How to take your kids to the movies and not empty your wallet.

Ok, I don’t want to tell you how to live your life. Especially when it involves choc tops.

But when I heard that Mia Freedman took three kids to the movies on the weekend and it cost her $270, this be mah face:


Because the movies can be fun, but if you're not prepared it can burn a big hole in your pocket.

Consider this a guide of what NOT to do: (post continues after audio):

There's a better way. Full price tickets are for chumps, and the Candy bar is like a Casino poker machine room.  You think, 'Oh, it's just a bit of fun, I'll just take a look', but before you know it the mirrors, shiny surfaces, blinking lights and nattily-dressed attendants will swallow your money and leave you feeling slightly dirty.

Here's how to beat the system: Be prepared.

Book online and Google "Hoyts/Event Cinemas movie discount code" etc.

There are entire internet sites out there dedicated to snagging you a bargain if you just Google whatever it is you want to buy followed by "discount code".

Look at sites like Groupon for discounts

Two tickets for $20 is a pretty regular occurrence. (You might have to go on a Monday or Tuesday).

Don't go at peak times

Matinee sessions can be cheaper. Off peak times are cheaper. They're also better because there aren't horny teenagers feeling each other up in the back seats on a Saturday night

Find the Entertainment Book. (It's probably on top of the fridge)

This fat coupon book is full of discounts for savvy savers and you've probably got one in the house that you've forgotten about, haven't you. You started out the year full of ambitious discounting but now it's just getting dusty on the top of the fridge or buried in a pile of bills. Dig it out. Or if you have a friend that has one, go over to their house and drink a pot of tea with them and when they're inevitably in the toilets having a wee, rip out that page and run.

How you get tricked into buying more in stores. (Post continues after video)


Sign up to movie rewards programs

For about $12 bucks (you sometimes get a free movie ticket as part of it so it pays for itself), you can be part of the cinema rewards club and get big discounts, rack up points to get free movies, all for the cost of your personal details, which everyone has anyway by now, right?

Work your memberships

Some health fund providers, car insurance companies, credit unions, even BANKS provide discounts of up to 25% and all you have to is flash your membership card before you flash your credit card. Anyone with Bupa, RAA, RACV, Members Unity, you guys are sweet. Likewise, if you are with Optus you can buy $11.50 movie tickets for Hoyts and Palace and with Telstra you get them with Event Cinemas. Work all times except for Saturday after 5pm. Solved.

Go to the Drive-In instead.

Yes, they exist. Yes, they're awesome. Most of them charge by the car load and you can take as much food as you like. And, often they are DOUBLE movie sessions. Nostalgia, your own food, and seats that recline all the way. Honk if you love bang for your buck.

Keep talking, woah keep talking.

Eat before you go.

Make sure you stomach is full before you step into the theatre. You know you''ll be less likely to be forced into the temptation vortex created by the smell of hot, buttered popcorn.

Smuggle your own food and drinks in.

It's against the rules, so do it at your own discretion, but BYO, baby. Let the kids loose in the lolly aisle at the supermarket and let them choose their own bag. Bring along your own bottled water/softie. Get a multi-pack of popcorn at the supermarket and dole them out instead. Just wait until the light go down to bust out your contraband, and don't overdo it by bringing in an entire Domino's pizza.

OK but what if you LOVE extremely huge buckets of popcorn and it's part of the whole experience?

Get a big one and split it amongst everybody. You're already paying a crazy price anyway so what's 50cents more for a swimming pool sized carton? Sharing is caring. And don't be afraid to take it home with you later as a reminder that you're living like a king.

OK what about choc tops you psycho, don't take my choc top away from me.

Listen, I'm not the choc-top police. Have your choc top if you must. You know, you CAN make them at home.  But on this occasion, treat yo'self. Enjoy it, safe in the knowledge you've just hopefully saved money on everything else.

The Mamamia Out Loud podcast is a weekly show where there's no such thing as too much information. The full episode is here, or subscribe in itunes so you can listen every week: