family eating popcornBy Michelle LaRowe –

Movie tickets for three:  $21. Winter Break Camp:   $600. Pizza and pop for a family of four: $40 plus. If you’re not cautious, entertaining kids can break the bank, or certainly put a huge dent in it. When it comes time to trade work for fun, try these ideas. You’ll save money but not at the cost of a good time for one and all.

  • Sending children to after school activities and summer and school vacation camps can be a huge financial stressor for many of today’s families. Your local YMCA may offer reduced tuition and scholarships for income eligible families. Many camps also offer scholarships or reduced tuitions based on financial need. Community centers and churches often host free vacation bible schools and vacation camps open to the general public.
  • Take advantage of early bird specials. From eating dinner at a restaurant to attending a matinee performance, you can save a bit of money by beating the clock. Many children’s programs and activities have “early bird” registration providing savings for those who are quick to reserve their slot.
  • Buy One, Get One. Look out for specials at your favorite restaurant and other venues. I know families who will only go to Friendly’s on Wednesday nights- when kids eat free or for a reduced price.
  • BYOB, Lots of fast food places offer deals on $1.00 meals, but they make their money back on the drink sales!  Beat the system by stocking up on bottled water, juices, teas or soft drinks at bargain prices,  then grab a few them before you go to the drive-through.  Or, train your kids to enjoy the pure, clean taste of water (free if you ask for it in a cup) and save soft drinks for very special treats.  You’ll save on eating out and dental bills!
  • Have good old fashioned fun. Pop some popcorn and make your own family fun. Game nights; make your own sundae parties and arts and crafts night can provide fun for the entire family at little or no cost.

Having fun doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Your local parenting publication, mom’s group or community website may advertise specials you otherwise wouldn’t know of. Utilize all your resources and be on the lookout for ways to maximize fun and minimize spending.

Adapted in part from Working Mom’s 411. Regal Books. 2009.

 

 

 

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