As the mother of three boys – 15, 11, and 3 – seeking financial independence, having frugal fun as a family is a must. Here’s a list of my favorite stories, tips and tricks for having a good time without breaking the bank.
Family Frugal Fun – A Key To Financial Independence
It Is Not A Box
Kids should use their imaginations. They don’t need stuff. Adventures with Not A Box – the book and the box – are important ones for kids. Whether the box is an airplane, a spaceship, a fire truck, or something else entirely, playing with boxes (or other such items) helps develop imagination and creativity.
Build and Grow and Kids Workshops
Free Weekend Fun – Although the Lowes Build and Grow is sadly no more (it ended after I wrote the article), the Home Depot Kids Workshops are still going strong. My three boys all love building, decorating, and painting their own projects!
Free Weekend Festival Fun – Hot Air Balloon Festival Edition
Fun things don’t have to cost money. Every year we go to a local hot air balloon festival, pack some coffee and homemade food, and watch the balloons take off. Others we see around the park are buying food, bringing coffee from Dunkin, and generally making it more expensive than it needs to be. Finding free fun to have as a family is one of the keys to financial independence.
Chopped Championship – Free Weekend Fun
Are the kids complaining they’re “bored” on the weekend – but going out and blowing money just isn’t in the budget? Use what you have in the fridge, pantry and freezer to host an epic chopped championship. You can do the kids or adult edition! It’s a great way to use food you already have around, get the kids excited about dinner, and generally have free fun on the weekend. If it were up to my kids, we’d do this every day!
Boy Scouts – The Real Financial Story
Come find out more about what it costs to be a scout, and the money lessons your kids can learn. They have entire merit badges all about personal finance!
Camping – The Ultimate Frugal Vacation
Every year our family of five goes camping. Not glamping – camping out in a tent in a campground. Yes, all five of us camp outdoors. Is it the ultimate frugal family vacation? Heck yes! Tent camping can be inexpensive to start, fun for the kids, and helps teach some great money lessons.
Make Your Own Board Game
My creative older boys have made several board games over the years. Check out how they made their latest version using toys from around the house as game pieces – complete with Nintendo themed fake money! This is a great way for kids to use things they already have around the house, plus a poster board, to make their own game for hours of fun. Bonus, you can go right back to using the toys once they’re “bored”!
Minecraft TNT Birthday Cake
Ever since my oldest son was born 15 years ago, I’ve been making homemade birthday cakes. At first it was out of necessity because of food allergies (egg, dairy, nuts) – but now it’s a fun hobby. For the cost of a cake from Costco or BJ’s, you can instead have an epic cake that would cost over $100 if you were to buy it.
Epic (Frugal) Road Trips!
We take a road trip with the three boys every year. Check out how we nurture their passions and teach them financial lessons while on the road. We also get them involved in planning the road trip, using the internet and the library to help them learn, have fun, and get excited about the trip.
Frugal Fun Fail
We ended up being forced to eat our lunches away from the group, just because we didn’t pay the “group” price!
An $11 Weekend: Free + Groupons = Frugal Fun
Having fun, even in an expensive state, doesn’t need to break the bank.
Fun and Frugal Kids Birthday Parties!
It’s easy to break the bank and have a party, but with a bit of creativity you can have a fun time on the cheap.
Cell Phones – My Kids Don’t Have Them
It surprises people that I have a teenager and a tweenager, and they don’t have their own cell phones. It seems that somehow, smartphones became a “necessity” for very young kids. My oldest son has even encountered times in high school where the teachers assume everyone has a smartphone!
Cutting Cable When You Have Kids
People often use their kids as an excuse for why they can’t cut cable. With the streaming options available today, there’s really no excuse to not cut the cord. Back when I first wrote this article, we had been cable free for seven years – and today it’s closer to ten. Read about what it’s like to be cable-free with kids.
Financial Lessons from School Book Fairs
I don’t know about you, but I find school book fairs to be extremely expensive. Not only do they put tons of pressure on kids to buy, buy, buy, but all the books are sold for full price. No sales, discounts, or coupons here!
Back to School – On The Cheap
Your kids might not need new clothes if their old ones are still good quality.
And if you save your school supplies from year to year, there may not be much new to buy.
Making The Ordinary A Bit Extraordinary
An important part of leading a frugal family life is using creativity to make ordinary, every day events just a little more special. A homemade lunch becomes a fun picnic in the park – or a box becomes a spaceship. You too can use creativity to make what would otherwise be ordinary a bit more special.
Secondhand Kids are the Best Kids
As the mother of three I can definitively say that very little of the “new” stuff sold for kids is worth it. We get almost everything secondhand, particularly when the kids are little. From clothes to toys to electronics, most other kids tire of their things before they outgrow them (or wear them out).
Not only is it better for my wallet, but it’s also better for the environment. Plus the same amount of money will get much better quality things! Check out here all about secondhand shopping and kids.
If you haven’t already, be sure to swing by my comprehensive Kids and Money page. Don’t see an article or resource you’re looking for? Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org to recommend future articles or request resources.
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