Family Fun on the Cheap

Because I have a family of four children, I am constantly looking for ways to have outings that do not cost much money.  I have learned over the years that taking the family out, doesn’t have to cost a whole lot, but can often times be educational and fun for the whole family.  Search the internet with basic words such as “free family fun” and the state or city name.  Presto, multiple links appear with suggestions for museums, national parks, festivals, craft centers, theaters.  Many are advertising free admittance or shows.  Follow different organizations on social media sites so you can be notified of upcoming events.

Get the Family Involved

When the kids were younger, it was me talking to friends to find ideas.  As the children have grown, they have taken a more active role. Have your kids help make a budget for the day–to include gas, and assist on researching the web pages.  When kids contribute, it helps get them excited, when they hear of a great outing at school or activity recommended by a friend, which is affordable.


Besides outings, volunteer!  Find an organization that interests a person, and start making this a family affair.  The activity may not interest the whole family at first, but then when everyone starts participating, the family’s interest will grow.

My second daughter loves acting, and has been involved with theater for many years.  This year the rest of the family started volunteering as ushers, coat-check-in, and working in the ticket booth.  Now we have gotten to know her friends, and can appreciate theater life.  Although I do not think the rest of us will take up acting, we have found our place in her world, plus we now get to watch the theater productions for free!

While travelling last summer in Florida, I went grocery shopping at a health food store.  When visiting with the cashier I discovered that if families volunteer for four hours each month on the farm, there would be a 10% discount on store purchases.  This was an inspiring idea.  The family learned about food production from the farm to the store, plus it cut the grocery bill by 10%.  This was just four hours for the WHOLE family, so for us it is one hour per a person per month.

This new learning experience gave the whole family a sense of ownership in contributing to our food, and an awareness of helping grow some of the products we were eating.  Talk to organizations, friends, and even strangers.  Volunteer jobs will be offered to you through these venues. Some locations have web pages just for volunteering.

Be Creative

Lastly, if a member of your family enjoys a sport, find creative ways to support that sport.  Two of my children love to run.  My eldest daughter runs cross country for the high school, and my youngest son runs track for the youth sports organization.  So we now read the local newspapers to find advertisements for 5K fun runs, many of which support charities.  We also choose a couple of runs a year that are themed, which adds excitement to the run.  Some of the fun ones we have done include a 5K through a zoo, a Halloween Run in costumes, a Dog Run for those with pets.

The main thing is, to find free activities and try them.  I had thought running would be torture, but because companies are interested in enticing families, runs can be fun with a carnival-like atmosphere.

Here are some links to help get you started:

Cheap Outings for the Family

Picnics 101: A Guide to Cheap & Easy Family Outings

Cheap Winter Family Outings

photo by: mikebaird
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About Kristine Young

Kristine Young, a current AFCPE intern, earned her Masters Degree in Human Relations from University of Oklahoma, Overseas Branch. Kristine currently works at Patch High School in Stuttgart, Germany as an AVID tutor. It is through her experiences of working with scouts, teen programs, high school, and raising four children, she became aware of how few teens have opportunities to learn about finances. To her, the teaching of financial independence while still in a home environment establishes the quality future habits and security that one desires.