Saving Money With An Entertainment Book

Hot off our discussion last week of how to save money by spending money, Free Money Finance lists ways to save using an Entertainment Book. His list of tips includes the following:

1. Look through the entire book.
2. Record the offers you like. [Including] free or very low offers, no-brainer offers, offers to places you frequent often, price-matching offers and places you may want to try out.
3. Take extra steps to really maximize the use of the Entertainment Book. [Such as] plan around the book, look through the book before any trip/purchase and take the book with you when you’re out.

He’s saved $29 so far and thinks he can save $200 in a year. Maybe, maybe not. Time will tell.

What’s your take on the Entertainment Book? Worth the cost or just another rip-off fundraising vehicle?

How to Save Money Using an Entertainment Book [Free Money Finance]

FREE MONEY FINANCE

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  1. DarkKnightShyamalan says:

    Entertainment books are okay if you live in the sticks and go to mostly chain places. If you live in a major city, get a membership at your local public radio or TV station, which often provides you with lots of good merchant/restaurant discounts. In L.A., $50 a year gets you a KCRW membership, and you can save $500 or more in a year without even trying. Plus you’re supporting the station.

    • GreatCaesarsGhost says:

      @DarkKnightShyamalan: The Columbus book is just the opposite, very heavy on independent places. It’s somewhat suburb heavy, but then no more so than the Columbus restaurant scene.

      The big thing this year for me was 4 coupons for $5 off Meijer brand groceries. I buy those anyway, so that $20 paid the full price of the book.

    • youbastid says:

      @DarkKnightShyamalan: I have the L.A. book and it pays for itself + an extra $35 a year just from shopping at Ralph’s, where I go anyway. On top of that there are tons of coupons for independent places at all levels cost. Sure, there’s also McDonald’s, Chevy’s, Subway, and Tony Roma’s, but most of it is independent places.

  2. josephbloseph says:

    I’ve bought them over the last 2 years for the savings on Boston Bruins tickets (in the Boston area version, naturally). Between those and a couple of restaurants I actually go to, it’s easy to justify the buy.

  3. anker says:

    There is a way to purchase the coupon book for only five dollars to begin with using money saving websites along with cashbaq.

    That said, they do have some good deals.

  4. Synth3t1c says:

    If you only need a few coupons from the book you can get them for free. Entertainment offers a free trial: [www.entertainment.com]

  5. quail says:

    They work best if you share with others. My sister’s family and mine would buy one and share the coupons. The trick is to be able to look through the whole book before buying. After moving I discovered that not all coupon books are built the same.

  6. RBecho says:

    I got one in the Kansas City area last year and my wife and I used it some, enough to earn back what we spent on it but not much more.

    If you go out a lot, and are willing to try new stuff, it could save you a decent chunk of change. We just don’t go out that often, so we didn’t use it much.

  7. TheBusDriver says:

    I’ve had good luck using the book the past two years. They have 2 for 1 golf at most of the golf places around here, and the restaurant punch card is good at many nice restaurants (can visit each once and get 2 for 1 (they subtract one of the entrees.))

    Also they usually have two good radio shack coupons.

    But…if you buy one, at least go to fatwallet.com first and buy from their site – you get $5.50 in cash back, plus you can get it for 35% off the price (until the end of Feb).

  8. The_Red_Monkey says:

    I have bought them in the past and they have had some oil change discounts and what not. You really have to plan around the book to make it worth it.

  9. Gaambit says:

    My problem with this is that the ones I’ve seen around where I live (Athens, GA) only have coupons for places that are in Atlanta, which is about an hour away. Even if it is a chain, it is usually only redeemable in certain Atlanta locations. I’m sure this is an issue in other cities as well.

    • Ozyman says:

      @Gaambit: Exactly. I live near Denver (about an hour), and our book is 90% Denver. If you lived in Denver, it could be a fantastic deal, but we only go into to Denver 2-3 times a year to eat. There used to be 20-30 restaurants in my county also, but over the years, the book has become more and more Denver centric, to the point that we don’t bother buying it any more.

  10. drunkenwildmage says:

    Even if you have the book, you got to be somewhat selective when using it. Recently I found that with a National Hotel Chain, it was cheaper for the room using the their online registration discount compared to the 10% discount that entrainment subscribers get.

    On a side note: The one we have, has a lot of local restaurants in it, and sometimes we will randomly pick one just to try something new.

