The average American family spends over $5,000 a year on dining and entertainment, and that’s not even including holiday spend, which can take that cost into 5 figures for some families. It’s a big expense, and it’s one that you just can’t afford if you’re deep in debt. Luckily, there are ways that you can spend time with the family and ensure everyone has fun without blowing the budget.
1. Arrange a Family Game Night
You can’t beat a good board game or quiz to get the whole family going. It’s something that will make a lot of kids groan when it’s announced, but they’ll get into the swing of things before long and as soon as it ends they’ll be begging to do it again.
This is a great activity to do on a weekly basis. The trick is to choose a few small games that appeal to everyone’s taste, or to pick one game that will take a while to complete and will be loved by all. Monopoly usually ticks all of those boxes, but there are many classic games and modern games that fit the bill.
Here are some tips to ensure everyone gets onboard:
- Introduce a prize scheme with weekly and monthly awards
- Create a leaderboard and give it pride of place in the home
- Turn off phones and TVs to ensure full engagement
- Make sure younger kids are not handicapped
2. Have Some High Octane Fun
Board games and quizzes aren’t the only way to have some fun with the family. A family game night is all about being on the same level, whether that means playing computer games like Call of Duty with older kids or playing hide and seek with younger ones. Every adult enjoys acting a little childish every now and then, and this is a great way for the parents to let loose and for a family to bond.
It’s free, it’s fun, and brings everyone to the same level, which is when the bonding really takes place.
3. Create a Family Book Club
A great way to encourage your children to read is to read a book with them. If you all read the same book at the same time, setting the goal to have it finished by the end of the month, then you can discuss it at the end and even while you read. It can be something you all do when you have the time, something that isn’t rushed, but something that ensures you are literally on the same page.
If you stick with classics and mass market paperbacks that have been out for a few years, you can get very cheap copies for everyone. A library card is your friend here as well.
4. Make Something
One of the money saving tips we have mentioned a few times on this site is to make household essentials like soap, candles, detergent and even toothpaste yourself. This can save a lot of money, especially where detergent is concerned (and candles if you use a lot of them), but it can also be time consuming.
But you can make an activity out of it and get the best of both worlds. Kids love getting their hands dirty and making something from nothing, and once they see the results they will want to do it again and again. It is a great way to bond, to save money for the household and to get your kids away from their phones and computers, but it’s also a great way to teach them basic science.
You can do the same with baking, and cooking in general. But in this case it can get expensive, so you’ll have to get creative when it comes to ingredients.
5. Go for a Picnic
A picnic is a great alternative to eating out. Americans spend over $3,000 a year dining out, which is more than they spend on household food bills. This is also great way to make use of foods that would otherwise get thrown out, as the average household wastes a large percentage of the food that they buy.
Make chips out of those unused tortillas, dips out of those over ripe vegetables, juices out of those over-ripe fruits, and sandwiches out of leftover turkey, pork, chicken, and whatever else is available. A week’s worth of leftovers in addition to a few cans of basic foodstuffs and a loaf of bread can give you all you need for a massive picnic that is sure to fill your family up.
6. Visit National Parks and Museums
There are many national parks throughout the United States and the majority of these have free admission. It’s a similar story with museums, which tend to take donations, but don’t necessarily charge admission. If you plan your day carefully then you can head to a park in the morning to enjoy the sunshine, stop for a picnic around noon, and then finish the day with a visit to a museum followed by a return home to watch a film.
The only expense in all of that is the food for the picnic, and if you shop smartly as mentioned above, that won’t cost you much at all.
7. Learn a Skill Together
It’s much easier to learn a new skill or craft if you do it with someone else, and if that someone else is your family then you can all benefit by learning a new skill together. It can be a new language, a new craft, a new skill, or even a musical instrument. As long as it’s fun and it can involve all of you then it fits the bill and can make for a great weekly activity.
8. Arrange a Scavenger Hunt
Kids love scavenger hunts and as an adult you can have lots of fun arranging them. Think about it: how much fun do kids have at Easter when someone in the local area arranges an egg hunt and they all get involved? And why, when you consider how easy it is to arrange, how little it costs and how much they enjoy it, is this not something you do for the rest of the year?
The best hunts are progressive ones, where clues are left at each stage and the final hunt reveals a prize. The adults can have fun setting a challenge and seeing if their kids can pass it, and the kids will have the time of their life trying to match your intellect!