How to save money and still have a good time.
First thing first – keep track of what you spend and stick to your budget. Then once you are out you can stop worrying about money and just have fun.
Borrow books and DVD’s from the library or friends.
Many libraries have an excellent collection of books, DVDs, CDs and magazines for loan. Some libraries even allow you to reserve a popular item such as a newly available movie or TV series, at no cost, or at minimal cost.
I find that buying magazines is a huge waste of money, especially when they are usually full of ads and we read through them so quickly. My local library has an excellent section of magazines to borrow, or even have a casual seat in the library to enjoy a quiet read.
The selection of eBooks is on the increase and these can be borrowed from the comfort of your own home, at no expense any time of day. Why would you buy a book, magazine or DVD again?
If your local library isn’t the best, or if you prefer to buy, you can always start a book or DVD club with your friends to share books and DVDs and socialise as well.
Don’t waste money of drinks
Drink tap water instead of soft drinks when eating out.
Take a bottle of water with you when going out for the morning or are going shopping so that you don’t feel the need to stop and buy something to drink because you’re parched. This could help you stay ahead of your health goals too.
Another healthy and great way to save money is to simply drink tap water when going to a restaurant. Drinks can be very expensive at restaurants, but if your family like a soft drink with a meal out, perhaps offer a soft drink a home instead, say as a Sunday dinner treat. Often when we make something a treat we enjoy it more, especially if it is something that we shouldn’t really be consuming a lot of.
Alternate your beer or wine with a glass of water.
If you are going out for a few drinks, alternate your beer or wine with a glass of water, it’ll save you a few dollars and do your liver some good while also decreasing the risk of a hangover the next morning.
3. Cut down on meals out
Our busy lives mean that we eat out a lot more than we did a generation ago. All those years ago eating out was for special occasions, something that was memorable, people even dressed up to go out for a meal. Now we eat out, usually the kids are fixated on their phones or playing on their mobile consoles. We eat then go home, that sense of family and meal time sharing seems to have evaporated. So let’s bring back the sense of occasion, and I’m not saying we have to dress to the nines, but why not make it an occasional event, where the family shares a meal and engages with one another. Let’s make it a source of entertainment.
Also when eating out, revert to the traditional family meal equation, and by this I mean that we should share a meal. These days portion sizes are often so large, why not eat like a family as you would at home by ordering a large pizza and salad for the family to share rather than a pizza (or whatever else it is you may be eating) each. Otherwise most of the food will be wasted and you’re paying for food that you can’t eat, or you’ll over eat.
Movies on the cheap.
Kids love going to the movies, but for two hours of entertainment it can get pricey. If you are going to see a movie, go on a cheapy Tuesday. A healthy relationship and respect for money is a worthwhile lesson for your kids.
Most cinemas have Movie club discount, where chosen movies are cheaper, any day of the week for its members. This usually involves movies that are about to go off circuit. While kids want to see the latest movies as soon as they come out, an exercise in patience never hurt anyone, and they will come to appreciate it more when it doesn’t come to them so easily. Movie clubs also reward you by offering discounted tickets after you have seen a certain number of movies.
Some Phone Companies also offer a rewards program where you can purchase $10 movie tickets. Perhaps check if your mobile or phone provider offers you these rewards
Bring your own snacks, movie house popcorn and coke is notoriously expensive, and usually way too large. Bringing your own, gives you greater choices and you can add as much variety and healthy food as you like. Somehow we’ve been programmed to want popcorn and a soft drink when we see a movie at the cinema, and I certainly don’t eat like that when I’m watching a movie at home. Make your own choices if snacking is right for you.
Try Living Social and Groupon for new entertainment ideas at a discount.
You never know, you may discover something new that you love that you’ve never thought to try before, such as painting evenings, flight simulators, rock climbing. These sites also offer discount meal vouchers for the family dinner out.
6. Go to your local Community or Neighbourhood Centre
These centres have lots of low price entertaining and learning opportunities, such as art classes, mosaics and so on. I’ve made some wonderful friends through these courses.
7. Check out the “What’s On” websites in your city
Many large cities offer free entertainment put on by the city, especially in school holidays. There are free comedy festival shows, outdoor movies, fitness classes, dancing, kids art activities. The good thing is that they offer entertainment for kids and adults. There also tends to be a lot of street performers out during these times, so you can have a lovely day out taking a stroll through the streets and laneways of your city, watch some street performers and then have a picnic in the park or alongside the river. Often times you can specifically search for free activities.
Check out Weekendnotes.com
This site offers up some great ideas for what to do, and reviews of what is currently going on. It’s written by regular users of the site who have tried out the events that they suggest. They also allow you to filter for free events, or may have articles on what to do on a budget this season.
9. Join a Meet up Group
For your hobbies, there are many Meet Groups that provide free or low cost socialising ideas, such as hiking, writing, gardening, dancing, pretty much anything you can think of. And if there isn’t already a group out there that you might be interested in, you can always start your own. Give it a try, you may make some new friends along the way.
10 Entertain at home rather than going out
You can invite friends over for coffee, book group, bring a plate dinners, and it doesn’t have to be a big event. You can each take turns hosting, and may even have themed evenings, the possibilities are endless.
There are loads of free or low price entertainment ideas for the family
Keep a list on your phone for when the family is bored and you’re low on ideas, you can organise the ideas by the weather, or however you like. You can even write the ideas on separate pieces of paper, put them in a jar and pull one out at random, and that’s what the family will do – no arguments and no debates, and everyone is welcome to put in as many ideas as they like, subject to a few provisos regarding what types of activities are acceptable. Here are a few to get you started:
- Picnic in your local park, at a river or beach;
- ‘Tobogganing’ down the hills at the park;
- Set a treasure hunt in your park of neighbourhood for you kids to find a treasure;
- Ball games in the park;
- Forest walks, bush walks and hiking;
- Bird watching;
- A day at the beach, bring your own frozen water or drinks and delicious cut up fruits;
- Games night, such a Pictionary or Taboo, which can always get the family laughing. You don’t even need to buy the board game, there are free Apps available on your phone;
- Movie nights in, make some popcorn, bundle up in some blankets. If you can borrow a projector you could even make an outdoor cinema evening;
- Camping in your own back yard;
- Sitting around the camp fire in your own back yard, roasting marshmallows and s’mores;
- Art time at the city gallery. If your kids like to draw why not get their paper and pencils and head off to the State gallery or other free art gallery and let the kids be inspired by the art work.
12.Let your phone do the Work
There are a few good Apps that offer up some ideas of what you can do. Just put in your preferences, choose a date and then search. You can filter for free activities. Some suggested Apps are ‘Nearify’ and ‘Fun Finder’.
What are some of the things that you do for fun without breaking the bank? Tell us in the comments section below.
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