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Ah, the second date: dinner and a movie. (First date involves, of course, a course of non-alcoholic beverages.) Choosing the right restaurant is a chance to demonstrate compatibility (“You love sushi? No way! I love sushi!”) and the right flick can demonstrate your artistic/compassionate/ironic side (“I hear the new Fatih Akin/doc on old people singing/Uwe Boll flick is amazing!”). And what better way to lay down the foundation of strong communication about money than when you decide how to pay for it all: will you go dutch, treat, or be treated?
Paying for it all, eh? Well played. Since dinner and a night out at the movies have become heinously expensive: here are some ways to save money towards your third date.
To help with dinner costs, check out MenuPalace.com and Dine.TO as both sites offer specials and coupons towards certain restaurants—there are plenty of buy-one-get-one-free offers, perfect for dates. There’s a surprisingly wide variety of places to choose from as well. To prevent the awkward handing of a coupon when the bill arrives, excuse yourself to go to the bathroom just before dessert, hunt down the waiter for the bill, and present the coupon then. Paying before the end of the meal allows you to swiftly move from eating to the next part of your evening and keeps the momentum.
Another option is OpenTable.com, which also acts as a reservation service. Members of the site get points for each meal, which can later be exchanged for gift certificates. The accrual of points can be pretty slow, but having direct access to the RSVP systems of restaurants like Canoe is kinda nifty.
Plenty of restaurants also have a special discount if you show your tickets (or ticket stubs) valid for the day that you are dining. For example: restaurants on Front near the CanStage theatres and the Rainbow Cinemas usually take 10 to 15% off. If you’re a member of a cultural institution, check to see if your membership card allows for discounts for restaurants in the area. Members of the Art Gallery of Ontario, as an example, will find discounts for quite a few restaurants on Baldwin Street.
Movies By The Bulk
The big chains offer bulk admissions that are substantially cheaper than individual admissions. Purchasing a ticket at the counter will set you back $13 at AMC Yonge and Dundas and $12 at the Cineplex Varsity or Scotiabank, but, in bulk (at least 50), purchasing a ticket will cost only $7 at AMC [pdf] and $8.30 at the Cineplex (not including shipping). So, grab four (or five or ten) friends and split the lot.
Membership at the cinemas can be a good idea too as it rewards you with free stuff or gives you a discount on admissions and concessions. The AMC MovieWatcher is based on a point accumulation system. Every admission is worth two points and rewards are given out every ten points. You’ll also receive a small discount on concession combos with your admission ticket. The Cineplex Scene program is based on point redemption system where every admission equals 100 points. Rewards can be redeemed after 1,000 points and the Scene card also provides a 10% discount at the concession stands, including the various chain-based restaurants that are inside the theatre, like Burger King and New York Fries. (Just don’t make the dinner part of your dinner and a movie concession foods. It’d be like whipping out your iPod Touch at dinner and showing your downloaded version of Iron Man.)
Both rewards programs are worth your time and give a good return of around 10%. Of the two, Cineplex is the more flexible with obtaining rewards, but AMC is the better choice when factoring in the cost for bulk admission certificates. For example: 15 visits to Cineplex cost $124.50 for admission and score you one free admission, but 15 visits to AMC cost $105 for admission and score you that free admission, a small popcorn, and small drink too.
AMC and Cineplex also have bulk combos available that include two admissions, two drinks, and a popcorn. Ignore the AMC one, which is ludicrously overpriced: $29.50 for two admissions (ahem, $14 with bulk single tickets), two small drinks, and a medium popcorn—$15.50 for the concessions doesn’t sound like much of a deal. The Cineplex one, priced at $25.69, is more reasonable for two admissions, two regular drinks, and a regular popcorn—it saves a few dollars even when using bulk single admissions and your Scene card for concessions. Only caveat: a minimum order of 25 bulk combos from either company.
When The Lights Come Back On
If you’re evening progresses past the movie, there can be savings found for items in the bedroom as well. For simple condoms and lubricant, you can try Well.ca, which ships orders for $3 (and on orders of over $99, shipping is free). For toys and accessories, compare the prices for Aren’t We Naughty, Lovedreamer, and Come As You Are. The selection is diverse and there are often sales or specials on products. In addition, the sites will ship for free (and discreetly) on orders from $50 to $80 depending on the site.
Saverist runs regularly the last Wednesday of every month.