Up to 40% off Event Cinema tickets
  • Foxtel Rewards: $11.50 tickets on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Hoyts
  • eBay: $11 movies every Tuesday at Hoyts
  • Booktopia: $16.50 tickets for Thursday sessions at Palace Cinemas
  • RACV: $9 movies on Mondays at Village Cinemas, up to 30% off at Hoyts, Palace, Village, Event, Moonlight and IMAX
  • NRMA: Up to 35% off Event and up to 48% off regional cinemas

22. Sign up to movie rewards program

Sign up for your preferred cinema's loyalty program. Benefits include discounted tickets or free movies once you've seen a certain number of movies with them.

23. Search for free outdoor movie nights

When the weather warms up, outdoor cinemas take over. Many are ticketed, but many are also absolutely free. This includes Laneway Cinema at The Rocks, Outdoor Cinema at Sydney Olympic Park and Fed Summer Films in Federation Square.

Five ballerinas en pointe on stage, arms around each other, rear view

Theatre and shows

24. Download the TodayTix app

The TodayTix app is your one-stop shop for cheap theatre tickets. It has last-minute rush tickets, no-fee tickets and flash sales for big and small name productions.

25. Ask for a discount (no, seriously)

Can't find any discounts? Take matters into your own hands and call up the box office 30–40 minutes before a performance and ask if there are any last-minute tickets. They may also tell you of any current promotions or cheap days.

26. Enter a lottery

Feeling lucky? Lotteries for super cheap seats are becoming more popular and if lady luck is on your side, you could score some great seats for a fraction of the price. Right now, you can score tix to Moulin Rouge for $30, Mary Poppins for $45, Hamilton for $10 and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for $40.

27. Book a preview performance

Before productions officially open, there are often 2–4 days of preview performances that sell for less. Yes, you might see some teething issues but overall they do try to give you the best performance possible.

The price difference can be significant. It's $58 to get a preview ticket for STC's next show (Jekyll and Hyde) and between $80 and $116 during the season.
– Amy Bradney-George, acting editor, credit cards, Finder X and Finder Green

28. Buy season passes

If you find yourself heading to the same theatre multiple times in the year, see if it has a season pass. You'll have to commit to a certain number of shows but they will be at a cheaper rate than buying them individually.

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