Here are some activities that teach thriftiness, encourage family values, and offer a lesson about finances:
- Create your own “at home” restaurant. Do you have a favorite family restaurant or meal? Try bringing the restaurant setting to your home for a change. Decorate your dining room according to a theme, and buy all the ingredients you need for your menu. Assign roles to each of your family members to prepare, serve, and clean up after the meal. Figure out how much money you can save by eating in, and share your findings with the kids.
- Go on an adventure. Instead of looking at photos of glorious landscapes, step outside and discover them yourself. Go to a park or take a hike in the woods with your family. Bring a camera and do a scavenger hunt. The fresh air will leave you invigorated, and you’ll realize that an enjoyable family experience can be had at little to no cost. Beautiful scenery is just outside your door– patiently waiting for you to find it.
- Have your own family movie night. How much money do you normally spend at the movies? Tickets alone are expensive, and you want popcorn and a soda. And the kids want candy. There goes $67.48 (or a similar figure). But “Spy Squirrels 2” comes out next month? Consider renting movies to watch affordably at home and buying your own snacks. Make sure the kids understand how much money is saved. You can make your own concession stand and get extra-cozy. Write your own movie reviews and share them with other families.
- Volunteer together. Using your free time to help others can be a real eye-opener. You may meet new people, learn new skills (which could even be marketable), cement a family identity of service to others, learn about issues you may not have been aware of, and have a lot of fun in the process. Decide as a family how you want to volunteer and go for it. Afterwards talk about how it felt to help, and decide if it’s something you’d like to do again.
- Have a family game night. Board games can be played again and again for no additional cost, teach values of good sportsmanship, and can be a ton of fun. Plan ahead and decide which game or games you will play. (It could even be a game with play money.) Decide on a prize for the winner. It could be a homemade trophy or a choice for the weekend’s activities. Have a big award ceremony when it’s over.
These activities are just a few examples of ways to spend time with your family without having to spend a lot of money. If you have any other thrifty family activities, please share them with us! We’d love to add more numbers to the list.