School breaks, weekends, and evenings offer a fantastic chance to bond as a family. You can spend time together, have some fun, and maybe even learn something together! Family activities don't have to be purely entertainment, either. They present a valuable opportunity to teach kids important skills without making it seem like a big chore.

If you're looking for ways to save money, stretch the family budget, and have a good time, check out these ten money-saving tips for families! You're sure to find something to keep everyone busy.

Meal Planning

We're starting more on the "educational" side of things, but meal planning can be a lot of fun. It gives you the chance to get the whole family involved in the food they eat. If you have kids at home, research shows that involving kids in the cooking process urges them to make healthier choices. Meal planning is a big part of that, as you can decide the weekly menu together, go grocery shopping, and cook as a family.

When you plan meals together, it's a great opportunity to teach kids about saving money and setting a spending budget for groceries, too. It's possible even with younger kids, as long as they're old enough to know their numbers! It's never too early to start financial education, especially if you find a way to make it interesting.

Head to the Local Library

Many people underestimate the library. If you're envisioning it as a place of dusty books and silence, you've got it all wrong! While quiet is expected, libraries have so much going on. There are plenty of books, which are a great way to keep everyone entertained, but you'll find more than shelves and shelves of novels. You can check out movies, music, audiobooks, and more. Most carry options like comic books and graphic novels, too. In short, you can find just about anything at the library.

They're often a hub for finding other free entertainment options in your local community, as people post fliers and leave information about different goings-on. Your library may host special events like children's nights with different activities and story times. You won't know what's out there unless you visit.

Check Out Local Parks

Like the library, your local park probably has a lot more going on than you've realized. You'll find playground equipment for the kids, of course, but many parks also offer things like fishing areas, scenic hikes or walks, grilling and picnic areas, bike riding, and other activity spaces. You can easily pass a whole day at the park without spending money at all! If your monthly expenses leave you without extra money, that's okay. Just pack up lunch from home and get some sunshine.

Have Fun at Thrift Stores

Sometimes you just need a day out to do a little shopping. It's possible even if things in your check or savings account are a bit tight.

To turn it into a family activity, gather everyone up head out to the thrift store, and make a game of it! Give everyone a few dollars and set a goal. For example, everyone has to find a blue item within their budget, or everyone must find an item with a bird on it. Thrift stores and discount stores often have things half the price (or less) compared to stores, so you can have a good time without spending more money. Like planning meals, it teaches kids about personal finance and planning what they spend while still making memories and being a little silly.

Find Trials for Subscription Services

If your budget doesn't leave room for monthly subscription services but you still need to keep everyone entertained on a rainy day, look around for free trials. You'll be able to sample all sorts of different services and watch shows and movies you've been waiting to see, without paying a cent. Trials typically last anywhere from a few days to a whole month, and you won't be charged as long as you cancel before the trial is up. By choosing one free trial at a time, you can fill up months!

Try Gardening

You can start gardening for a few dollars and a bit of hard work. All you need to get started is a pack of seeds, though other supplies like potting soil, containers, and a spade will make things easier. Everyone in the family can pitch in with planting, watering, and care, too. If you successfully grow veggies or fruits, you can even cut down on the grocery bill.

Gardening is another learning opportunity for kids, too. They'll see the life cycle of a plant in real-time and discover what they need to grow. Few things are quite as satisfying as seeing a plant you've grown from seed.

Take Up a Hobby Together

Choosing a low-cost hobby as a family strengthens bonds and gives everyone a chance to learn a new skill. Even if no one sticks with it long-term, the learning process is fun and makes memories. For example, everyone may decide to take up painting for a month. You can buy a set of cheap acrylic paint, a pack of canvases, or a drawing pad, and set aside an hour on the weekends for the activity! Everyone has something to show for it, even if it doesn't produce the next Picasso.

Play Board Games

Dropping a few bucks on a board game offers hours of entertainment and you'll be able to hang onto it for years! They stave off boredom and give everyone something to do on the days when playing outside isn't an option or nights when the budget doesn't allow for going out. You can typically find board games at second-hand stores or at discount, too, so you won't need to spend much to have a great board game night at home.

Take a Hike

Even if you're not an "outdoorsy" family, hikes are still a great way to get some fresh air without spending money. It doesn't have to be anything strenuous, either. Head out to a walking trail for something easy or challenge each other on a more difficult hike. You'll experience the beauty of nature together and hit your bed for a good night's rest afterward!

If you are a family of nature lovers, turn your hike into a night of camping. Pack up a cooler with food from the fridge, roll up some sleeping bags and a tent, and spend a night outside under the stars.


Look for ways to volunteer in your community as a family. Serve food at a soup kitchen, work with community clean-up groups, or just ask around to see if any neighbors could use some help. It feels good to give back, and your kids will learn the value of helping others in need. Check online to find local volunteer opportunities and decide as a family where you'd like to help.

Final Thoughts

Raising a family is expensive, but there are plenty of activities and opportunities to spend time (not money) together. The ten suggestions above are wonderful places to start and may help you form life-long traditions.

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