By Danielle, Contributing Writer
We need inexpensive entertainment options! Americans are busier than ever these days. No matter if you’re working the average 8.7 hours a day, homeschooling, managing the home, running errands or attending extracurricular activities, families need quality time. The challenge is not only in balancing work and fun, but also balancing the budget.
It can be easy to over spend for the sake of “quality time.” In fact, the average American spends $2,504 on entertainment according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overpriced tickets, high admission rates and travel costs make it easy to bust the budget in the name of having fun.
Most couples are opposites when it comes to spending. One is the spender, the other is the saver. There are varying degrees of this but usually the spender shows love through things, “gifts.” The saver often shows loves through quality time. In order to balance these you need to budget for larger items and also realize that inexpensive entertainment options provide for quality family time, bonding and building memories.
My husband is a spender and a giver. He shows his appreciation and love by giving gifts and experiences others enjoy. We balance bigger experiences with inexpensive entertainment options so we can have fun and stay in budget. As the saver, I tend to see that quality time doing low cost activities builds relationships which is important.
Image by 5demeyo
Here are some inexpensive entertainment options for your family to enjoy:
1. Camping Alternates
A weekend camping trip can average $380. Surely that is cheaper than a week at Disney but when you’re working on other financial goals you might need a camping alternative. Try camping in your backyard. You can still have the whole experience—s’mores, campfire, sleeping bags and all—for a fraction of the cost. When I was in high school my friend would have “camp-overs.” We’d stay in her parent’s camper in their driveway, make hot dogs over the fire and stay up really late. If this isn’t an option, you can always have a living room camp-over. Blow up the air mattress, grab some flashlights, put in a movie and sleep in the living room. Your kids will love it.
2. Zoos and Nature Centers
Zoos can provide entertainment for couples and families. Most are either free or reasonably priced and some will allow you to carry in food. If not, pack a lunch and eat in the car. We’ve done this at several local day trip attractions to reduce cost. Check your county and local state parks for nature centers. We have several nature centers in our area that are free to the public.
3. Game Night
Extremely cost effective, or even free, board games are a great source of entertainment for groups of friends and families with children. We like to incorporate fun and learning with games and most holidays you’ll find us playing cards or fun games like ImagineIf.
4. Get Out and Move
Swimming, walking or hiking can be great family fun. Visit the community pool, local lake or state park to get some exercise and enjoy nature. Be sure it take the camera along on walks and hikes. This is also a great way to combine learning and fun.
Image from pixabay.com
5. Eat Out Picnic Style
Going out to eat is nice treat and sometimes a necessity. But eating out for sheer entertainment can be costly. In 2010, the average consumer spent $2,505 eating away from home. To save a substantial amount of money, try packing a picnic instead. Not only will you pay less than you would at a restaurant for your meal, but you’ll enjoy the change of pace and spending time with friends and family.
6. Give Back & Volunteer
Helping the least of these is another way to build character in your children, teach life lessons and have family time together. Talk to your older kids about where they may want to help and you’re likely to find that the time together giving back is more rewarding that any baseball game or concert.
Saving money on entertainment takes a little forethought and a bit of creativity but inexpensive entertainment options are all around you. See past the glamour and glitz of big ticket outings and you’ll find low cost ways to build relationships and make memories.