Our family has a lot of fun together. But, we don’t spend a lot of money on that fun.
On a practical level, it just isn’t in our budget now. We know how much we have to spend each week on fun (thanks to our Budget Tracker!), and we don’t go over that amount. On a philosophical level, we want our children to be content with the small things–with barbecue at a friend’s house, with a walk in the woods, with a movie and popcorn night.
Here are 8 ideas for frugal family fun:
1.Day at the Park
If you have little ones, a day at the park is as good as a day at a fancy theme park. Bring along a picnic lunch and let them swing and slide to their heart’s content. Don’t forget the soccer balls, baseballs and gloves, or Frisbees to keep them playing hard all day. Challenge yourselves to visit all of the parks in the surrounding area, perhaps taking silly pictures at each and compiling them into a scrapbook.
2.Take a Hike
Most Americans live near a national, state, or local park with excellent hiking trails. If your children are older, take them to explore the mountains, woods, or streams around you. Let the children choose the trail and read the map or signs along the way. Check out books about local birds or plant life so that you can identify what you spot along the way.
This is an oldie but a goodie. Let each child choose a game for the entire family to play together. Bake some cookies and laugh together as you play charades, Candyland, or Uno. Teach them your favorite childhood games. Games are excellent at teaching children math, language skills, and good sportsmanship–but most of all they are just plain fun!
Take the cue from the current obsession with cooking challenges and host a family cook off. You could give each child the same ingredients and see what dish they can create. Or, one child can make an appetizer,another a main dish, and another a dessert, etc. Pass down family recipes as you teach your children how to make Grandma’s signature dish, or learn about another culture while you learn how to make tamales or egg drop soup.
Pop some stove-popped popcorn, make some brownies, and curl up on the couch to watch a movie together. Make it a challenge and see if you can watch all of the Pixar movies, or choose movies based on a book that you have all read and compare the two. Little ones might enjoy The Fantastic Mr. Fox or Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Your older elementary school children might like How to Train Your Dragon or Hoot. Watch the movies based on books that your teens have been reading such as The Hunger Games or If I Stay (these movies are not appropriate for younger viewers, however, only for families with older children).
6.Go to the Farmer’s Market
Grab your baskets or reusable grocery bags and head on over to your local farmer’s market. Taste all of the samples and speak to all of the farmers. Let each child pick one type of fruit or vegetable to buy and help them prepare it for dinner that night. You can also ask farmers if they have any pick your own days. Go to the orchard and pick your own peaches or apples for a memorable (and tasty!) day.
7.Look for Local Fun
Search the web to find inexpensive local fun. We have gone to many free festivals, movies in the park, dollar swim days, and other events over the past few years. Find out if your local museums have reduced admission days. Our children’s museum has “pay what you will” days once a month. Another has passes available for check-out from our local library.
8.Family Book Club
Choose a book to read together. You can listen to it as an audiobook or read it aloud together. Some children’s classics appeal to a wide age range. Try the Chronicles of Narnia, The Wind in the Willows, the Harry Potter series, or Little House on the Prairie. Discuss the characters, make a skit based on the story, paint the setting, and just enjoy reading together!
Create some memories with your family–just don’t break the bank to do it!
What frugal family fun ideas do you have?
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