Family fun is one of those things that an overwhelming majority of people seem to think is out of their family budget. They will sit at home, bored out of their mind, waiting for fun to come to them. The thing is though that you can save money on family fun and it isn’t as hard as you might think. In fact, it can actually be quite easy when you’ve taken the time to learn how to save money on family fun. For our family, we seek out as many frugal family activities as possible to keep ourselves occupied. The result? We are very rarely simply sitting around bored and we have a blast together each week!
For some families, doing an activity once or twice a month will be enough. For others, like mine, you will prefer to keep yourself busy. No matter what though, learning how to save money on family fun isn’t something that you’re going to want to skip doing. Family activities are something that you will likely be doing at some point for the rest of your life so if you take the time to learn now, you’ll be able to save later. Spending time with your family is more important than most people realize so please, please, please don’t skip it.
Family Budget: How to Save Money on Family Fun
Keep in mind that whatever you’re doing doesn’t have to be some super extensive event to be fun. Sometimes, the smallest trips and actions are the most fun. The tips below will help you with your planning your trip, but it won’t give you ideas for family fun. You’ll have to come up with that part on your own for now. They will however help you save quite a bit the next time that you go to plan a family outing.
Ask for a Discount –
No, you didn’t read that wrong. I really am telling you to simply ask for a discount. The worst that can happen is that you’re told no. You would be surprised at how many companies actually will discount you a bit simply because you asked. Make sure that you give them plenty of time to approve the discount with their supervisor. If they tell you no, you’re not any worse for the wear, but if they tell you yes? You’ll save simply because you asked.
Skip the expensive movie options –
Movie night is just one of the ways that movies can play into a family fun night, but if you try and take everyone out to the theater, you’ll go broke pretty quickly. Luckily, there are other options that are much cheaper. Netflix, Hulu, the library, Amazon Instant Video, CBS All Access and more all make family movie night affordable. CBS All Access gives you one week free, Hulu and Netflix will even give new customers 2 weeks free and Amazon Instant Video gives you 30 days free. Grab a few popcorn boxes and pop your own, serve your favorite soda or drinks and you’ll save even more. This one is especially great for kids who want to see a movie with their friends. If you absolutely must go out to the theater, using a site like Fandango to save money on movie tickets can help.
Plan your vacations ahead of time –
We all need to get away sometimes, but the truth is that vacations can be extremely expensive. Planning early can ensure that you not only have a great time with your family, but that you also save money. The earlier that you plan, the more deals and discounts that you can look for. For deals, check places such as CityPass, Expedia, Southwest Airlines, and Priceline. Extended Stay America usually has fantastic rates on hotel rooms (especially if you’re planning on staying more than a day or two. Their rates get cheaper the longer you stay) and if you’re looking for deals on Disney, Destinations in Florida Travel is a great place to start.
Enjoy Community Events –
Throughout the summer months and into Fall, most local communities will host events for you to enjoy. Things like summer movies in the park, summer fests, parades, camping trips, and more. You can usually find them in your local paper, tucked into your utility bills or on your town’s website. Most of the time these community events are free to attend, but occasionally you’ll find one that will run a few dollars or that you will need to pay for food and drink at. Even still, they’re usually much cheaper than a lot of other family activities.
Buy season passes or memberships –
Places like the zoo, amusement parks and even your city pool often offer season passes that can save you quite a bit of money. While they’re usually more expensive up front, over the course of the season, they’ll save you quite a bit. If you travel a lot or plan to do a lot of family activities over a season, picking up a membership like my friend Danielle from Roadschooling with The Frugal (Six Dollar Family) Navy Wife recommends can be a huge money saver. They work for numerous museums, science centers, aquariums and zoos and save you at least 50% off of most admission fees. For those who love to visit National or State parks, a National Parks pass or a State park pass can save you on admission fees as well.
