It can feel like every family on the block is going to the ice show or packing their bags for Disneyland while you’re left trying to figure out how to cover basic expenses. When cash flow is low, stress is high, but don’t let your adult troubles trickle down to your kiddos. Who cares if you can’t keep up with the Jones’? Make your own brand of fun your kids will never forget.
Use Free Resources
When the budget is really tight, even renting a movie can cost too much. Many libraries have a selection of videos users can borrow free of charge, ranging from childhood favorites to films that have been recently released. While you’re there, load up on books to read together as a family. And look for a schedule of library events. Most libraries have story time and other free programs for families with young children. Some libraries have other events for the community as well, such as music series, movie events or family friendly lectures. Pack a bag of toys, such as sand buckets, frisbees and balls, and head to the park. Even a construction work site is an entertainment option. Young kids will watch the machines at work with awe. Just don’t get too close.
Find Free Events
Don’t stay huddled up at home. Get out into the community to find free events. Unless you live in a small town or rural area, you’ll likely find plenty of free activities going on — especially on weekends. Look for family festivals, parades, business grand openings, youth sports games and live music in the park. If your city has a museum, call to see if they have a free day. Some museums offer free admittance during slow times. Free community activities are even better if you can walk or ride bikes to get there. No gas money means even more money savings without cutting out the fun.
Play at Home
If your community options are limited or too far away, make your own fun without leaving the house. Announce an impromptu family craft day. Don’t have a closet full of craft supplies? No problem. Use household waste, such as food boxes or paper scraps, to make a recycled collage or sculpture. Or, head outdoors to collect leaves, twigs and flowers for a nature craft. If crafts aren’t your thing, put together a scavenger hunt list for your house or neighborhood. You can also plan a family game night with the games you have on hand or make up your own. Family charades, anyone? No need for expensive game parts.
When you’re facing your own financial problems, it’s tough to think about helping others. But charity doesn’t have to come in the form of donations from your wallet, and it can give your family some meaningful, fun time to interact with each other and members of your community. Why not ring the bells at the collection kettles around the holidays as a family, keeping it fun by singing Christmas carols? If your kiddos love animals, check with a local animal shelter to see if your family can help out in some way. Clean up the neighborhood by picking up trash as you take a family walk. Just make sure your preschooler wears gloves and only picks up safe items, such as wrappers, that won’t hurt her.