Sense & Centsibility Blog

Seven Cheap or Free Family Fun Activities

Multiracial family at a picnicFinding ways to entertain a family is certainly not challenging, with the onslaught of bigger and better (and more expensive) entertainment options. We now have giant movie screens that encompass 360 degrees, malls with amusement parks inside of them, and giant water parks seemingly in every town with more than one hotel. The problem is, of course, money. These (seemingly) fun times are all hiding long lines of patrons all waiting to hand over fistfuls of cash!

Here are seven cheap or free ways to have fun with the family and not break the bank:

1. Support your local museum. A museum does not have to be mummies and old pictures. Find a natural history museum, or museum of modern art, etc. You get the idea...you can usually make a day of it for under $30 for a family.

2. Volunteer! There are fun places to volunteer like your local community center, church, or humane society. Walking dogs and playing with cats can provide hours of entertainment. Plus, you are sneaking in life lessons for the kids at the same time. Who knows, you may even just change a life in the process.

3. Play tourist in your own city. Go to that landmark you drive by every day. Take that forest history tour or walking tour in bigger cities. Be goofy, grab a camera, and go around and see all the sites in your area. This adventure is surprisingly cheap, especially since you know the expensive tourist traps to avoid. You may just be amazed at how beautiful your own town really is. You would be hard pressed to spend more than $30 if you play your cards right!

4. Dust off a game or two. Yard games are cheap and easy to make, and there are board games in just about every house in the country. Many of them are dusty and ignored. Nothing brings families together like the quest for world domination! If you really want to bond with the kids, drag out that old video game system and have a retro gaming night. Fun for the whole family!

5. Explore a national park or forest. Many parks are free, or charge a token parking fee. You can access miles of state trails and beautiful scenery, all for usually under $10. Pack a picnic lunch and some easy snacks and you are all set for the day.Family sitting down next to lake

6. Find a “kid’s ___ free” night. Many restaurants and other entertainment venues are offering kid’s eat or get in for free with a paid adult. This allows access to more “mainstream” entertainment ideas at a healthy discount. A family of four can easily save $15 on dinner if two kids are eating for free!

7. Visit your church or community center. Organized community events are often low or no cost events. You will be surprised at how many kid’s carnivals, hayrides, and agate searches kids can embark upon for no cost whatsoever.

Remember, with a little thought and creativity, you can reduce the cost of ANY event. Pack a lunch, ride share, and avoid having to buy the “little things” like pop, snacks, and coffee. A quick stop at the gas station can end up costing $20 easily with hungry, hot kids along. You can also find local deals through coupon books or online auction sites to save even more on fun local businesses and events!  And check out these cheap date night ideas, too.

To learn about more creative ways to save money, call LSS Financial Counseling at 1.888.577.2227 to schedule an appointment with an LSS Financial Counselor. We can help you take action today to improve your spending habits and build up emergency savings, which everyone needs.

Malcolm Johannessen is an LSS Certified Financial Counselor and specializes in Foreclosure Prevention Counseling.