Use the library. You can take out books, music, DVD's and they often offer other entertainment. Go to the park if you have one near. Play cards with another couple. Refreshments can be simple, cookies, cake, coffee or pretzels and soft drinks.
Go for a bike ride! We have bike paths in Vermont that are fun, clean and safe. No need to worry about cars and it is free. My mom used to bring me when we were young and we would stop for picnics or playgrounds along the way. As I got older I would rollerblade with friends and pick blackberries along the way. Who says you can't have fun and burn calories?
You could also "climb a mountain", not the rope climbing kind, the walk along a hilly/steep path kind. All states should have these free, or sometimes a couple dollars.
State parks are fun too! when I lived in the southwest, there were all kinds of parks to go to. My brother and I would fill out these "tests" about the park and then we got junior badges. That was so fun! I'm not sure if they still give the badges...it was ten years ago.
I like the library idea, we did that too. You can also find movies cheap on clearance or at yard sales. Used video games can be purchased for under 10.00 if you look in the right places. Or even ebay, I have bought movies for 5.00 or less, that's shipped to the door(shipping+sale price= less than 5.00)
Growing up we found ways to have fun on the cheap. And those memories are much more appreciated than the time I went to Six Flags. Family time is so hard to find in the blur of this multitasking technological world. Best to you and yours everyone!
To save money on snacks at the movies: before taking kids to the movies, feed them so they can't say they are hungry. Make microwave popcorn and let them eat it in the car on the way. Have cold juice boxes and a candy bar in your purse for them at the movies and/or tell them homemade cookies and hot chocolate are waiting at home.
You can have a great time at business grand opening celebrations and home builders also have weekend days where they invite you to see their models and offer fun and free food. Read the paper and keep your eyes peeled for those things happening in your community. Most are free or very cheap to go to and the kids have a ball.
Here in CA, Safeway stores have new movies for $1.49 a night plus tax ($1.61) and on Mondays for $.99. Not ALL new releases but most, great deal! You can keep for a day (up until 11:59 the next day, no matter what time you buy) or if you keep longer it's $.99 a day after.
Read a book to each other! Make a book. READ, it's the best!
In our local grocery stores (Harris Teeter, BI_LO ) they have a video machine. For $1.49, you can rent a video for one night and if you choose to keep additional nights, it's only $.99 for each day. Grab a 2 litre drink and some micro popcorn and, for less than $6.00, you can have movie night at home. Also be sure to add your email address when the machine prompts, they will email you "rent one, get one free" codes. I love it.
Cards, board games, drives (not inexpensive any more). If you live in a large city, art galleries have showings. Get on the mailing lists online. Check out free lectures listed in your local paper at local colleges, societies, hospitals, etc.
By the Oracle
Learn to play bridge. Gather three other friends and you'll love it. It's free. (except for the snacks!)
Here's a few we use all the time. Check out the newspaper on Sunday, there is usually a page full of club and city activities that anyone is welcome to for no charge. Sign up for the mailing list of local colleges, I've gone to free concerts, plays, musicals. Your local park district has a lot going on too. Ours has nature walks during the day and evening, garden shows, history reenactments, maple sugaring in the spring, haunted trails in the fall. Our city has a vintage car show every week and a weekly concert in the park. All this is found in the newspaper.
Go to your local library to check out VCR movies and DVD's. They also have books on tape, have the family listen to a chapter a day "together", talk over what they think the outcome will be and whoever is closest to the outcome gets to be or do whatever they want for a day.
My kids loved the competition of listening and then remembering what they heard. I believe it helped them become better rounded adults.
By Paula, Mebane, NC
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