Entertaining the entire family can be a costly task. Here are ten ways to save on family fun this summer.
As summer approaches, many parents become worried about how to keep their kids entertained. The good news is that there are plenty of frugal activities you can do. Even if you're a couple or single, these ideas can provide you with plenty of frugal fun all through summer.
How to Save on Family Fun During the Summer
Don't assume these frugal ideas are only applicable during the summer. You might be surprised if you take a step back to discover that you can save on family fun throughout the year.
Free outdoor fun is available year-round if you're not afraid to use your imagination. Take advantage of public parks, trails, and green spaces. Go for a hike with your family and try to identify native plants and wildlife. Bring the bikes, the kites, and a picnic for an entire day of free family fun.
Host a neighborhood game night
Take turns with families in your neighborhood or community hosting family game nights. Warm weather brings plenty of outdoor options for large groups of children and adults. Scavenger hunts and treasure hunts, charades, or kickball will guarantee a good time. A backyard movie night under the stars will bring all ages together, especially with sheets spread across the lawn and buckets of popcorn to share.
Even now that I'm in my forties and single, I have fun at game night. My friends and I often get together to play board games on a Saturday or some evening. My grown son still comes over to play Magic.
Hit the books
Libraries are a great source of entertainment on a budget. Libraries now have more than books to check out. Movies, video games, and CDs are all available. You might even be able to access digital books, movies, and music through a library app on your phone or other mobile device.
Libraries also host weekly and monthly events for all ages, and they're usually a great source of information on local activities. Millennial and Gen Z folks are leading a renaissance for libraries. Many libraries offer maker spaces and provide a place where you can meet with others and enjoy activities without the need to spend money.
Volunteering is a budget-friendly way to spend a few hours or an entire weekend with your family. Check with your local community center or church to find family-friendly volunteering opportunities such as park clean-ups or food banks. There are lots of ways to do good in the world just by getting involved locally.
Everyone will keep busy, stay active, and give back to their community in a memorable way. Recognize your family work with an ice cream sundae finish or some other treat.
Take your family on a staycation
Turn your hometown into a vacation destination to save on transportation and lodging expenses. Plan to visit local tourist destinations and attractions. See if you can get a local discount or if there's an option for your kids to get in for free.
In the evening, get out of the house by cooking and camping in the backyard. You can also build a blanket fort in the living room and sleep there.
Visit national and state parks
National and state parks offer plenty to see and do. Also, they're a bargain compared to large, commercial tourist attractions. State parks are generally cheaper, charging one small fee for the entire vehicle, and still offer plenty of exploration and activities. Although national parks cost more, they have several free admission days throughout the year and aren't as expensive as most commercial attractions.
Plus, you might be able to get a pass. I buy a National Parks Pass each year. After three uses, it's already paid for itself. On top of that, fourth-graders get a free pass. There are also passes available for those with disabilities and senior citizens. In my state, a state park pass costs $10 a year when I renew my vehicle registration. It's a great deal and I use it all the time.
Pass on the extras
Inevitably, your crew will visit one or many commercial attractions this season. Amusement parks, zoos, aquariums, museums, and even national monuments can be a blast for your family.
Cut your costs to these destinations by calling ahead and checking their regulations on bringing food and beverages into the park. Save over $3 a bottle on water and even more by packing a picnic lunch. If you plan on visiting a water park, bring your own towels instead of renting them. Also, be sure to skip the souvenir shop on your way out.
You don't need all the extras, and cutting back on them can keep more money in your pocket for the next fun thing.
Become a member
If your family enjoys a certain theme park or water park, ticket costs could add up quickly. Consider purchasing membership or season passes to save you in the long run. Some memberships will save you money on admission to multiple museum locations, even overseas. These passes could also get you into installations, demonstrations, and events throughout the entire year.
I pay for a membership to my local museum each year for my son and me. Even though he's grown now, we still like to go to the museum together, and the membership means we see all the new exhibits at a lower rate. I buy season passes to the symphony and the local theater.
Ask around to find the best deal for your family.
Friending your favorite spots on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter could save you money on your next purchase or visit since many will post exclusive deals for their followers. Keep your eye on the activities and entertainment sections of daily deals sites to get discounts in your area. Sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial regularly offer discounts on some of the coolest activities around the country, typically over 50% off.
No one likes an inbox full of spam and offers, but you can benefit from carefully curating the deals you want.
Get discounted tickets
Entertainment books, community drives, and local papers offer fan favorites at reduced prices. Look for promotional offers geared towards families, such as buy one, get one free, or half-off tickets. AAA, group rates, and other discounts may apply, so it never hurts to ask. Discounted tickets from online vendors are almost always cheaper for large groups than gate prices at many amusement and theme parks.