Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Money Saving Tuesday- fun times on a shoestring

There are so many things to do with kids these days. Gymnastics, swim lessons, mommy and me yoga, gym classes, dancing, museums, toddler time at roller skating rinks, music for little ones, etc. And all of these things cost money. As much as I would love to try some of them we just don't have the extra money that enables us to do this. But I also don't want to just stay at home all the time either.

So what do you do if you are like me and on a budget?

You find things that are free, cheap or ways to reduce prices on things that cost money.

For instance we have a local children's museum that runs weekly playgroups. I love my kids to participate but I do not have the $7 each week to take them plus a $30 a year membership fee. That is $28 a month and it adds up. To some $28 really isn't much. But to me it is a lot. Plus that is just one activity. I still want to go so what do I do? The museum needs volunteers. so I design and put up the bulletin boards each month. In return I get to take my kids each week for free, all I pay is the $30 a year. My kids have a great time, I like to do the bulletin boards and I save money. It is a win-win-win.

Another local museum has great things for kids but with an entrance fee of $6 per person per visit we wouldn't be able to go even monthly. I looked into it and they have memberships. A yearly membership is $75 for a family of four. Not exactly cheap but when the alternative is $24 each time our family goes it comes out to be a great deal. Even better? My brother wanted to get us a family gift for Christmas. Perfect for his budget and perfect for my family. Now we get to go to the museum whenever we want, and we go often!

The local zoo that we love is small but really nice. It is $6 for an adult and $4 for a kid each time you go in. Or you can pay $65 for a year's membership for a family of five and go as many times as you like. The zoo that the park is located in costs $2 to park each time, or if you live in the city you can buy a permit for the year for $10. So for $75 we have tons of things to do- the zoo and everything else in the park. They have a sprinkler park, duck ponds, several trails in the woods, two playgrounds, fields to run around in and a pool as well. It is right down the street and we go there often.

Then there are free things to do. Most parks with playgrounds are free. Just the cost of gas to get there and we have a change from our backyard and maybe even some new friends to play with. Feeding the ducks is a great way to get rid of stale bread and have (free) fun for a little while. We can take a walk down the street and go on a nature hike through the woods. Or we can go to the library and there are tons of things to do there for free. Storytime is a favorite. And they often have crafts for the kids or special events around different holidays. Owen is hooked on making puzzles everytime we go lately. And Madeline is in love with borrowing puppets (I love this too since it is great way to have a "new" stuffed animal for a short period of time!) Not to mention all the books and dvds you can borrow for free each week.

It isn't always easy to find things to do with kids that are free and are not in your own house. I do love arts and crafts and playing in our backyard. But we all need to get out of the house and see other people sometimes. You just need to look around, use coupons and be a little creative and there are plenty of things to do!

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