The following is by contributor Catherine Way of Adventures With Kids.
My family has had a hard time financially in the past year. My husband started his own business and we had to cut costs in many areas. But we found that there are plenty of ways to have fun as a family without spending a lot of money.
Here are some frugal ways for your family to enjoy time together at home or out and about.
Stay at Home Fun
Staying at home and making your own fun will always be cheaper than going out. There is less temptation to spend money on food or other treats and there are no travel costs when you stay home.
- Cook together. Some foods that offer a fun eating experience and easily lend themselves to lots of helping hands are pizza, pasta, sushi or spring rolls.
- Have a movie night. To make it more exciting make some tickets and sell them at the box office. Create a theatre atmosphere by dimming the lights. Appoint an usher to escort people to their seats. Serve popcorn in individual paper cones. Simple Mom has some suggestions for family friendly movies.
- Hold a game night. Play with just your family or invite some other families to join the fun. Choose from card games, parlour games, sports or board games. Family Education has a page dedicated to fun games for the whole family.
- Write, film and edit a movie starring your family or if you don’t have a movie camera, write a short story and take photos to create a personalised book.
- Camp out in backyard. This can be as simple as taking some blankets and cushions out, making some hot chocolate and stargazing before heading off to bed. Or you can pitch your tent, get out the bbq or fire pit and spend the night in your backyard.
Going out will always be more expensive than staying at home. Costs can creep up if you buy food or other treats. I recommend bringing your own food or setting a budget before you go. You might also want to set a budget for knick-knacks and other items or let the kids know beforehand that you won’t be buying anything.
- Explore your local playgrounds, beaches or nature parks. Take a picnic and some sports equipment – a frisbee, soccer ball, scooters or bikes – and see what you can find. We did this recently and discovered a nearby park with a great bike path and a nice steep hill complete with cardboard sheets for sliding.
- Turn food shopping into an adventure and go to a market. Kids enjoy this very sensory way of shopping and you end up with some lovely fresh produce.
- Keep informed about local news. Most places have free local events, like concerts, free entry to museums and art galleries or local festivals. If there is an attraction in your area (a zoo, aquarium, museum or amusement park) that your family particulary likes consider getting a yearly membership.
- Go on a treasure hunt. There are preorganised hunts all around the world – look up geocaching or letterboxing. Or you can design your own treasure hunt, for example, travel around town trying to photograph all the letters from A to Z or take a nature walk and try and collect something to represent each colour of the rainbow.
What is your favourite frugal family activity?