What Ways Have You Found to Be Thrifty and Have Fun

Updated on July 28, 2011
B.C. asks from Carterville, MO
9 answers

So part of me has been a little sad that this summer has taken such a beating on our budget. We had a move to contend with shortly before school ended. We moved to a much bigger home that while we pay a lot less in our rent, we have had a HUGE electric bill. We had a vehicle break down and it was deemed "Totaled" so back to one vehicle, but also meant a car payment and higher insurance...so we have been cutting as many corners and trying to adhere to a rather strict budget. Pinching pennies has never been so true...
While we have splurged a couple of times ( I have bought the kids McDonalds a hand full of times this summer) it never fails to make me a little sick at what a trip to a fast food restraunt costs when I think how far I could make that money stretch at the grocery store.
We also made one trip to a zoo this year when Andy had his summer vacation from work.
But other than that we have been ultra conservative.
I have found that being thrifty is actually kind of fun...I get a thrill when I score a great deal, make great use of coupons, stumble on an incredible sale/deal etc.
The kids think our home made juice pops, yogurt pops, pudding pops are awesome.
The kids have loved our movie nights ( we pick a netflix streaming movie and eat popcorn together, we have also made a tent and made smores in the livingroom for movie night in lieu of popcorn)
We have had a lot of fun at the pool and playing with water outside.
When Alex fell in love with Yo Gabba Gabba and wanted "Gabba Toys" I was over the moon happy to discover printables on Nickjr.com where we printed off puppets and made our very own diorama for them.
Kristen has loved her weekly trips to the library.
Both kids have enjoyed having guests sleepover and having everyone play play dough and build giant constructions out of blocks.
Also we have done a lot of baking from scratch and enjoyed our delicious baked goodies ( at a fraction of the cost of store
bought )
So.....what ways have you found to be thrifty and fun?

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answers from Albuquerque on

We have a local radio station that has free summer fun fridays. Every other friday they go someplace fun like the zoo, pools, etc and admission is free for everyone. My sister & I go to them all. Its so worth it.
And I coupons are sooooo helpful.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Picnics at the park behind our house, it can be P&J and Capri Suns, but with the playground and all the grass to play on it's fun!

Homemade playdough, there's so many different variations, we like the "kool-aid" one the best.

Movie marathons on the DVD, we pick a theme and run with it.

Days at the fountains at a park across town, we take our lunch and stay cool, the kids get tired and rest when we get home.

Sidewalk chalk, they have had a blast decorating the driveway, even the 27 month old.


Extra tae kwon do classes, they don't charge any more and encourage it!

Free movie nights near the beach : )

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Camping - inexpensive and memorable!

Zoo or Children's Museum - both fairly cheap


Squirt Gun Wars!

Farmer's Markets

Dress up days - even parents join in. I got to be a princess just last night.

Walks just as the sun sets

Baking cookies

Pool trips

Gathering all old clothes and toys and taking them to a shelter

Ice cream trips!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You are doing everything I would and have done!! YOU GO!!!

I still have date nights with my husband - I just wait until the kids go to bed and we throw a blanket on the floor and talk...it's a good way to catch up - we play scrabble..

We do Blockbuster instead of Netflix....

My kids love Mancala - it's a great "board" game that two people can play ...

i think you are doing a GREAT job!!! I'm sorry so many things hit you at the same time!!! I think you are handling it great!! YOU GO!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

* Arts and Crafts projects using recycled materials (google some)
* Playing grocery store using pantry items
* We like to make different flavors of popcorn and have a tasting to see which would we liked best
* Koolaid water paints (they make for slightly scented pages) it's just a packet of koolaid mixed with some water, google for a recipe as I haven't done this myself but my daughters old daycare provider would and it was always a hit. You can print out a coloring page of a grape to correspond with grape flavored koolaid for example.
* I would do some research online for free/cheap things to do in your area.

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answers from Dallas on

We do much of what you do - Netflix movie nights, love the library, tents in the living room, cooking and baking together, etc.

We also have passes to the local waterpark, and we take our own lunch. When we do go out to eat, often my youngest son and I will share a kid's meal at regular restaurants. Even kid's meals include so much food! Tomorrow we're going to a planetarium to see a show about black holes. For myself and 2 kids (one is a teenager) it's only $14. That's quite a bit cheaper than a regular movie.

It has been a fabulous summer!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My friends tease me all the time about how frugal we can be in this house. :) I am okay with that. Let's see...I save old bread that we won't eat in the freezer. When we go to the parks early in the morning, we can feed the ducks and parks are free. There are churches around here that have amazing indoor play areas. They are usually free or a dollar. We don't go to the regular movies ever, but we do go to a drive in around here once in a while (maybe twice a year). $20 to get in and we can bring our own snacks and it's a double feature and they cater to families! My husband works in the construction industry. He brings home old plans regularly. They make really cool wrapping paper and the kids LOVE to use the large sheets of paper for art, we just flip them over. My son wanted a spin art kit we saw at the store. I didn't want to shell out almost $30 for it, so we used an old salad spinner I had for spin art. The kids helped me turn old dog food bags into their library bags and now all their friends want one. I won't buy lunchables, but we make our own here at the house. We cook a lot. My hubby has a garden. He in the kids work in it nightly, they love to get dirty out there. They are learning about where food comes from and as an added bonus, we get "free" veggies. We never order out for pizza. Instead we all make it together and cook it on our grill. The kids adore making their own pizza creations. We are all about saving money where we can.

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answers from New York on

Check with the local libraries in your area. Many of them run free programs during the summer. Our library has discount passes to attractions in our area.

Rather than eating out at McD's, pack up a picnic lunch and head over to a park with a playground and spend a few hours.

Do you own a tent or can you borrow one? Go camping at a state campground. Invite a few friends over for a campout in the backyard.

Check with the Parks and Rec Dept., they often have free or low cost summer programs.

Many churches offer free or low cost summer bible camps.

Rather than buying fruit at the store, go pick some of your own.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

check web sites to find out which local museums have free admission days, which local parks have free concerts, public library for DVDs and other events (ours often has kids craft activities and occasional special guest events)

And a fun-and-frugal thing to do with friends (yours *or* your kids) is have a swap party - find things that are in good condition but not in use in your household (books, toys, gently-used outgrown clothes, etc.). There are different ways of organizing it - our women's group at church just has everyone place their things on tables grouped more or less by category, then you get a slip of paper for every item you brought and write your name on the slips, then place them on items you're interested in (if more than one person is interested in the same item, put all names in a hat and draw a name at random)

For kids - one neighbor has had kids bring toys/books they don't use anymore and set them on beach towels or blankets on the front lawn, then kids have an opportunity to browse and offer trades (the kids are reminded beforehand that they don't *have* to accept a trade if they don't want to).

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