Does your idea of going out consist of a walk to your mailbox to pick up your next Netflix movie?
Are you spending your Saturday nights sifting through the clearance shelves at your local Wal-Mart?
Have you given up on dating because you can't afford dinner, drinks or entertainment for yourself, let alone for two?
Snap out of it. Money may be tight, but that doesn't mean you can't go out and have a good time. In fact, if you know where to look, you can find incredibly cheap -- or even free -- admission to all sorts of happenings, including concerts, theater performances, sporting events and museum exhibitions.
Here are six strategies for snagging these discounts to help you get more entertainment for your buck.
Wait until the last minuteWhen it gets down to a couple of hours before a performance, a theater may start selling "rush" tickets at a fraction of the price. It would rather sell the seats at a bargain than let them go empty. Consolidated discount ticket booths are popping up in cities nationwide, including Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Or call your favorite hometown theater to see whether it offers price cuts directly to the public right before show time.
Of course, if you're trying to get last-minute seats to a popular show, there's a good chance it'll sell out. So it pays to keep your plans flexible.
Seek out less-hyped venuesFor cheap seats, think location, location, location. Don't automatically zero in on the biggest show in your area. Your favorite performer may appear at a nearby venue for a lot less.
Similarly, you don't have to pay Broadway prices to see a great play. Many of the performances on the Great White Way are playing at smaller venues nationwide -- and carry much lower price tags.
Work or volunteerIn my freshman year of college, I worked on the student janitorial crew at the school's basketball arena and football stadium. Not only did I get in free to almost every game and special event, I got paid to be there.
Sure, I had to empty a trash can now and then, clean up a spilled soda on the concourse and stay late to lock up, but I satisfied my inner fan and made a buck at the same time -- and I got to carry a walkie-talkie. Don't want to get your hands dirty? Consider getting an evening job as an usher at your favorite concert hall or theater.
Some venues may even take you on as a volunteer. In exchange for passing out playbills at the door, for example, they likely will let you sit in on the performance when your work is done. You may miss the first 15 minutes of the show, but it beats shelling out the money for a pricey ticket or, alternatively, sitting at home watching reruns on TV.