Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thrifty Entertainment

I have been feeling little philosophical, lately.  It has been concerning me that prices seem to be going up all around us! Utility prices are rising, groceries (especially produce and meat) are constantly on the rise, and every time I pass the gas station it seems that it's gone up a penny or two (or three, or four......). I know I can't speak for everyone, but my families income is NOT rising with the cost of living. It gets a little discouraging that in order to cover the cost of living, the little conveniences and entertainments must be cut back or eliminated.

This week is Spring Break for my kids. Keeping my kid's entertained this week without breaking the bank has been challenging.  I have been trying to think of ways that people can still enjoy having fun on a budget. There are plenty of venues that can be enjoyed for little out of pocket expense, or even free.
So far I have come up with:
  • Use your local library. Libraries offer magazines, movies, audio books, in addition to books. Many libraries offer children's reading hours, movie nights, book clubs, educational classes, and summer reading programs all available  to the public for free. Most libraries have a monthly calender of event at the library or on their website.
  • Go to the movies at the local second run theater. If your willing to wait to see the latest movies for a few weeks you can see them for $2.00 to $3.00, instead of $7.00 to $10.00. My local  dollar theater offers a discount night every Tuesday  for a $1.50 for admission and $1.50 popcorn and soda. During the summer holiday our second run theater offers PTA movie passes. For $7.50 per person you can watch a prescheduled  family friendly movie each week for eleven weeks.
  • Visit community museums. I live in a university town so we are lucky to have a Natural History Museum on campus. We also have a local historical museum. It's a fun  way for my kid's to learn about our local history and surroundings. 
  • Take advantage of community events. Many communities offer fun runs, family fun days, river fests, farmer's markets (with local entertainment), county fairs in the spring, summer, and fall.
  • Take day trips to points of interest close to you.  Pack a lunch and make a day of visiting fun places close to where you live. We live within 60 miles of several reservoirs, historical landmarks, forest service camp grounds, and natural hot springs. You get out of town, but cut out the cost of long travel, extensive meals, and overnight stays.
  • Take advantage of the programs offered through your local zoo. In the summer zoo's offer summer classes, Zoofari's, and special family days. Our zoo offers a Boo At the Zoo just before Halloween that for a minimal fee, you can spend the afternoon at the zoo learning, playing, trick or treating each exhibit.
  • Make your own fun. Last summer my kids set up our old tent in the back yard and made a fort. The neighbor kid's had a blast "camping" and playing in that silly tent all summer. Let the kid's host a lemonade or Popsicle stand. The older kid's in the neighborhood would meet together every evening for "night games" (that's what they named it). They would go to each other's houses and watch a movie, play basketball, play board games or kick the can. Sometimes they would just sit in our neighborhood's common area and visit. Everyone had a 10:00pm curfew, so the "fun" didn't go into the wee hours of the morning and everyone stayed out of trouble.
  • Host neighborhood events. Summertime is a great time to invite neighbors and friends over to barbecue. Make it a pot luck, so that everyone shares the burden of the cost. Other fun ideas are maybe have an  ice cream social, themed potluck night (Italian, Mexican, dutch over, crockpot, etc.), or dessert night.
  • Have a game night. My kid's love it when we play board or card games with them. Invite friends over for snacks and to play a board game.
I'm sure there are hundreds of other cheap ways to enjoy a little fun. Help me add to the list, dear Bloggy Friends! What fun things do you participate in that costs a little to no money?


  1. we have a nature center nearby that's free, and go a lot during the summer. We also have a new trail system that goes on for miles so this summer I plan on using this heavily (me walking and kids on their little scooters).

    Our summer break starts next Friday, and I've already got things line up so we don't get bored! I'm even doing some babysitting for a friend who has a child close in age to mine, so the kids get to have a play date, and I'm going to make some money :)

  2. oops-meant to type spring break, not summer :) Wishful thinking lol!

  3. Awesome ideas. This list just proves that entertainment doesn't have to cost a fortune, just a little creative thinking and planning.

  4. I am biased (I'm a librarian), but I am so happy to see the library at the top of the list. The library has much to offer in affordable entertainment.

    All around a good list.

  5. I love your list! What a great idea. I know the children will always remember the Make Your Own Fun ideas! When I was a kid, my mom and dad would cut some cane poles, buy a carton of worms, pack a lunch, and head for the lake to fish. Lots of good memories!

  6. Those are all such great ideas. Love the tent/camping one and I'll bet the kids do too. I am a big fan of tours. There is a chocolate factory near us that offers free tours. Do they still have drive-in movies out there? We used to pile all the kids in the car in their jammies and go to the drive-in. *sigh* That was so much fun!

  7. such a great list! Our grandgirls love going to area parks for the free waterparks, usually very simple spray stuff. But if I don't want to take them anywhere, filling a metal tub with water out on the deck and giving them plastic measuring cups, spoons, etc., can keep them happy for ages. Often just helping can seem like a game. Grandgirl-E, a 5-yr.-old, recently helped me sort and clean some old buttons; she was perfectly content for over an hour.



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