Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer Fun on a BUDGET

Summertime is my favorite time of year.
I love the warm weather.
I love being outside all of the time.
I love the possibilities!
I get the comment all the time that I "do a lot of stuff" with my kids.
I didn't know that was unusual.
We do "do a lot of stuff" but we certainly don't have money to blow.
So, we have to be careful with what we decide to do.
I take some time to figure out what there is to do, and we plan ahead.

So, here are some suggestions for how to have tons of fun, in the summer, on a budget:

1.  Go to the pool.  
We have several public pools by us that only cost around $3 to get in.  We always try to go in the morning and be home before lunch, or go right after lunch and  be home by dinner.  Eating out at the pool is a good way to spend way too much money!  We actually got a pool pass as a gift and have enjoyed it all summer.  Decide how many times you think you will go.  It may be worth it to buy a pass.  Since we have a pass, we go several times a week.  There is no pressure to stay all day and "get your money's worth" when you have a pass, because you can just come back the next day too...if you want to :)
2.  Swimming Lessons
This is the highlight of my kids summer.  We didn't do the expensive private lessons, we did the cheap group lessons.  It was $25 for 9 lessons.  My kids loved their classes and loved the attention from the teacher.  It got us out of the house and on the move early, every day.  I find that we get a lot more done when we leave the house early.
3.  The Rodeo
This is of course a local thing for us.  Every city has their "thing" and in Utah, the rodeo is a big thing.  We always plan on "kids get in free" night and we bring our own snacks and drinks.  We go really early to get seats with easy access to the aisle in case of bathroom emergencies :)  My kids love dressing up like cowboys.  Since I'm not from Utah, the rodeo is still kind of a novelty and we really have fun going to it.
4.  Spend time in nature.
We love going to the day picnic areas in the local canyon.  We bring a cooler of food to snack on and BBQ.  My husband loves rock climbing so sometimes we do that too.  Other times, we just let the kids explore and run around and make s'mores.  It's one of our family favorites and it's free :)
5.  College sports.
We love taking the kids to sporting events.  Baseball is a perfect one for summer weather.  We either go to a college event, or a minor league game because they are so much cheaper and less crowded.  The minor league games usually have themes according to who is sponsoring the event.  For ex: "Macey's presents 'Kids get in free' night and fireworks" or "Smiths' presents $1 hot dog night!"  We usually find the one that suits us and plan for that night.
6.  Have a party.
Sometimes we turn lunchtime into party time.  When Alice in Wonderland came out on DVD, my kids were dying to have a "mad tea party."  So, we spent about an hour preparing costumes, and then I dug through my pantry and came up with a menu.  We did peanut butter and jelly, but used cookie cutters to turn the sandwiches into shapes.  I put frozen raspberries into their drinks to turn them red, and we set out little bowls of fruit.  Then we made cookies that said "Eat Me". 
7.  Running through the sprinklers.
I think every kid loves that!  It never gets old.
8.  Plant a garden.
We go out and spend a few minutes on our garden every day.  If you don't have a yard, you can plant an herb garden on a windowsill.  It's not only fun to watch it grow, but I find that it makes me more creative in my cooking.  Plus, there's something gratifying about cooking things that you've grown and tended yourself.
9.  Find the local library.
We just discovered that our library has "summer reading time".  It's free, and my kids love it.  They go once a week and hear stories and make crafts.  They get little prizes for reading every day of the week.

10.  Find the community center.
I get a lot of ideas for things to do from our local rec center.  They offer all  kinds of fun (and cheap) little classes and groups for kids.  We've done "bubbles at the park" and "toddler gym" and "itty bitty ball".  Each one is about $3 per class for kids over 3.  The younger ones come with me for free.

11.  Museum.
We actually bought a membership to a local dinosaur museum.  We go all the time.  My kids never get tired of seeing the dinosaurs.  However, the local colleges by us have free museums.  BYU has a life sciences museum, and art museum, and a dinosaur museum, that are all FREE!

12.  Outdoor Mall.
The outdoor mall by us has a huge fountain that they let kids play in.  We got sometimes and let the kids get sprayed by the fountain.  They have a blast, and once again, it's free.  There is also live music in the summer.  My husband and I can sit on a bench and enjoy the music and the weather while my kids splash in the fountain.

13.  Star gazing.
Last night we laid out blankets on the driveway and looked at the stars.  My kids tried to find pictures in the stars.  My husband downloaded a free app on his phone that pinpoints your location, and they shows you the constellations above you.  It was really fun and my kids learned something.  Nate and I did that once when we were dating too :)

14.  The dollar theater.
We have a few dollar theaters by us.  Movies are so expensive now that unless I'm dying to see it (like Harry Potter) we usually wait.  It's not such a risk to see a movie you're unsure of either.  We just took my kids to see Thor and everyone really liked it!  They have since been pretending to be Thor.  I would have never paid for everyone to see it in the theater because it would have cost a fortune and they may not have even like it!  For a dollar?  It's worth the risk...

These are a lot of ideas that work for us.  You just have to do a little research.  Every area has it's "thing".  I spent 2 weeks in CA (without Nate) and we found something to do every day that was free.  We spent a lot of time at the beach.  That never gets old :)
So, be creative, and enjoy this last month of summer!

No comments:

Post a Comment