  11. Mike Stevenson says:

    My wife and I have gotten these for years, they really are a fantastic deal. They cost $15 locally, and you can easily make that money back in savings almost immediately.

  12. Kensuke Nakamura says:

    I got an entertainment book for $20 once. The cover said that 50 cents went to the charity, which seemed like a huge ripoff for the charity. I used a couple pizza coupons and some other things but then my girlfriend used the free oil change coupon and that alone made it worth the price. I still have more coupons left but they’re worth less.

  13. legotech says:

    yeah, you really have to live in a major city or spend a lot of time in one to make it work for you, but in the Los Angeles book, there were coupons for $5 off each month at the supermarket, anything else we used was gravy after that

  14. Carla Young says:

    The best value in the Entertainment Book is the discount code for American Airlines.
    They offer 5% off for up to six passengers on the same itinerary over $150.
    I saved $50 on my last flight using this and that was traveling alone. If you were traveling with a group of 5 others, that’s $300 in savings!

  15. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    My charitable organization put together a local version, sold for $20, all proceeds to the charity. (Printing costs covered by the companies in the book.) It’s around 100 coupons, virtually all locally-owned businesses, and we’ve certainly made back our $20 just in restaurants (typically buy one entree, get 2nd entree) … but it also has local photographers, pet groomers, spas, tchotchke places, etc.

    I went through and folded up so they stick out all the restaurant coupons we’re likely to use, and folded down the stores/other services I’m likely to shop at. The restaurant coupons get far and away the most use. The others I just hope I’ll remember if we decide to get photos done or something. :)

  16. dougp26364 says:

    We use to use buy and use our local Entertainment book every year and would by Entertainment Books for our vacation destinations. However, a couple of years ago the offers started to fall off or became far less attractive. It got to the point where it was difficult for us to get benefit from the book without more effort than it was worth.

    I keep lookikng them over online but, so far haven’t been enticed to buy another book for over 2 years now. Many of the BOGO offers have been replaced with 20% off offers to places that aren’t all that attractive to us. I have also had offers in those books refused as the business did not renew their offer but, the Entertainment book kept printing it anyway.

  17. Baccus83 says:

    Whilst perusing a Chicago Street Fair last summer, I bought one of these…[tinyurl.com]

    $20 and it comes with 52 $10 off coupons for some of Chicago’s best restaurants. Many of them were on my list to visit anyway, so it really was a no-brainer.

    The caveat is that most of the restaurants are (relatively) expensive. But still, $10 is $10.

  18. Attractions DiningandValue Guide says:

    I work for an competitor to Entertainment that also sells coupon books. There are lots of similar regional companies out there to consider buying from when someone comes to by with a fundraiser. Most of them are pretty good, and buying from a local company keeps more money in your local economy.

  19. Canino says:

    I’m mixed on whether they’re worth it. I had a friend who was such a pinchpenny that he bought one of these and actually carried it around with him – in his hand – everywhere he went. He would show up at my door, Entertainment Book in hand, and hang out for a while and then leave with his book.

    We ended up going out sometimes just so he could use a coupon, which kind of defeated the purpose of saving money with the coupon because we wouldn’t have gone to those places and spent the money otherwise. But he couldn’t grasp that concept and he always believed he was saving money while he was spending money.

  20. workingmisfit says:

    MasterCard used to offer many of the same deals from the Entertainment Book on their website; I no longer have a MasterCard so I can’t log into the site but it is available here.

  21. chatterboxwriting says:

    My cousin has a book and we go out to eat every Friday. Sometimes we go to a restaurant simply because she has an Entertainment coupon for that restaurant. Unfortunately, the food has not been good at many of the places we went to just to use the coupons, so we’ve been sticking to places we like and don’t mind paying regular price for decent food.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I’ve bought the book the last couple years and I think it’s a steal. I’m terrible of remembering coupons but you only need to use it a few times to make it worthwhile. I use the 50% off car wash coupons each month which is especially nice in Minnesota winters. That’s a savings of about $9/month.

    My favorite use was this winter when I bought a duvet from Macy’s. The book offers $50 gift cards for $45, so I bought 4 to cover the cost of the duvet and the book also offered a coupon code for 20% off my purchase. When I combined them, I saved more than $80 on the duvet and shams.

    If you actually made an effort to use it regularly, the savings could be huge!

  23. longtimegeek says:

    Here in Colorado, they are worth it just for the lift ticket discounts. There are still a lot of BOGO coupons which add up quickly too. I think it is really worth it, especially the value you (don’t) generally get from other fund-raising purchases

  24. elloGov says:

    Best way to save money is to not spend it unless you NEED to! Stop JUST buying shit without a conscious thought.

