Budget Friendly Fun!
David Bakke is a father of a young son living in Atlanta. He writes about budgeting and teaching kids about money on the popular finance blog, MoneyCrashers.com.
With summer vacation looming, you may find yourself struggling to budget for fun activities for both you and your kids. In a still sluggish economy, it can definitely seem like a daunting task but, coming up with entertaining things to keep your children occupied is not impossible. With just a little research and creative thinking, there’s no reason family entertainment expenses should take a big bite out of your budget.
1. Read Aloud to Them
Reading aloud to your children may be the most beneficial free activity you can share with them. Just pick up a box full of used books from a second-hand store. Select a wide variety and read your old favorites along with some more recent classics. You can engage your children in further conversation about the books after you’re done, and even suggest writing a “sequel” yourselves to spark their creative drive.
2. Play Old-School Games
Reach back into your childhood memories for the games you loved to play when you were young. Your kids are sure to love Red Rover, Blind Man’s Bluff, Kick the Can, and any other of your old favorites ñ and you may even have a little fun yourself. Playing fun, physical games is a great way to pull your kids away from their video games for a little while and get them out into the fresh air.
3. Create Your Own Games
Get creative and invent fun games of your own. If you live in a two-story home, get a tennis ball and play a game called Upstairs/Downstairs. The goal is to toss the ball up the stairs and count how many steps it bounces on its way down. To earn points you have to catch the ball, and whoever gets to 50 points first wins. There are countless possibilities for a family game night if you and your kids put your minds to work.
4. Buy a Kids’ Trivia Game
If you want to entertain the kids and educate them at the same time, buy a kid-friendly trivia game. Most children are already motivated to beat their parents at just about anything, and this is one way they can easily accomplish it. If you’re liberal with the rules, throw in a physical element to get your kids some exercise while educating themselves. Most games are affordably priced at around $10-$15 and are good for hours of fun.
5. Consider Skating
I live in the Southeast, and was pleasantly surprised to find some ice- and roller-skating options not far from home. The cost for two was under $20, and if you purchase used skates for your children, you can pay even less in total costs. Roller-skating and ice-skating make for excellent exercise for both you and your kids, and you might be surprised to find a rink in your area.
6. Involve Them in Home Repairs
If you have a few touch-up jobs around the house, it couldn’t hurt to involve the little ones. As long as the project is fairly simple – changing out a door knob or a simple home bathroom repair – you can teach your kids at an early age about the benefits of performing DIY projects on your own, both for saving money and learning the value of hard work.
Once you start realizing some savings, make sure you put them in the proper place. You could bump up your 401K contributions, pay down some credit card debt, or start to build up an emergency fund. Reducing expenses for entertainment activities for your kids is important, but putting those savings to good use is what’s really going to give them a secure financial future.
What ways can you think of to entertain your kids without breaking the bank?