You don't need teenagers to visit your local high school

For Cheap Fun Return to School

by April Serock

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Living frugally doesn't have to mean sitting in your living room every night. You can experience lots of free or low-cost entertainment right in your neighborhood. How? Head back to high school. Even if you don't have teenagers in your house, high schools are meccas of sporting events, art showcases, cultural experiences, and even fun classes.

Secondary schools offer a myriad of athletics to their students and their games and exhibitions are open to the public. The cost is generally minimal or may even be free. A football game can be an excellent way to spend an exciting fall night. Basketball games break the monotony of long winter evenings, and for the price of admission to a wrestling tournament, you can get all-day entertainment. Softball and baseball games are fun under a sunny spring sky. You can also catch a soccer game or even watch JROTC students perform drills. As a bonus, booster organizations often sponsor concession stands with delicious food for very reasonable prices. (If you haven't tried a "walking taco" yet, you're missing out.)

Many public school athletic track facilities are also open to the public during designated off-school hours for walking or jogging. These tracks are safe and well-maintained, and some are even accessible during early morning and evening hours. Check with your local school district for availability and usage guidelines.

The fine arts departments of most high schools put on performances at various times of the year, especially around the winter holidays and again in the spring. Often these events are free or charge a very nominal admission fee. You might peruse sculpture and oil painting at an art show, listen to a choral or music concert, or catch a play or a musical. Students tend to practice hard and put on great shows. And after all, every great talent had to start somewhere. You might be watching a future rock star or red-carpet actor. High school productions are also a great way to introduce younger children to theater and live music. With the reasonable admission price, if your toddler has a meltdown before intermission, you'll feel less guilty if you have to cut the evening short.

You'll also find that lots of other cultural events are often sponsored by high schools. Some examples are homecoming parades complete with bands, floats and candy for the kids, holiday craft shows, and honor society inductions.

Or you could take a free class to gain new computer skills, learn how to navigate the maze of paperwork associated with applying for college financial aid, or tweak your parenting skills. Often schools even serve cookies and punch afterward. If you're looking to change careers or move up in your current one, you may be able to take low-cost classes in nursing, graphic design, or cooking to name a few, especially if your district operates a career institute or a technical school.

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All of these activities have the benefit of being close to home, so you'll save money on gas and parking is generally free. Plus, you'll connect with your local community, friends, and neighbors while having a great time in the process! To find out what's offered at your local high school, check the school's website or social media site. You can also contact the school for a list of athletic events and activities.

Take the Next Step:

  • Do a search for your town and "activity calendar" - you'll be surprised at the free activities you find!
  • High schools aren't the only resources for frugal fun. Colleges and universities have plenty to offer as well.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

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