Editor’s Note: Tanya is back to share some frugal, year-round family activities with us. Kids (and adults) often become bored and frustrated when entertainment budgets are slashed during debt repayment. A prolonged lack of fun can make even the most dedicated family go a little stir crazy and splurge unwisely to alleviate boredom. But it doesn’t need to be that way. Tanya has some great ideas to put fun back in your life while you eliminate debt.
I’ve met my fair share of people who know they are in trouble financially, but still resist doing anything about it. Many times it is because they don’t want to stop having fun. Granted, 4-5 years of dullsville isn’t something any normal person looks forward to either. Many will, in fact, run as fast as they can in the other direction.
The good news is there is a happy medium. You may not be able to spend two weeks basking in luxury at an all-inclusive resort in the Maldives, but you can still have fun while you get out of debt. In fact, I would encourage you to do so! And don’t worry, I checked: there is is no rule that debt is a no fun zone.
Don’t forget that the things we look back and remember with great fondness are the simple things. Entertainment doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive to be memorable or satisfying, so let have some fun!
It’s time to dust off your board games and enact a regular family game night. You can rotate between various board and card games to keep it fun. And don’t forget the most important part — the prizes! Perhaps, a get-out-of-a-chore reward, such as doing dishes, would make a highly coveted prize.
Tip: With the holidays fast approaching, add some board games to your Christmas list. In the summer months, be on the lookout for cheap board games at garage sales.
This is great for a group. Make it a theme (you could even make it educational if you wanted) and have kids pair up with friends and unravel clues to hunt down the items.
Pop some popcorn and settle in to watch a favorite movie. Many libraries allow you check out movies for free or for a nominal charge. Redbox is another great alternative. Also if you sign-up with Redbox, they regularly email great coupons and text promo codes for free rentals. Or if you have Netflix, you may want to watch a new-to-you TV series together and binge watch a few episodes every Saturday night.
Form a neighborhood league with families looking for low-cost fun. Find a sport(s) that everyone loves and arrange a monthly game at a local park. It can be family against family or adults against kids or boys against girls. Keep it fun and friendly and it will be an afternoon everyone looks forward to every month.
Pitch your tent and gather around your fire pit or fireplace to roast marshmallows while you tell spooky stories. Point out constellations in the sky and watch for falling stars.
Pack a yummy lunch and head to your favorite park or beach for an afternoon of fun.
Go on a family walk or bike ride. Consider walking or riding someplace new to explore.
Winter provides a host of fun outdoors activities. Go sledding, ice skating or cross country skiing. If you don’t have the equipment or skill set, no problem! Have a snowman competition to see who can build the biggest one. Warm up afterwards with homemade hot chocolate.
When you’re dealing with debt, it’s easy to get tunnel vision where it’s about ME, ME, ME. You only think about your problems and what you have to temporarily give up. Volunteering is a great way to give you and your kids some perspective.
Many museums are free or offer a monthly free or half-price day. You may also be able to find coupons through Living Social or Groupon.
Tip: Checkout your city’s visitor’s bureau website. You’ll find out what your city has to offer and all its upcoming events.
If you’re handy (and even if you’re not), find a project to build together. Maybe a birdhouse or a shelf or whatever catches your fancy. If hammers and nails don’t appeal to you, then try your hand at jewelry-making or sewing. You may be able turn it into a side hustle and sell your goods on craiglist or etsy.
Your place of worship typically offers a variety of activities for families, adults and children. Take advantage of them. Most are free or very low-cost. I loved my Church’s youth group and still have many great memories from my years of participation.
Many communities offer a variety of free or low-cost events. From free summer concerts at the park to cheering your local high school or college teams every Friday night, there are tons of options. Those seeking more cultural events should check out their community and college theaters which put on numerous plays for a fraction of the price of their professional counterparts.
Breaking bread with friends and family is an activity many enjoy, but it can be costly. Instead of $50 Champagne brunches, form a dining club with friends where every month a different member hosts a potluck meal at their home. You’ll still get to connect with friends and socialize but without the hefty bill and tip.
Tip: Make each month a different theme to keep it entertaining and not the same food every month.
Thanks to our smartphones, almost everyone has a video camera these days, so start taking movies. They are great way to capture special moments, not only for yourself but for loved ones who don’t live nearby. There are tons of programs available to edit your movies and your kids likely know how to use them. 🙂 Post them on YouTube and Facebook to share with friends and maybe you’ll even go viral.
There was a time where I associated fun with the amount of money I spent. That was a mistake on my part. Replace that old, flawed thinking and decide what fun really means to you. When you have limited funds, a little ingenuity and effort can help reshape how you and your kids view and have fun. It wouldn’t surprise me, if years later, your kids recall those family game nights, picnics at the park and family bike rides the most vividly and cherish those memories the most.
What are some of your favorite family activities? What family activity do you remember most from your childhood?
Interesting guest post and had to hit on your last comment. The key is "we have been conditioned to think that it costs money". And we are conditioned by about $85 billion worth of advertising per year. I want to be very clear this isn't some rant on advertising / companies / capitalism being evil, its just simply acknowledging that business pay to get us to pay our money.. no business spends money to say "stay at home"
The key then is for us to simply realize this and challenge our beliefs. And your post is a great start.. and its ideas are what each of us need to embrace.
Thanks for the ideas!!
Another cheap activity we've done is Geocaching. It is like a glorified scavenger hunt where you follow clues to find items placed by people somewhere in the outdoors. There is a whole website devoted to it (geocaching.com) and it's really fun trying to hunt down the caches.