Monday, August 8, 2016

End of Summer fun that won't break the budget

Who would have thought August could be such an expensive month?!  Besides the fact that August is when we take our family vacation (school doesn't start until after Labor day in my part of NY), it is also my month of back to school shopping bankruptcy.  After spending a small fortune on school supplies (why do these supply lists keep getting bigger and bigger??) and forking over large sums of cash (or credit) to the Childrens Place and Old Navy for school clothes, I'm just about tapped out.  So how is one to have fun (on a budget) with their kiddos during these last few weeks of summer?  Check out my ideas below!

1.  Backyard OR indoor camping - Set up a tent in your backyard or living room.  Cook up a real camp dinner (hot dogs on a stick and baked beans??).  Have a bonfire (outside only please).  Make 'Smores (they're just as tasty cooked in the oven!).  Grab a flashlight and tell scary stories.  Take bets on which kid gets spooked first and sneaks into their bed.

2.  Hit the pool.  Once upon a time we had a pool.  But then we moved and now we don't.  However, our community has a very nice town pool.  It's clean, quiet, close by, and cheap ($1 for kids and $2 for adults- you can't beat that)!  If you don't have your own pool, find out if there is a community pool nearby.  Pack a lunch and some snacks and make a day of it.

3.  Hit the playground.   A good playground will entertain your kids for hours (well, at least ONE hour) and again, pack a lunch and have a picnic!

4.  The Drive-In.  The movie theatre is expensive, especially when you are paying for 4 people and snacks!  Any time we take the kiddos to the movies, it makes a huge dent in our wallet.  A lower-cost option is the drive in.  Some drive-ins charge per car, and the ones that charge per person are still usually much cheaper than the theatre.  Plus the snacks are cheap (real cheap if you sneak in your own), and you don't have to do the booty shuffle in anyone's face when you need to hit the ladies room!

5.  Outdoor movie nights.  Continuing with the movie theme, lots of communities offer free outdoor movie nights during the summer.  Check your town's website and see what's happening!

6.  The library.  Check out your local library for free or low cost summer activities.  I, for one, was floored when I saw all the cool stuff our library had going on this summer.  And if you have little ones, story time is always a favorite!

7.  State Parks.  We have some gorgeous state parks here with lakes to swim, fish and boat in, hiking and biking trails, playgrounds and camping.  Our favorite park (see pics below) charges $7 per vehicle, which is pretty typical.  We bring our beach chairs and umbrella, sand toys, and a cooler with drinks and snacks (or lunch) and we are set for the day.

8.  Check out a local baseball team.  It's local, and it's a fraction of the cost of a major league game.  Plus, many ballparks have special days that kids get in free.  Grab a hot dog, a beer and some crackerjacks and enjoy!

9.  Outdoor family game night.  Kickball, dodgeball, badmittten, jump rope contest, relay races, slip and slide contest (who can slide the farthest)... whatever your heart desires!  Just do it outside and make it fun!  Then maybe a make your own sundae bar to end the night?

10.  Your county fair.  Admission is cheap (usually) and kids often get in free.  There is generally a day or two where you pay one price for unlimited rides.  A day at the fair can get expensive (food, rides, games) but if you plan accordingly, it doesn't have to break the budget.

What ideas do you have for some end of summer fun that won't break the budget?


  1. Great list! All of our drive-ins are closed now and that is a bummer. Unfortunately, our fair does break the bank! $40 to get in and then you have bracelets for rides that are $25 a piece and don't forget the fair food. Jealous of cheaper fairs and drive ins :(

  2. These are great tips! I visit the pool all the time in the summer. A backyard tent is a fun idea!

  3. Excellent ideas! As summer comes to a close, between vacations and eating out, a list of free activities is perfect. I love our local drive-in theater too. It's so much fun.

  4. Great Ideas! I wish we had a local drive-through! We go to the drive in when we go to Cape Cod.

  5. We have a ton of pool dates scheduled so we can take full advantage of our new swim skills before the Fall arrives and shuts down the pools.