Kids love to go out and do things. I know mine do.
But do something fun each weekend, and the costs can add up quickly. Fortunately, there are many things to do in your city that won’t cost you an arm and leg.
Here is a list I put together to give you some ideas of fun family entertainment, that won’t break the bank.
Museums, Zoo, Amusement Parks
These are the big name attractions for kids. They are also the big money drainers for parents. Here are tips to hitting up these places without spending your weekly paycheck.
- Check online for free days. Some museums, zoos and parks offer free days; it’s just that no one bothers to look. Do some research to see if anything in your area is free, or at least discounted. If you can’t find anything online, just call and ask. Often places, museums especially, have free days that they just don’t advertise.
- Buy annual memberships. If there is one place that your kids love to visit, spring for the annual membership. It may seem costly, but the one-time fee is cheaper than paying each visit majority of the time.
- Check your library. Surprisingly, many libraries have programs that offer free museum passes. You can check out a museum pass just like you would check out a book, and use it to get free admission at the museum.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good movie? They make you laugh, cry and just an easy way to entertain the entire family. Over the years, movie prices have skyrocketed, making movie-going less frequent for most people. Here are the suggestions for saving on movies.
- Skip the pricey theater. This one takes patience, but it will save you a bundle. Instead of seeing the movie in the theater, wait for it to come to DVD or Netflix. If you wait even longer, you may find the movies at your local library for even cheaper.
- Look for discount theaters. Check around to see if you have any discounted movie theaters in your area. The movies they run may be just about to leave the bigger theaters, but you will still get the whole movie outing experience without the huge box office price.
- Catch the matinee. The earlier shows are often cheaper, so plan to see your movie earlier in the day. Do a movie and then dinner, rather than dinner and then a movie.
- Bring your own snacks. You’re really not “supposed” to, but it sure can save you a bunch of money. Bring in easy to transport snacks like bagged chips, candy bars and bottled water.
If your whole family enjoys a good play, you know how expensive the tickets can get. Here are the tips for saving money on the fine arts.
- Check out the high school and college plays. Stage productions put on by local schools can be just as entertaining as the bigger name shows. You may even get a good deal if you ask to watch the dress rehearsal rather than the actual show.
- Look for free. If your local park has a bandstand, check to see of there will be any free live performances or concerts.
- Consider buying the next best seats. Obstructed view seats or seats further away will always be cheaper. You can save a considerable amount of money if you are willing to sacrifice the perfect view of the stage. A bright side, if the show doesn’t sell out, you may be able to move seats for a better view anyway.
- Wait to buy. Tickets often get discounted the day of the production. If you can wait, try stalling to the very last day to get your tickets.
Eating out is a nice change from eating in and having to cook each day. But feeding a whole family is no easy, or cheap, feat. Here are ways to save when dining out.
- Eat lunch, not dinner. Opting to eat lunch rather than dinner is cheaper at almost all restaurants. If you can’t do lunch, consider and early supper. Many establishments have early bird specials that are considerably cheaper.
- Skip the fancy drink. If you want fancy, ask for a lemon wedge in your water. Alcoholic, or even virgin, drinks are overpriced. You can easily recreate most of them at home, or half the price.
- Fill up on appetizers. Instead of getting an entrée for everyone, choose to share a bunch of appetizers. If you are still hungry, split an entrée or tow among everyone.
- Hold the sweets. The dessert at the end of the meal is another way to ruin your budget. Say nay to the dessert menu, and go home and indulge in ice cream from your freezer instead.
More Cheap Fun
Need more ideas? Here are even more family fun ideas that are not just entertaining, but frugal as well.
- Go for a drive. Okay, so you may have to spring for the gas. But other than that, this can be an inexpensive adventure. Pack some food and load up the car and drive to where ever your heart leads you. You may discover a new town, a great mall or even fun tourist attractions.
- Dig out the video camera. Love movies? How about a home movie! Get the whole family involved in making a home movie. You can plan out scenes and story lines, make costumes and give everyone a part. When you are done, make some popcorn and have a homemade movie night to finish off the day.
- Visit a farm. Stop at a local farm that allows pick your own berries and other fruit. Not only will you spend the day doing a wholesome activity with the entire family, you will be picking up some produce at great prices.
- Host a potluck or BBQ. If you shop sales and use coupons, the food doesn’t have to be very expensive. And if you make it into a potluck and invite friends and family, then you will be spending even less money. Add some more fun for the kids by purchasing bubbles, water pistols and sprinkles at the dollar store.
- Find crafts and activities online. There are many sites online that are dedicated to free crafts and games for kids. If you kids have a favored character, check out pbskids.org, disneyjr.com or nickjr.com for crafts and coloring pages.
Spending quality family time doesn’t necessary have to mean spending a ton of money. Try out some of these ideas the next time you want to take your family out, but don’t want to spend too much.