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Conor Pope - Money Man - Entertainment for Less

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Conor Pope - is a consumer journalist and broadcaster. He writes the Pricewatch page in The Irish Times (and has a weekly consumer slot on the Ray Darcy Show on Today FM). He was the co-presenter of the consumer lifestyle programme, Living Lightly on RTE last autumn and is the author of the best selling book Stop Wasting Your Money.


. Failte Ireland -

. OPW - public sites -

Here are a few free (or cheap) places people should be going

. The Botanic Gardens - Dublin
. Phoenix Park/Memorial Gardens
. Annual Family pass to the zoo is very good value - €160

Admission Prices:
Adults: €15
Children: €10.50
Students: €12
OAPs: €12

Group Admission Prices:
Child €8.00 Adult €12.50 Family 2 Adults & 2 Children €43.50
-2 Adults & 3 Children €49

. Coole Park - Gort, Co. Wexford
. Fota Arboretum, Co. Cork
. Muckross House, Co. Kerry
. Adare Castle, Co. Limerick

At Home

Advantages - if you watch a lot of DVDs - at least two a week than it works out much cheaper to get them online than in your local DVD shop which can charge a fiver a time for some releases. Another advantage is that you never have to pay late return fees. Important to make sure you're getting good value for money, mind you, if you don't watch a DVD for a month you will still end up paying the €12.99.
Ulay of these sites:

Platinum - €31.99 4 DVD(s) at a time. Unlimited times a month.
Gold - €24.99 3 DVD(s) at a time. Unlimited times a month.
Silver - €17.99 2 DVD(s) at a time. Unlimited times a month.
Bronze - €12.99 1 DVD(s) at a time. Unlimited times a month.

Platinum - €31.99 (unlimited 4 DVD's at a time)
Gold - €24.99 (unlimited 3 DVD's at a time)
Silver - €17.99 (unlimited 2 DVD's at a time) *most popular*
Bronze - €12.99 (unlimited 1 DVD at a time)
Lite - €7.99 (limited 2 DVD's a month)

Games nights

Growing numbers of adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s have happened upon games nights as a much cheaper way of entertaining than the traditional dinner party, which, let's face it, can be very pricey for the people cooking.

Instead invite people round after the kids have gone to bed and play silly games - couple of glasses of wine. Popular ones are games like Pictionary or Articulate - card game to guess the word by describing it. Games can take on a very competitive edge. Also don't overlook (low-stakes) poker - it is a very cheap way to pass an evening and as long as you agree on limits and stick to them nobody ends up losing too much cash.

Then there is Singstar - the Sony Playstation is to be found in many houses in Ireland and it is often left to the kids. Don't think adults would like sitting round playing some shoot it up games but who doesn't love karaoke?! Cheap and hilarious.

A black bin bag party: Never done this, but it sounds like a right old wheeze. Get all your mates to put the clothes they no longer wear, the CDs they no longer listen to, the computer games they don't play any more, and any other stuff they have outgrown or lost interest in into black plastic bags and bring them round to your house.

Then dump all the stuff into the centre of the room and allow everyone to have a good old rummage. The stuff that you've lost interest in may be just what someone else is looking for, and vice versa. Not only will you save money, and reduce the amount of material going into landfill, but you'll be able to laugh at each other's dreadful taste in clothes, music, games and books. I am told, however, that such parties are supposed to be conducted in an entirely nonjudgmental fashion, so don't make too big a deal of it when your best pal produces a pair of sequined flares from the 1970s or a

Join a library: Genuinely remarkable places that provide an amazing service which is terribly under-used by the reading public, who prefer to visit their local Eason's or Waterstone's to hand over good money for blockbusters they'll read just once or cookbooks they'll browse through occasionally but rarely if ever cook from. They are central, warm, pleasant, and above all else free - except for the initial, minimal joining fee. They also offer free web access.

Going Out:

Cinema tickets aside, savings that can be made on your trips to the movies. Stock up on treats before you go, as cinema foyers are no place to buy your soft drinks, chewing gum and sweets. A small bottle of mineral water will cost you €2.50 in the foyer - and even more in some cinemas, if you can believe it - while exactly the same bottle of water in the local shop next to the cinema will cost half that. And no cinema I have ever come across objects if you bring your own refreshments in. Although I don't think that stretches to a curry and a flagon of cider. Keep an eye out for special deals and membership cards which can save significant sums. Take, for example, the UGC on Dublin's Parnell Street. It has an "Unlimited Card', which gives you access to the cinema for just €19.99 a month - compared with a single-ticket price of just under €10.


Would be great to talk about this: menus placing ploys

Keep a close eye on early bird menus

Do not buy the bottled water. There are many ordinary restaurants in Dublin that think they can get away with charging more than €6 for a 700ml bottle of water. The reason they do get away with it most of the time is because we let them. Maybe it's because we're intimidated by the fact that we're in strange surroundings, or maybe because we don't want to seem cheap, but too often when the waiter sidles up to the table we allow him or her sells us something we don't really need.