Pitch for a review –
Do you have a blog, Youtube following or other social media following? Pitch the places you want to go for a review! Attractions and vacation spots are always looking for positive publicity and influencers are always on their list for getting that publicity. The basics of sending a pitch is to find the company or companies that you want to work with and send them an email. Tell them what you’re looking for and what you can do for them. The worst they can do is ignore your pitch or say no so what do you have to lose? If you don’t have a blog yet, starting one isn’t hard at all. In fact, you can start a blog in about 10 minutes for just a few dollars!
Take advantage of family fun at the library –
Your local library can be the mother load of fun and entertainment for your entire family. If your family budget is tight, make sure that you check your library for family activities. Most are completely free. You’ll usually find things like storytime and crafts for younger kids, scavenger hunts and tournaments for older and some libraries even have events for adults too. You’ll also want to check libraries that are in your county, but not the one you usually use. Most will allow you to participate as long as you have a local library card. Aside from the community events that libraries plan, there’s also the fun in finding a new book or renting a great movie for free.
Get crafty –
Some of the best family fun to be had can be by gathering your family together and getting creative. Gather everyone and paint a special room in your home, make a door wreath for your home with the kids help, create holiday decor or make a quilt for Grandma’s Christmas present. If none of your family are creative, taking a craft or cooking class together can be fun too! Online craft classes are generally cheaper than in person one (especially for a group of people) and these days, they’re just as good as the ones you actually attend!
Take in a show, but be sure to go at the “right” time –
Movies and shows are usually a fairly budget friendly way to have family fun on a budget, but you can save even more by picking the right day and time of day to go see them. Matinees are usually always considerably cheaper than shows that are shown during peak hours. Matinee shows are usually shown during the early afternoon to help drive customers at a time of day when the theater might otherwise be empty. Another great way to save on movies is by finding a dollar or discount theater. While you may not be able to see the most recent movies at a dollar theater, you will be able to enjoy an older movie that will be just as much fun to watch.
Mother Nature means family fun –
Do you realize that you have a beautiful and vast space that is all around you to use for frugal family fun? It starts right at your front door and can continue endlessly if you want it to. Getting outdoors is not only healthy, but it can be one of the cheapest ways to have family fun. If you have a backyard, starting a garden on a budget is easy to do and can be hours of fun for your family. If you have bikes collecting dust in the garage, dust them off and go for a family bike ride. Pack a picnic lunch and head to your local park for a family picnic. The possibilities really are endless and best of all, outdoor family fun is usually totally free.
Use coupon sites to save –
When you’re planning a family activity, there’s really no reason to pay full price when there are so many coupon sites available to help you save. Groupon is great for the “every day” family activity. Entertainment Books offer huge savings off of a lot of different things, family activities included. CityPass can help you save on the more expensive attractions. If you’re always looking for a deal on the fun that your family wants to have, you’ll usually find it.
Earn gift cards to help pay –
One of the biggest ways to save on family fun is by not paying for it! Why pay for something in cash when you can earn a gift card for it?! I personally add over $225/mo to my income every month and a lot of the time I use those gift cards to avoid paying cash for something. Doing so has saved me thousands over the years on everything from groceries to utility bills and yes, family activities.
Upcycle things around your home for family fun –
Upcycling is a fantastic way to save money and that is especially true for family fun. There are ways to upcycle blue jeans that are fun, ways to upcycle sheets that can be fun, ways to upcycle old bottles and even new ways to use empty milk jugs that are fun. Your family won’t care that it’s an upcycled project and your budget will love you for it.
Get together as a group –
Not only are most activities more fun when you’re in a group, but sometimes they’re actually cheaper. Be sure that you always check the group rate and if possible (and its cheaper), get together with a group of people. To make it cheapest on everyone, split the total admission price or total costs by the number of people involved. We typically split the adult rates and the kids rates separately since kids rates are usually much cheaper than adults.
Put Facebook to work –
Facebook is good for more than being annoyed by your friends posts. It can actually save you quite a bit of money. For family fun, check Facebook Events for activities that are coming up in your area. I check our local area at least once a week and most of the time I’m able to find 2-3 events that are free or super cheap. Even better is that when you mark that you’re interested, Facebook will remind you of it the day before or the day of so you won’t forget! For a busy momma like myself, that is a huge plus!