Remember those days when you could give a kid a card board box and they could entertain themselves for hours? I hope that when it comes to teaching my kids about money, they will have already developed these habits just from watching us.
The Joys of cheap entertainment:
We like to play games. See 7. Cheap friends
We like to go to museums. See 8. Go Ahead and Buy the Pass
We like to go to parks, the library, and our local YMCA (the first two are generally free. The YMCA was not necessarily free, but it was our Xmas present from Grandma and Grandpa, so we are determined to at least get their money's worth)
Yes, we have our favorite shows. We even invite friends over to watch favorites together.
We have a regular babysitter. She is a friend from our church, who not only loves our kids, but wants to watch them for us, for free.) Sometimes we kid swap with other people, so that they can have cheap nights out, too.
We take advantage of FREE POPCORN night at our local movie theater. It is almost as good as the 2 for $5 night on Mondays. (Which we would do, but our sitter is not available on Mondays) Cheap theaters are only one benefit of living in a small town. See 4. We live in a small house in a small town.
We also look for matinee or reduced price seating for shows and ballets that we are interested.
Our local college and High Schools also put on quality shows, and we like to support them whenever possible.
Our local sports team also has discount nights to encourage attendance. We keep these marked on our calendar, so we know what is going on.
We read the local small town newspaper. This usually has good information on local events, fairs, festivals and fundraisers.
We subscribe to e-newsletters to our favorite places, so that we can get updates on special events happening in our area.
We include eating out as part of our entertainment budget. Many people put this in the food category, but since we are perfectly capable of cooking our own food, going to a restaurant is for entertainment, and not nutrition.
We plan outings in advance to take advantage of cheap options when going to the city, i.e. train v. parking; packing a lunch v. buying; using coupons, passes or free days; bringing plenty of snacks so you can choose what you want to splurge on.
Our kids are at the age that they enjoy play groups or story times, like the free ones at the library, book stores, local schools or churches.
We have a Hobby night in our weekly schedule for everyone to work on their own personal hobby. I enjoy scrapbooking, my husband likes to draw and build high end audio equipment, my daughter likes to draw, and my two sons like to play with model trains. (okay, really, its Thomas the Tank Engine) This way we can all be doing what we love, sort of together, and see what each other is working on.
What are some cheap ways that you like to entertain your family?