Spending time with your family is a given. Whether it’s a weekly movie night in the house or a trip to the local amusement parks on the weekends, getting together with those you love the most is not only fun, but important. The only problem is, that if you’re on a tight budget like many households are today, finding ways to enjoy your family without the huge out of pocket expense can be a bit challenging. Finding alternatives to sitting in the house and watching paint dry however, doesn’t have to be as complicated as you may have imagined. Below, you’ll find three ways in which my family and I were able to save a great deal of money while still enjoying each other’s company.
1. Eating Out
I don’t know about you, but with the daily responsibility of going to work, caring for the household, and taking care of the kids, sometimes I’m not in the mood to cook. I just want to either hop in the car and hit the nearest restaurant…order a pizza or some Chinese and call it a day. However, even in my household of 3, even one night of takeout can cost an upwards of $35 while eating out can cost around $50 or more. Doing this once a week could add up to around $140-$200 a month! So I decided it was time to cut this bill in half and get creative. Here are some suggestions you can try.
· Try New Cuisines – What we enjoy about eating out is being able to taste some of the cuisines that we wouldn’t normally get at home. So to switch things up and make eating at home a bit more interesting, I decided to try new recipes. I search online, watch the cooking channel, and even have a few cook books in which I pull ideas from.
· Pre-Plan Meals – Part of the trouble with cooking is that you have no idea what to make. Everyone has different tastes and suggestions on what they will and won’t eat, and trying to accommodate all of those needs can often be challenging. So I decided it was a good idea to pre-plan the meals. By making a weekly meal plan, I know exactly what’s being prepared for the night without having to think too much. Also, prepping on the weekends (cutting up veggies, seasoning meats, etc) can be a great way to cut down on some of the prep time during the week.
· Eat in Different Locations – Sometimes sitting at the dining room table can be a bit boring. So instead of eating at the kitchen or dining room table, switch things up a bit. Eat in the family room with TV trays while you watch your favorite show, eat on the deck in your backyard, or even travel to a nearby park and have a picnic.
2. Watching Television
Another favorite family pastime is sitting in front of the big screen TV and catching up on the weekly shows, or even just watching a family movie together. While family movie night is a great way to save money and still spend time with your family, it can also be costly – if you’re a cable television subscriber. While I have nothing against cable itself, the costs of a bundled package easily ran my family upwards of $200 a month. The good thing is that you can cut the cable and still watch your favorite shows and movies with these affordable alternatives:
· Satellite Television – If you’ve seen one satellite television commercial you’ve seen them all. While you might be wondering how on earth a satellite provider can offer you the same amount of channels as your cable company for a fraction of the cost, the advertisements are definitely true. http://satellitetv-deals.com/directv-internet.html has a list of various options for satellite subscriptions that even include bundling options (phone, internet) for less than $100/mo.
· Streaming Services – If you really want to get rid of the costly monthly expenses another option would be to consider streaming services. There are various providers that will allow you to stream television shows, movies, and more for less than $20/mo.
3. Things to Do for the Weekend
During the spring and summer months, my family and I can get pretty board in the house watching television. We like to get out and explore the great world around us. On the weekends we might partake in things like visiting local museums or amusement parks just to have a little fun. The only problem is this can get costly to keep up every weekend. So I got a few pointers from some friends of mine on how to handle it.
· Check Your State Site – there are a lot of free and affordable activities you can partake in right in your own backyard (not literally) – you just have to search for them. Frequently checking your state website will let you know about cool things to do for free or dirt cheap.
· Social Media – A lot of parks, museums, and other organizations host events during the warmer months, however, you’d never know if you don’t search for it. Liking pages of local companies and organizations can keep you abreast of what’s going on for the weekend in your town.
I’ll be the first to admit that entertaining kids is not only challenging at times but costly. However, if you just take a few of the above mentioned suggestions and apply them to your summer routine, you will find that you save a great deal of money this year. Finding affordable alternatives doesn’t have to mean that you sacrifice the fun, it simply means that you’re having fun without having the added stress of wondering how you’re going to afford it.