Still going strong on day 24! We were able to take my mother in law out to a local Clydesdale ranch. It was really fun, and since we bought the tickets months ago it was free :). I can't believe this no-spend month is almost over!
One thing I am learning through this month of no spending is that even though we really don't spend a lot on things overall we usually don't feel badly about the sacrifice. Most of my friends call me their "thrifty friend" (I also answer to frugal and in the right context cheap). I love brainstorming with them about ways to save money and not feel deprived. I have decided to share a series of "top 10" lists of our frugal ways that usually don't make me cranky.
-When we decided that I would work from home with our kids, we knew that one of the areas that would really be cut would be our entertainment budget. I would sometimes get bummed out that we couldn't, or rather shouldn't, go out to eat or spend an evening shopping. I still think those things can be viewed as a treat and done in a frugal way on occasion. But when it isn't time for that, here are several things we really enjoy.
Entertainment in your Home/Hometown (With or Without Kids)
Go to the Library Check the calendar for events like concerts, classes, and crafts. At most libraries you can go online and check the massive catalog for books, DVDs, CDs and more.
Park and Picnic Our little town has several great parks with trails, playgrounds, disc golf, tennis, and even a splash pad. We also like to find parks along the way when we travel to picnic and play (saves money and waistline from fast food). We have found some excellent parks along the way.
Visit a College Colleges and Universities constantly have things to do that are free and very low cost - especially at smaller schools. Plays, concerts, art exhibits, sporting events, classes, and more can all be found on the school's websites. Not near a college? Try taking in a high school football game or choir concert with your kids.
Art Crawls Many towns have a specific night each month dedicated to art galleries being open late. These nights are usually family friendly, and sometimes have live music and hor d'ourves.
Date Night In After we put the kids to bed, we like to watch a movie, play a board game or simply work on a project together. The mundane can be magnificent with the attitude adjustment of "We are doing it together - yeah!"
Date Night Out Childcare Hiring a sitter can be expensive. Finding friends who would watch your kids for you if you watch theirs is a great way to avoid that. There are even babysitting co-ops in some areas.
Think like a College Student Remember when you were in college and really had no money? No real bills, or real responsibilities either in most cases. Back then you would have fun on a "date" sitting in a stairwell playing guitar. Build on that idea. Go for a walk and get ice cream. Play a game of tennis, pool, or anything that you might not be the best at. Jump in rain puddles together. Have each other try on outfits of the other's choice at the mall. Simpler worked back then and it can still be fun now.
Go Online I have been know to google "Free things to do in (insert city)" both here and when preparing for a trip. Festivals and fairs, Concerts, Exhibits, and more can be found by doing this. Our chamber of commerce has a calendar on their website full of upcoming events. There are also great websites like Macaroni Kid , HulaFrog, and Free Attractions who will do the legwork for you.
Get Cooking Find a new recipe or one from your favorite restaurant to copy. The cost difference will surprise you and usually it will have less fat/salt/sugar than the dining-out version. Pick a country and choose several dishes to make from it. Like a delicious Irish stew with soda bread and salad. Or, see what is in your pantry and freezer with no purchased ingredients.
Think Creative Work on a new garden bed together, do a craft, teach the kids a new game. Invite the neighbors over to roast marshmallows in the fire pit. Have dinner by candlelight. DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. My kid, and husband think its hilarious fun to roll two old tires down the hill and see which one gets to the bottom first. That is definitely different and completely free.