Author Topic: Frugal Fun?  (Read 5716 times)

Mrs. D.

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Frugal Fun?
« on: July 08, 2015, 09:49:32 PM »
I'm about to start on a journey as a stay-at-home mom living on a very tight budget. I'm looking for creative ideas for having free (or very cheap) fun. Bonus points for fun that is baby-friendly. So far I have:
-parks, walking trails, and any free outdoor space (when it's not 90 degrees out)
-story time at the library
-one day per month when the zoo and museum are free (or reduced admission)

So far I have excluded:
-Meetup groups for stay-at-home moms who go out to lunch once a week at fun local restaurants

Any other thoughts?

elvizzle

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2015, 10:27:28 PM »
I'm a stay at home dad and I try to go to the park or library almost every day with my son.  Those are great places for my son to explore and interact with other kids.

Once or twice a week we go to Barnes and Noble and they have storytime.  My son usually ignores storytime and plays with their Thomas the Train display set

If it's hot out we go to the indoor mall and have him play in the indoor playground.

Lunch at Mcdonald's or Chic fil a are fun because of the play areas.

Hopefully these ideas help you out!


Mrs.LC

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2015, 06:27:38 AM »
Staying at home with the kids can be fun and frugal as well. Make forts and tents in the living room. Throw a blanket on the floor and have a picnic lunch. Have the kids help in the kitchen making all kinds of things. One of my boys favorite activities ever was playing in cheap shaving cream that I would squirt on top of the dining room table. They drew pictures with the shaving cream and ended up with it all over themselves but it was easy to clean up and smelled good, too! They also loved to do artwork projects with paper, glue, markers, fabric scraps, buttons, etc.

2ndTimer

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2015, 10:10:21 AM »
Two cheap things that add greatly to the free outdoor activities when your baby is old enough to enjoy them are a balloon and a bottle of bubble liquid.  Not at the same time obviously.  We picnic outside a lot and I would strongly recommend a thermos.  We really enjoy having hot coffee or tea.  Also, check the thrift stores for a used insulated mug.  Just the thing for when you are visiting an indoor mall playground.  Nobody knows you didn't spend $5.00 to get it filled at Starbucks.

trailrated

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2015, 10:40:30 AM »
I found a water table on craigslist for about $20 and my son goes nuts playing on it in the yard just splashing about. You might want to check out geocaching too which can be a lot of fun and is free.

AZDude

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2015, 10:45:06 AM »
Splash pads in the summer. Also, not sure on your location, but here the local library gives out free passes to local places like museums, zoos, and other "cultural" places, called a culture pass. We have used to them to hit up a few places during the summer.

Sandbox is a great one when its not too hot out. Sand, a bucket, shovel, and some water will keep a young kid busy for hours.


Gretamom

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2015, 03:30:07 PM »
Lots of areas have free music in the park and free outdoor movies in the park (some kid friendly) in the summertime.

expectopatronum

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2015, 03:45:39 PM »
Make sure to check your local town center/performing arts - kind of like Gretamom was saying. Here, we have an outdoor theatre that does free musicals, symphony, plays, and more. A lot of high schools have shows on for cheap, sometimes free. Last night DH and I saw kids gathered for a nighttime showing of Maleficent at one of those pedestrian-friendly dining/shopping areas, and our old pool used to do this too (show movies at night).

Oh, and check for nature centers at your local park. They may have hands-on type stuff for kids.

For an older kid (someday) - our park also has free mini golf, and there are disc golf courses all over for free.

Cultural groups sometimes put on free events. Next week we're going to the free Bastille Day celebration put on by the French legion here.

Joggernot

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2015, 04:30:23 PM »
Our local aquarium has free kid friendly movies and discover channel programs twice a day in the afternoon.  Good for hot days.  Once a month they had kid friendly (e.g., Nemo) movies at night with free popcorn.  The art center has some kid friendly crafts classes.  Being by the ocean gives free access to the beach areas.  The local museum/mansion has outdoor movies once a week during the summer along with live music once a month; all for free.  The aquarium also has crafts for kids - this week is make a dolphin out of a sock as their craft.  Try the local theater group for cheap theater.  Even if your kids don't participate, go to the recitals of each dance studio for free entertainment

Mrs. D.

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2015, 09:13:02 PM »
Thank you for these suggestions! I will definitely be trying some of these when DS arrives in a few months.

