Entertainment Book – how much did I save last year?

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Tomorrow I will attend the 2018/19 Entertainment Canberra launch. So I decided to tally up how much money I have SAVED from my Entertainment Book membership over the last year.

Years ago a good friend used to go out of her way to convince me to buy an Entertainment Book for a project she was fundraising for at her church.  I was polite but firm. “No thank you,” I said.  “I wouldn’t use it.”

Fast forward to three years ago, and I decided to investigate what was actually in these books. Were they just a marketing con geared to extorting soft-hearted do-gooders who wanted to support a charity?  Were they only useful for people who ate out a lot?  Or was there actually something in them?  I had volunteered to attend the Entertainment Book launch event for my work’s families network and wanted to investigate if there was anything of value in the memberships I was selling.

Let me say that a lot has changed with the books in recent years.  For one thing, they are no longer JUST a hardcopy book.  Over the last year, I have been using the Entertainment Book’s electronic membership, and I have been pleasantly surprised. I love flicking through the hardcopy book, but I discovered I love swiping through the online savings opportunities even more.  There are a few features in the phone app version that I like:

  1. It is always on my phone, and my phone is nearly always with me, so I tend to use it more.
  2. It feels less like I am presenting a voucher when I redeem the deal on the app. I feel almost cool in fact, like a technology-enabled savvy spender.
  3. It has a ‘near me’ feature that helps me identify places that are close to where I am.  Sometimes the offerings are places that I would otherwise have overlooked.
  4. It uploads new deals automatically.  Often the new deals are new restaurants, and as a foodie I love finding out about new places to try.
  5. It records the approximate value of deals that have been redeemed.  This makes it easier for me to keep tabs on my savings (more on this below).

The second thing I like about the Entertainment Membership is that there is a higher quality of restaurants and experiences than in the past.  I was at an event recently where someone shared about how she once tried to use an Entertainment Book voucher for an event with family.  They didn’t receive the same quality of food or service as other diners. “I could see plates of oysters being carried out, but they weren’t for us because we were on a different deal,” she said.

The last time Neil and I used the Entertainment Book (less than a week ago), the staff were so excited and happy that we presented it. “It is so good that you are able to know about us because of the Entertainment book,” she said.  “I hope you will come again.”  And we will, because once we tried it we liked it.

I consider myself to be a discerning (cheapskate) diner and let me say that I am often pleasantly surprised that some exceptionally good restaurants are featured in the book.  The 2017/18 book was pretty good and having had a sneak peek at the 2018/19 Canberra book, I consider there is a good selection of upper-end restaurants. Nor is it just about dining; there are some good deals across a wide range of other products and experiences.

The new Canberra book – click on the picture to see what is in the new book.

How much did I save?

I’m sure I have forgotten something, even with my app helping me remember what I have redeemed vouchers for.  The big savings were on accommodation and eWish cards (which I use for purchases at Woolworths, Big W and at certain Caltex service stations).

Item purchased in 2017/18 Savings
eWish cards, $1,000 @ 5% discount $50
JB Hi-Fi gift cards, $200 @5% discount $10
Accommodation – Pier One Sydney, one night $70
Accommodation – Lake Crackenback, three nights $210
Chemist Warehouse – $10 for purchases over $50 $30
Virgin Australia – 5% off when purchasing gift vouchers $30
Petals flower delivery – 20% off $20
Restaurants/dining out (including McDonalds and Subway) $200
Total savings $620

Not bad for a $60 membership!  And as I am already very frugal, I don’t spend a lot of money – just holidays and occasional dinners out with my fiance, trips to visit family and presents (e.g. gift vouchers and flowers). I would ‘save’ more if I shopped at Woolworths using the eGift vouchers, needed more petrol (I now cycle several days a week), travelled more or ate out more.

When I sell the Entertainment Book, people often say to me “oh, I wouldn’t use it”.  People with kids say they wouldn’t use it as they don’t go out. And people without kids say they wouldn’t use it because they don’t go to kids style activities.  There is a lot in the book; you don’t have to use everything to get your $60 back.  By purchasing a book, 20% ($12 if you are buying a $60 Canberra book) goes to a cause you are supporting, so it is a win win situation.

As I was writing this, my Neil said that I should mention that the Woolworths Money app, which we have both downloaded on our phones, makes it much easier to keep track of our gift cards. It is helpful when using the gift cards to know how much you have remaining, especially if you need to use more than one gift card to complete your purchase.

Do you have an Entertainment Book? If so, how much did you save?  How often did you use it?

14 comments

  1. Hi Serina! Honestly, I have always dismissed the entertainment book as a waste of time and money. But when you tally up small savings here and there it does add up! Thanks for the post.

  2. I have only started getting the Entertainment book in the last few years but we have saved stacks of money with it. We enjoy eating out as a family so we have used a number of the restaurant vouchers, and lots of our favourites are in the book so we get to use the new voucher each year 🙂

    In the spring I also plan a trip to one of the plant shops in the book and that has 20% off with no upper limit on savings! We brought lots of fruit trees and berry bushes last year with that and saved over $150 which was particularly awesome.

    I don’t really use the book for anything that I wouldn’t do anyway, so it is genuine savings for us. I would save even more if I got the vouchers for Woolies etc but they always seemed like too much of a fuss. Maybe if I get around to buying a new phone and getting the e-book that would become more attractive as an option.

    1. Hi there,

      The savings on the plant nursery sound like a winner. I think it is really about finding what works for you and your lifestyle. I’m (now) in an apartment so probably wouldn’t be spending on fruit trees, but I am walking distance to cafes so have used the Entertainment Book more than once there. There is such a diversity of what is on offer!

      The eWish gift vouchers are easy once you know how. You receive an email with the details that you print out. I used to keep it in my wallet. Whenever you checkout you choose the ‘Gift card’ option. You need to insert a few numbers and the pin (which are on the form). I think of it like getting a staff discount – 5% over a year is not to be sneezed it:)

    1. Hi Grogounet,
      I’ve used the Sydney book for the past 5 years and have saved a few hundred dollars a year similar to Serina. Once you have a book you also get discounts on other editions so I’ve purchased Cairns and NZ books too at times when I’ve gone on holidays and they have been worth so much more!
      I recommend trying it one year and seeing if you can save money on the things you would already purchase.

      1. Miss Balance, love your advice about buying books in other areas at discount for use on holidays. Makes sense because it is often holidays when you would go out the most.

  3. I have been using the Entertainment Book for over 20years now. I bought the very first edition and have continued to do so every single year. Some years I even buy two books (Sydney and Sydney West). I have saved thousands of dollars over the years. Just the Wish gift card alone have saved me at least $350/year as I shop regularly in Woolworths. We do dine out quite often so there are great saving there as well however, I have noticed that the restaurants available in the Sydney West Entertainment Book are not as good as previous years.

    1. Thank you for sharing. I didn’t realise there is both a Sydney AND a Sydney West edition. I am sorry to hear that the restaurants are not as good. Have you provided the Entertainment Book with feedback? I actually think that the Canberra restaurant offerings are getting better, but then the Canberra restaurant scene has really taken off.

  4. I absolutely love my book, and have been using it for years. I generally only go to restaurants who accept a voucher, and have saved over $700 from last years book

    1. Wow, that’s a good record. I thought my $620 savings were good. Have you ever had any problem with restaurants accepting the vouchers?

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