Saving Money on Family Fun Days

by Shelly Burke


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Summer Entertainment

Summer Fun Without the Price

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Summer time is prime family time. We all look forward to spending time together, doing new things, or visiting our favorite animals at the zoo. Family activities range in price from free to very expensive, but even if your finances are tight (whose aren't?), it's easy to economize. Try these budget-conscious hints:

Be creative in coming up with free activities. Spend the day at a park. Ride bikes along a trail. Explore a new area of your town. Go to the county fair or farmer's market.

Many events are cheaper at certain times of the day or certain days of the week. Matinee movies are a prime example; either use the money you've saved for another activity or use it to treat yourselves to popcorn!

Be on the lookout for coupons in the newspaper, online, or on flyers. If a grocery store is sponsoring an event, they may offer a price reduction (ask at the service desk). Some coupons offer half-price or two-for-one admission. If you frequently visit a zoo or museum, consider purchasing a family season pass. The one-time cost will probably be less than the cost of multiple admissions.

Sometimes a seemingly steep ticket price isn't so bad when you calculate the hours of fun it provides. Tickets for a day at the zoo might cost $25 for your whole family, but if you spend all day, that's less than $1 per hour per person. Skip the concession stand! Make sure you all eat before you leave. Many times you can bring a cooler into an amusement park or at least stick a few granola bars or some dried fruit in your purse. If you spend all day, you'll probably have to spring for a meal at some time, but by bringing some of your own food, you'll minimize the overpriced food you have to buy.

Avoid the gift shop! Remember the trip with photos or free maps and fliers. If the kids absolutely insist, give them an amount of money that your budget allows, or make them use their own money to purchase any souvenirs. They'll be much pickier when it's their own money they are spending!

Be prepared. After a spilled soda necessitated the purchase of an overpriced logo t-shirt and pair of shorts for her two-year old, Becky decided to have a complete change of clothes for every child in her van. Film, over-the-counter pain relievers, and personal care items can be extremely expensive at tourist attractions. Carefully consider everything you might need during your trip.

Family activities don't have to be budget busters. Make many memories this summer!


Shelly Burke, RN, is the author of Home is Where the Mom Is. Home is Where the Mom Is is the most comprehensive resource for all moms, especially at-home moms. The above article is an excerpt from Home is Where the Mom Is. Shelly believes moms need to care for themselves, first, so they can better care for those around them. Shelly's next book, What Should I Say? is also available.

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