Frugal Family Fun: Making Memories on a Budget

October 13, 2008 · Filed Under Frugal Parenting · Comments Off on Frugal Family Fun: Making Memories on a Budget 

Written by: Nicole Dean
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What childhood memories do you hold dear? For me, it was all the times “life happened”.  The little things like playing outside, riding my bike with the wind in my hair, playing at the park, swimming in the lakes, giggling with friends. None of those moments cost a cent, yet they are some of my most treasured memories.

Frugal Family Fun  is very easy to do. Choose any of the 31 ideas below and you’ll have a fun-filled time without breaking the bank!

* Garden – Plant flowers, fruit trees, herbs, or vegetables. Your child will learn science, responsibility    and have fun!
* Snip-it – Give your child old toy catalogs or magazines and safe scissors. Watch them cut all day.
* Diggin’ It – Send your child outside with a bucket and small shovel. Shoveling snow, sand, dirt or rocks — it’s all good fun.
* Sing – Turn up the radio and sing! Teach your child the music of the 70s, 80s, or 90s.
* Play Catch – Throw different items (balloons, tennis balls) to your child. Roll balls to young children.
* Sidewalk Chalk – Lay on the sidewalk and take turns outlining each other. Decorate your flat selves.
* Cardboard Boxes – Make towers, build cities, design play houses, airplanes, trains, forts and more!
* Bubbles – Blow Bubbles. Take turns chasing and popping them.
* Masks – Create Masks from Paper bags, paper plates, foam, or anything on hand.
* Cards – Introduce your child to all the classic games — UNO, Crazy 8, Go Fish, Old Maid, Memory Match.
* Scavenger Hunt – Give your child a list of clues and send him out to find them. Clues can be simple (find a rock) or very advanced (find a piece of granite).
* Throw Rocks – Go to a pond, creek, or lake and throw rocks. Try to skip them or aim for different targets.
* Bath Time – Bring kitchen utensils into the bath tub. Bubbles and water can become an imaginary gourmet dinner.
* Office – Give your child Junk Mail, stickers, a calculator and pen — they’ll have their own office!
* Photography – Let your child use a disposable camera or a digital camera and witness their creativity. They may surprise you!
* Picnic – Make some sandwiches and eat them outside.
* Cooking – Find age-appropriate recipes and let your child help in the kitchen.
* Tag – How many versions of tag do you remember from your childhood? Teach the oldies to your children (freeze tag, TV tag, etc.)
* Write a Story – Younger children can write wiggle-worm sentences (much scribbling and
pictures). Encourage older children to write chapter books — your child could pen the next Harry Potter or Magic Tree house.
* Charades – Toddlers can act out and guess their favorite animals (usually with many sound effects). Older children will enjoy acting out movie titles.
* Flashlight – Turn off the lights & make shadow puppets. Or get two flashlights and chase the light beams.
* Wildlife – Feed the ducks, squirrels, birds, turtles or fish near you.
* Abundance – Every day, have your children tell you what they are thankful for.
* Dress Up – Give your children your clothes and watch them imitate you.
* Treats – Make cookies and decorate them.
* Dance – Turn up the music and Dance!
* Play Games – Teach your child all your favorite board games.
* Journal – Present a notebook or diary to your child and encourage them to express their feelings with pictures and words.
* Tea Party – Grab the stuffed animals and treat them to a delicious cup of imaginary tea.
* Keep in Touch – Write a letter to Grandparents, Aunts or Uncles. Teach the importance of family.
* I Spy – Come up with age-appropriate clues and let you child guess what you are thinking.

Be sure to print out this list and keep it handy for the next time your children say “MOMMMMMM — we’re bored!”

Frugal Living and Kids

October 13, 2008 · Filed Under Frugal Parenting · Comments Off on Frugal Living and Kids 

Copyright 2000/2001 Deborah Taylor-Hough

All rights reserved.  Don’t transmit, copy, reprint, post to other webpages, or use in any print media without written permission from the copyright holder.  Thanks!  🙂

Frugal living and raising kids. Is it possible for those two phrases to fit together? Here’s a quick list of simple ideas for saving money on regular child-related expenses and/or fun activities.


