10 Ways to Have Big Fun on a Small Budget: The first 5 Ways


How Families can Still Let Loose on a Tight Budget! The First 5 Ways

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman


Downturned Economy. Family budget. Excess spending. We’re getting an earful these days.  The economy is spiraling down while costs are rising up.  Parents are tightening their belts, staying close to home, and clamping down on extra spending. But does that mean that we have to hang up our fun clothes and wait for time to pass?  No way!


Yes, we all know about the old inexpensive pastimes.  Read a book. Ride your bike. Go to the park.  But it’s clear that families are looking for more variety these days.  They don’t mind passing on costly vacations if they can still have a good time close to home. A parent contacted me through our parenting blog the other day and said, “Dr. Robyn, we’re all ‘parked out!’ What else can we do that doesn’t cost a lot of money but is still loads of fun?”


Here are the first 5 ways to have big fun on a small budget:

  halloween child costume lion

1.  Throw a costume party: Why do all costumes have to go back in the closet after Halloween?  Invite your favorite families from around the neighborhood and ask them to dress up.  Make it thematic!  Be your favorite character from a book!  Come as your favorite sports star!  Have an “out of this world party” where everyone dresses up as a creature that only exists in their imagination!  To keep costs down, make it a potluck and ask every family to bring a yummy dish and their favorite game.


2.  Have an inside picnic: Make fried chicken and all the fix’ns, if you’d like!  Spread out the blanket, play games, and let your imagination go wild.  Sometimes simply doing something ordinary, like having a meal together, in a different way, can make the time spent extra fun and enjoyable for everyone.

3.  Tap into the library, Y, after-school programs or community center: You might be surprised by the great programs, discounted events, and free passes that your local library, community center, family-friendly after-school program or Y provides. Children’s activities such as “story time,” “drama fun,” and invited children’s speakers or singers are a great way to enjoy free or low-cost entertainment.  Often, the local Y will offer free swim, family nights, and sporting events. Library passes to the science center, children’s museums, zoos, and aquariums are also great bets for fun times! After-school programs often offer free introductory lessons, low cost parents’ night out, and free or low cost community-serving classes (i.e. self defence, stranger danger). And who can forget the terrific and low cost theater productions put on by your local thespians!?!


4.  Write a story together: Get the children together and write a story!  You can base it on an event that happened in your family or something that simply comes from your family’s imagination. Allow your children to illustrate the story and put the book together.  You can even give out copies for grandma’s birthday or for the holidays one year.

parents cooking with children

5.  Teach your children how to cook: One of the most practical skills I learned from my mom and grandmother is how to cook.  Often, time is short and schedules are packed. Spending time teaching this skill may not always seem possible– you just want to get it done, get everyone fed, and relax, right?  However, cooking together is a fun thing to do and eventually, a little help in the kitchen can save you time and money!  Besides that, it’s a skill that connects family members, has implications rooted in family history, and allows your family to pass on their legacy to the next generation through food.  Get creative!  How about some leftover garbage soup?!? Of course, you can venture outside of your own traditional foods and experiment with making cuisine from different cultures!


Please share your favorite low-cost ideas below!  And tune in tomorrow for 5 more great budget-friendly options!


Dr. Robyn Silverman signs


3 Responses

  1. We like to do family devotions, go on walks, geocache. Geocaching takes an initial investment of a GPS receiver, but if people don’t want to make that investment they can do letterboxing–geocaching’s older and cheaper counterpart.

  2. Thanks, Vicki! I must be behind the times– this is the first I’m hearing about geocaching— always open to learning something new! Sounds a bit like a scavenger hunt– which is in my tips for tomorrow– but definitely more updated!

    For those of you who are also in the dark:
    Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure. A geocacher can place a geocache in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache’s existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS unit can then try to locate the geocache.

    Dr. Robyn

  3. […] stops during a long drive can reduce stress and provide excitement.  It doesn’t have to break the budget– just give everyone a break! Are you passing an old friend’s town? A national monument? A […]

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