Entertaining the family doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. You can save those to buy gasoline. There are numerous ways for the family to have fun, be together and spend little if any money. Be resourceful, creative, keep an open mind and a fun heart. After all, nothing’s better than laughing with your family and laughs are free.
- Celebrate a holiday even if it’s not a holiday. Check the calendar and online for many unusual holidays on which to peg your celebration. For instance, there’s a National Watermelon Day. Celebrate by gathering the family in the backyard or a park and eating watermelon. Stretch the celebration by having a family watermelon seed-spitting contest.
You could also celebrate Christmas in July or Thanksgiving in August.
- Clean out the kitchen pantry but make it fun by putting together all those newly discovered foods hiding on the back shelves for unusual but delightful dishes. Have a contest with each family member creating an original recipe. Continue the theme by cleaning out a closet, garage or attic and designate items for a yard sale. Earmark the money earned for a family getaway and you’ll get more cooperation.
- Visit a cemetery. Okay this may sound a little morose but can be fun and educational too. Many headstones have interesting formations and histories. Volunteer the family to help clean up the cemetery, trim grass and pull a few weeds. Some cemeteries even have places to have a picnic so don’t forget the food.
- Go fly a kite. Some of your fondest memories of growing up may be when your mom or dad helped you build and fly a kite. You can buy all kinds of kite designs if you want or get kite kits and make them yourself. Materials are inexpensive and construction can be simple.
- Take a field trip to a pick your own farm. The entire family can pick various fruits and vegetables, then purchase and eat them. Because you picked them yourself, the prices are very reasonable and they taste better too. Check your newspaper for the nearest farm to you and remember this is a seasonal activity.
- Visit a botanical garden or arboretum. Most of these are free and is a beautiful place to just stroll and visit with your family. Sometimes lectures or festivals are being held at the gardens. Take your camera and get some memorable shots of your family among the flowers.
- Spend the night outside. This could be in your back yard or in a camp site. Sit quietly by a campfire and try to identify sounds of the night. It could be a part night or an all night affair.
Frugal nights and days with your family can be some of the best. You’re together but not worried about the money being spent. Best of all, your children will probably grow up and experience many of the same events with their kids too.
What Your Kids Want Most Is Time, Not Money
It’s so easy to give your kids a few dollars and send them on their way. They probably even came to you and asked for money to hang out with their buddies. But, many times what they really want is time with you. They don’t want to interfere with your busy lifestyle so they take the easy way out by going out. You make it easier for them by handing over the money, no questions asked.
Today’s rapid paced world makes it difficult to find spare time to meet with your family much less spend quality bonding time. Everyone is always on the go and you see each other in the morning before the day’s activities begin and at night when everyone comes home; but then it’s time for bed.
Even meals are too often eaten standing up or at a fast food restaurant. There’s no time for conversation and that includes both talking and listening to your children. It’s the wise family that schedules time to be together.
Set aside at least one night a week for the family to be together, alone. This doesn’t mean the kids can invite friends over on that night. Take the phone off the hook or any activity or conversation will be constantly interrupted. If you’ve not done this all along and your kids are older, it will be difficult at first but soon everyone will look forward to it.
What you do is not that important. But, it’s important that you’re together. Talk to your children, asked them questions, be interested in their world and get involved if needed. Listen to how they spent their day and the problems and successes they had.
Board games for the family can be fun and entertaining. If you’re watching your budget, most board games can be found inexpensively at discount stores and yard sales. You probably already have the basic games such as cards, dominoes and checkers. Younger children love for someone to read to them. If they’re older, read with them and share what you’ve read afterwards.
Work together on crafts or cooking. Building something together is a great way to discover each other’s talents and converse at the same time. You probably remember when your dad helped you build a model airplane or go-cart. Perhaps it was memorable times in the kitchen with mom baking a cake or preparing dinner together.
Always compliment your children and emphasize the positive not the negative. Let them know you’re there for them anytime, anywhere. Hugs are always nice to enforce the positive and so are notes left unexpectedly on the refrigerator or lunch box.
All together, time doesn’t have to be spent at home but try to plan outside activities that allow interaction. A camping trip or fishing expedition would be fun and inexpensive. You could even camp out in the back yard.
Your kids probably are involved in many school sports, plays and festivals they would love for you to attend. Giving children your time and love is not expensive and one of the most worthwhile investments you’ll ever make.
Movie Fun Savings for Families
A night at the movies can be a great get-together for the entire family whether at the theater or at home. Hollywood is getting more family conscious and producing more movies for general audiences so the selection is better than in times past.
If you’re not sure about a certain movie’s content, go online and do your research. You can’t always go by the rating but that’s a good place to start. You might wonder sometimes how a movie got a PG rating.
Movies, like most everything else in life, are not as affordable as they used to be. Depending on what city you live in you can expect to spend $7 to $10 or more for an adult ticket and about $2 less for children under 12. Discounts are available for students who provide a valid school ID.
What time you go to a movie makes a difference. Most theaters offer a matinee discount of several dollars if you catch the afternoon showings. These usually are the movies shown before 5 PM.
Some theaters also have super value days when you get matinee prices all day. This is typically on a slow day such as Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Unfortunately, there still is no discount at the concession counter no matter what time you go.
Find a dollar movie theater or at least one that offers very cheap tickets. They show the same features although a few weeks later than first run theaters. It’s worth a wait if you want to save money.