  25. cmarker says:

    I live in LA and the Entertainment book has a $5 off coupon for Ralphs, owned by Kroger, for each month at a total savings of $60 on groceries. I just keep the book in the car all the time.

  26. UnicornMaster says:

    The only thing you have to look out for is restaurants that suddenly decide they don’t want to honor the coupons in the book anymore. They may pull out or had their account renewed without knowing it, but it always sucks getting handed a bigger check at the end of a meal.

  27. morganlh85 says:

    We get them every year, and share the coupons we don’t want with friends. I also see people sending out the coupons they don’t want over Freecycle or Craigslist.

  28. carlosdelvaca says:

    Our kids’ preschool sells them (we’re in northern Virginia), so we’ve bought them the past three years. I kept track of it last year–we saved $90. Not bad. It helps that there’s $20 worth of Safeway coupons in it. Always going to need groceries sometime.

  29. ElizabethD says:

    I’m wondering if people have thoughts on whether the Entertainment books are worthwhile for people who don’t eat out much. We are on a real penny-pinching budget due to husband’s prolonged unemployment. I think I would end up looking for reasons to eat out just to use the coupons! Thus, counterproductive to our budgeting strategy.

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      @ElizabethD: Well first, only about 75% of the coupons are for food. There’s a LOT in there from movie theaters to car washes.

      With that said, it made eating for us very affordable. Most of the restaurant coupons are buy one get one free, so you’d be able to go get meals for cheap. Often cheaper than eating at home.

    • metaled says:

      @ElizabethD:
      Check my reply below, $5 off each month in Groceries at ralph’s In Los Angeles. We almost never eat out and find it useful. We did order Pizza, so that one was good.

  30. kilde says:

    In Tacoma, WA it’s great. My favorite local Italian restaurant, Pomodoro, does not have a coupon in it, but used the card that certain places will punch. It’s a buy one get one free dinner basically (up to 12.99 so I guess I spend 3 bucks on the second meal usually). But the awesome thing is that they do not punch the card. So I go to this restaurant maybe once a month. I definitely get my savings out of that restaurant right there. I don’t know about other places, but the Tacoma, WA Entertainment book does a good mix of big chains and local places. Don’t use it as much as I should, but enough to get good use out of it.

  31. Cocotte says:

    Also, save money by using books as entertainment. ;)

  32. blueneon says:

    Also, as the year goes on, the price of the Entertainment book in my part of the country gets cheaper and cheaper because the length of time until the coupons expire is less.

  33. The_IT_Crone says:

    I used to buy them every year- my area was saturated with places to use the coupons. I didn’t really even need to plan- if I was out/about I’d be able to find a coupon for nearby all the time.

    However, in the past few years I’d take a coupon to a place and they’d say that they don’t accept them. Sometimes it wasn’t even like a franchise that didn’t have all participants- it was for places that were solo shops! All kinds of excuses like they were in the book last year but didn’t want to be in this year, etc.

    So this, plus the fact that you can find good deals by yourself, made the books not worth the trouble.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been buying Entertainment books for the past few years and find it pays for itself pretty quickly. One rental car upgrade and a visit to our favorite restaurant pretty much does it. Anything else we use after that is sheer savings.

  35. metaled says:

    The coupons we use are insane, from a person who doesn’t use coupons.
    My sister gives us one every Christmas, Last year it just sat there unused. This year we started using the new one. January we used the Ralph’s $5 off monthly coupon along with the coupons in the Sunday Paper and the bonus Coupons they mail us. That visit to the Grocery was $143.00, with $65.00 off! It could have been $70 off, but I lost one of the $5 coupons. This month was a little less, we saved $56 on our trip using this coupon and the Sunday Paper, about 1/3 the total. We’ve used the Papa John’s Pizza, Gun Range and even one for Ice cream. It’s only February and I think we saved a couple hundred bucks.
    It’s really worth it to us for the Ralph’s coupons, I’ve heard stories of people doing it, but it’s insane to walk into a grocery store and only pay for half the groceries you get! Thanks Sis!
    I should buy another ENT BOOK so I get $10 off Ralph’s each month! I think I could do much better if I actually looked for and saved coupons.