1) Give older children and teenagers their own reasonable clothing budget. They quickly learn that the money only goes so far. If they want designer jeans, fine, but they’ll have to cut back somewhere else or earn the extra money themselves.

2) Check for children’s clothing, especially infant sizes, at yard sales in expensive neighborhoods. Name brand items in excellent condition can often be found for less than a dollar a piece.

3) Always say “yes” to hand-me-down clothes from friends and family. If you really need help financially, a refusal of clothing could indicate to someone that you no longer have need for clothing so they might stop offering all together. Give what you don’t need to someone else who could use a hand. Hand-me-downs are not only free but are usually in better condition than garage sales or thrift stores.

4) Sell children’s clothes you’re finished with at a children’s resale/consignment store. You’ll get a better rate of return than at a yard sale.

5) Get free video rentals at local libraries.

6) Be patient and wait to see new movies when they come out in video.

7) Check to see if there are any discount movie theaters in your area. Many of these places show movies just before they’re released on video. A family of four can go out for an evening at the movies and spend around $10 for a fun family outting (watch the candy, popcorn and drink purchases however — that’s where the bill can go sky-high). These theaters often play the movies for only a week or two, so keep track of which movies you want to see and check each week for what’s playing at the discount theaters.

8) Go to the first show of the day at first-run theaters for the best price of the day.

9) Rather than buying separate admissions to different educational or fun family destinations, buy one yearly pass to either the zoo or the aquarium or a theme park. Go repeatedly to that one place each time you want a family outing. You’ll easily save the cost of the family admission, plus you’ll have the benefit of not feeling pressured to see everything in one day. You can always see what you missed the next time you come. Next year buy a pass to somewhere else.

10) Check for free concerts, plays and other live family entertainment at local parks during the summer months.

11) Call and find out if your local college stage production group, ballet or orchestra will let you quietly watch them rehearse for free.

12) Go fly a kite (literally!).

13) Learn to juggle. It’s entertaining, creates family cooperation and it’s great exercise.

14) Make the most of available student discounts. Show your child’s school ID at museums, zoos, galleries, etc.

15) Instead of an expensive day of professional sports, go to a high school or college game.

16) Borrow high-ticket baby items from family and friends: car seats, baby swings, playpens, strollers, bassinets, cribs, high chairs. Remember to take excellent care of borrowed items … and don’t forget to return them!

17) Purchase high-ticket items at children’s resale or consignment stores. Look in the Yellow Pages. These stores sort through the junk so the merchandise they sell is often in “like-new” condition.

18) Buy retired diapers from local diaper services. These are still serviceable and sold for a fraction of the cost of new cotton diapers. Even if you have to replace them now and then, the monetary savings are still tremendous.

19) Put your baby’s tiny socks into a zippered lingerie bag when you put them in the washing machine. They won’t get lost, so this cuts down on unmatched socks and the subsequent replacement costs.

20) Consider using a Certified Nurse Midwife for routine pregnancy and childbirth care. The cost of a hospital birth using a CNM can be nearly a third less than the same birth attended by an OB/GYN. Check to see if there is a CNM associated with your local hospital or birthing center. Most medical insurance companies offer coverage for CNM pregnancy/childbirth care (check with your insurance carrier for specifics).


Deborah Taylor-Hough (free-lance writer, wife and mother of three) is the editor of the Simple Times and Bright-Kids email newsletters.  She’s also the author of the bestselling book, Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month, and A Simple Choice : A Practical Guide to Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity.

Wonderful Books by the Author of This Article:

A Simple Choice : A Practical Guide to Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity

Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month

Frozen Assets Lite and Easy: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month

Cook for a Day: Eat for a Month : Frozen Assets Readers’ Favorite

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