You’ll probably also save money on popcorn, candy and drinks but perhaps have to forego some comforts like stadium seating. Most discount movies are shown in the older theaters and may not be as plush as the modern ones.
Drive-In theaters are still found in some cities and are as a rule bargains and fun. Some offer first run movies at a discount or even allow the entire carload to get in for one price. Drive-In movies are ideal for families because you can bring in food and drinks. Bring your lawn chairs too and sit outside if you want.
Dive-In movies are gaining popularity in pools and parks. Many swimming pools and parks offer free movies and popcorn. Families can lounge poolside if they don’t want to get wet or watch the movie from the cool water.
Have a movie night at home for the family. But, do more than just rent a DVD by involving the entire family and creating a more theater like atmosphere. Pop some popcorn for the aroma and darken the room. With a DVD, you’re in control and can schedule an intermission for bathroom breaks and snacks of pickles, candy and ice cream in addition to the popcorn.
To save money on movie DVDs join a movie club and get your movies by mail. Finish one and they’ll mail you another one. Families can enjoy selecting the movies together. Movies are a great way to escape and provide the family an affordable night together
Educate Your Kids, Have Fun and Save Money Too
Nobody ever said that having fun couldn’t be a learning experience as well. There are so many inexpensive ways to have fun with your kids and educate them at the same time. Learning together makes for smart kids and fond memories.
Your local library is the obvious place to start. Books provide unlimited knowledge and avenues to unknown destinations. Libraries offer lectures, movies, and storytellers for all ages usually for free or a modest admission charge. Be sure and ask about the annual library book sale. You and your children can amass countless books for almost nothing.
Take your children to a museum and you take them to discovery. Most towns have numerous museums exhibiting a wide range of subjects including natural history and art. Some of the more modern museums offer hands on or interactive exhibits. You can visit these museums often and see something different each time. Of course, don’t miss aquariums to teach your youngsters about creatures of the sea.
County or State Fairs are also filled with fun and learning. A visit can be very inexpensive if you avoid the rides and midway. Many free shows are presented each day ranging from swooping birds, dogs chasing a Frisbee to military bands. The various exhibits can be quite educational and include new cars and energy of the future. Check the fair’s website for special days when kids get in free.
Make a worm farm. This is a learning experience that could turn into a business. Worms can thrive in a properly made container and multiply quickly. They eat waste from the garden and table scraps. (Not meat or dairy.) Worms are easy to care for but you do have to keep the soil moist and provide good drainage. Your crop is excellent for fishermen and gardeners.
Children can learn a lot about life by visiting a nursing home. They don’t have to know anyone there. Most homes are asking for volunteers to come and visit with residents who are lonesome and have no family. It would be nice for visitors to bring greeting cards or some other small token to be given. Your visits would be appreciated.
Enroll your child in special classes such as art, dance, music or learning a new language.
Let the child’s obvious talent be your guide or encourage the youngster to step out of his comfort zone and learn a new skill. Many of these classes are held at community colleges or libraries and are free or reasonably priced.
Teach your children some of the games of your day such as throwing horseshoes or washers. These games can still be family favorites and cost nothing to play. Invite the neighbors over for family contests.
Become your kids’ favorite storyteller by relating tales of your childhood and theirs before they can remember. Tell them for instance what happened on the day they were born. Sharing is teaching; and families that learn together enjoy being together.
Around Town Savings for Family Fun
Saving money on family fun is especially important during the summer months, when the kids are out of school, restless, and looking to you for some entertainment ideas. It can make you feel guilty if you don’t have the money to continually rent video games, take them to costly kid-friendly places, and shell out big bucks for full fare activities.
Even during the school year, it’s important to be able to get out of the house with the kids and do something that won’t break the bank. This is where season passes come in handy. If you live in or near a big city, you can pay once for full, year-round access to a wide variety of entertainment hot spots.
The zoo is a great place to save money with a season pass. A season pass to a zoo not only gets you in the door without paying again all year, but you usually get free parking, too.
Not only that, but a zoo membership allows you to access certain events that other pay-per-visit patrons don’t get to attend. And if you have to spend any money at the zoo on things like food, drinks, or gift shop items, you usually get a member’s discount price.
Another season pass that will save you money is one for a local water park. Water parks can be horribly expensive, costing approximately $50 per person per visit in major cities. A season pass is about $20-30 more, and you and your kids can visit as many times as you want throughout the open season.
Again, your family will likely save on food, drinks, and gift shop items, but they also have member only days and free perks like rent-free rafts for patrons who prefer to pay for a year at a time.
Aside from water parks, other entertainment parks like Six Flags offer season passes to families who are on a tight budget. A season pass is the only smart way to go to one of these parks, because you can’t possibly enjoy everything in a single day!
Just two visits to a park would likely pay for a season pass, so if you plan to go more than once, or just want a place that you, your spouse and kids can have fun on a year-round basis, then consider upgrading to a membership that lets you have unlimited fun.
Sporting events are another place where you and your clan can sock away money by investing in season tickets. The more games you buy ahead of time, the more you usually save – and you’ll never have to hear the kids complaining that you never take them anywhere!
Season passes and memberships ensure your family will get the fun they deserve while helping you save money at the same time. And in many cases, like with the zoo or an art museum, you’re contributing to the maintenance of the exhibits, too!