  36. OneTrickPony says:

    I got one for the first time a couple of weeks ago. In our area, most of the restaurants are local, and some of them are quite nice. We only go out to eat once or twice a month, but when we do go out, we like to go to decent restaurants, and with 2 adults and 2 teens in the family even a single dinner out can be expensive. It won’t take many BOGO entrees to pay for the cost of the book.

  37. Jonathan Johnson says:

    I bought the Attractions coupon book through a school fund raiser last year and I LOVED it. It saved me well over $200. I really need to get my 2009 edition!

  38. laserjobs says:
  39. ret3 says:

    I found one at a Goodwill while my wife was browsing the clothing. It didn’t have the card in it that lets you get discounts at nicer restaurants, but it did have all the coupons for lower-end places. I picked it up for $2.95, and the first 2-for-1 at Culver’s made it worth it.

  40. JustinD2515 says:

    We get the book every year and easily cover the cost of the book. I can’t count the number of times we use ours each year.

  41. Outrun1986 says:

    I posted this originally, as I mentioned before, you can buy the book cheaply if you look in the right places or buy one online. I have seen the book for around 12$ after cashback and it probably gets even cheaper if you wait till January or February to buy. The coupons in the book are usually good all the way until December of the year you are buying the book.

    It really depends on your situation, most people will save money using the book. A family with children will save A LOT of money using the book. If you share with other members of your family or have family in the area you can usually make good use out of this book because you are involving people with different interests.

    Most of the coupons I received from an entertainment book that was handed down to me were buy 1 get 1 type of deals, so you will need at least 2 people to get use out of one of these. If your single and living alone you might want to forgo the book unless you go out a lot with friends.

  42. Jan Scholl says:

    When my hubby worked in the Detroit area (he has since retired) and my daughter lived and worked there, I would often make the trek and use the Detroit book for different places to dine or shop. Then the book got smaller and smaller and some deals you had to mail in. Or we were turned down for some places as they said they never agreed to participate even tho the coupon was in our hand. We decided to try the Flint Book which wasn’t as much fun. After getting the book and seeing that most of the coupons were for anywhere BUT Flint (Saginaw, Bay City, Port Huron, etc-even Traverse City,)and almost all fast food which we don’t do, we gave it away and never bought again. The whole idea was to save money not to drive an hour and then save a buck or two. I planned my trips to Detroit areas, knowing I would be shopping or taking an art class etc-and visiting with my daughter. That was no longer the deal. I saw a book for Detroit recently and it was about half the size it was 5 years ago. If you live in Detroit area, there are other options including Great Stuff to Do at the WWJ radio site for deals.

  43. Nygdan says:

    The entertainment book for my area is fantastic, my wife and I discovered it a few years ago and we buy them all the time now. They pay for themselves with 2 or 3 visits to a restaurant, and at least the one here has a lot of restaurants that are really good. We’ve also found that the movie tickets are a great value.

    What one poster said is good to keep in mind though, don’t buy something just because you have a coupon. Thats not much of a saving.

  44. Philip Smith says:

    The best deal is to wait until the E-Book goes on sale for $15 shipped. Then buy it through a rewards program like MyPoints – where you get 750 MyPoints which is about $5.

    Use just two coupons and everything else is free.

  45. pnkseashel says:

    We’ve found that we make our money back on the entertainment book from the movie coupons alone

  46. legolasfan411 says:

    I work at Blockbuster and we sell them for $20, which is basically what i’ve been paying for the past few years. In my honest opinion I think there definitely worth it, Im on 19, so I think for people around my age it has a much better benefit because of all the fast food coupons and such. I have used some of the theme park ones and restaurant ones too, and now the books come with a card that you can carry in your wallet and so you don’t have to take the book or coupons with you. I must admit though this year some of the coupons were a little stingy, Mcdonalds definitely they usually have 3 or 4 pages of coupons and this year only 2. Still worth it though.

  47. Dan Finkelstein says:

    I hate the Entertainment Book. Hate Hate Hate. The coupons are for the crappiest, dive-est places around. And when you finally try and use one, you get told when you try and pay the bill that the coupon isn’t good on a Saturday night. For reals.

  48. andyopreshyn says:

    RIPOFF, RIPOFF, RIPOFF

    Bought it from my son for his grade school fundraiser. Never been able to use it and the travel discounts are a joke! You actually pay more than the lowest quoted internet rate. I think that these books are the biggest scam going and this company preys on poor kids and agencies that help vulnerable people with their so called “fundraisers”. More like ripoff and oh ya! lets brainwash our kids early to be good little capitalist consumers. We all know where that has got us lately!