Meowkins

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2015, 12:44:57 PM »
I'd also recommend buying some used board games. While these aren't necessarily baby-friendly, your kids can grow into them. My husband and I enjoy playing board games together instead of fancy nights on the town. Here are some of my favorites:
- Ticket to Ride
- Pandemic
- Settlers of Catan
- Aquarius
- Superfight (This is newer, I think, and might be harder to find free)



Merrie

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2015, 02:52:10 PM »
The malls near here have indoor play spaces in the mall. I like to pack a "picnic lunch" and stay for a few hours. It's cheap if you can avoid buying stuff you don't need at the mall.

Try joining Facebook groups for stay-at-home parents. Often people will post what they are going to do on a given day and arrange to meet up with others. You can just skip over the ones that cost more money than you want to spend. These groups can vary widely so if you don't make friends through one group, try another.

My husband is our SAH parent now. He has a membership to the Y and it includes the kids, so he can work out while leaving them in the childcare area and get a bit of a kid break. That is our major kid-related splurge right now, it costs a little over $60 a month, but getting a sitter in even once a week would be more than that.

jeromedawg

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2015, 04:55:16 PM »
I'm about to start on a journey as a stay-at-home mom living on a very tight budget. I'm looking for creative ideas for having free (or very cheap) fun. Bonus points for fun that is baby-friendly. So far I have:
-parks, walking trails, and any free outdoor space (when it's not 90 degrees out)
-story time at the library
-one day per month when the zoo and museum are free (or reduced admission)

So far I have excluded:
-Meetup groups for stay-at-home moms who go out to lunch once a week at fun local restaurants

Any other thoughts?

I know of some meetup groups for SAHMs where they sort of do small potlucks and host gatherings at each others houses. I'm sure you could go to a local park to do this too, but it would either have to be a closer group of friends or like-minded folks to work out best I'd think...

genealogist

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2015, 06:41:26 PM »
Home Depot and Lowe's have kid's workshops every month on Saturday mornings. Just pre-register and go in for a free kid-friendly construction activity. Not very baby-friendly, but they're free and the kids get to take a completed projected home.

Valetta

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2015, 07:19:23 PM »
Just to preface this, I'm not a mother but I have several friends that are SAHMs or mothers that work outside the home. These are a few things they've talked about:

What about volunteering? There are adopt a grandparent type programs - many seniors would love the chance the be around babies/children. I have a coworker and a 5 year old that just started volunteering at a local nursing home and they are loving it.

There is a SAHM group here that gets together monthly for a food swap - homemade soups, baked goods, preserves, etc. Very frugal and a good way to get together.

I have a friend that has days that are themed at home, it helps her plan activities - Wednesday is Art Day, Thursday is Science day, etc. She doesn't do anything elaborate or expensive, she's really frugal. She finds things to do just with stuff she has around the house. Often she'll get together with another mom and kids at home for these activities or they'll trade off.

charis

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2015, 07:23:31 PM »
When the baby is too little for many "activities," I would get a good carrier and go on hiking at local parks.  Also, look into recreation centers for free swimming and splash pads.  Taking a little baby into the pool is lots of fun.  When he gets past the newborn stage, playgrounds with baby swings and sandboxes, baby story hour at the library, see if there is toy library in your area too.  Start your own mom group that meets up at the playground, each others' homes for coffee, or a hike.

BrickByBrick

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2015, 07:43:52 PM »
I found a water table on craigslist for about $20 and my son goes nuts playing on it in the yard just splashing about.

+1

Don't have kids myself but my sister-in-law asked me to keep an eye out for one for the toddler nephews.  Found a great one at a yard sale and they go absolutely nuts for hours playing with it.  There's also a lot of parent/child (and uncle...) activities that you can use the water table for.

SwordGuy

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2015, 08:06:29 PM »
"Pooh sticks" is great fun if you're near a bridge over a stream.

Mr. OTT

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Re: Frugal Fun?
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2015, 09:02:16 PM »
1.  Plastic kiddie pool for about $15 a Wal-mart.  My daughter loves this in the summer.
2.  Playgrounds outdoor and free indoor playgrounds at the mall, McDonald's, Chick-fil-a, etc
3.  Train tables at the library and/or bookstores (Barnes and Noble has one in my area)
4.  Buy kids toys and clothes on Craigslist or at garage sales.  Once they grow out of them, you can turn around and sell them for about the same price you paid for them.
5.  Free concerts (most babies love music as long as it isn't too loud)
6.  Going for a stroll (the first few months, this is about the only thing you can do with baby.  My daughter loved the sounds outdoors and the movement of being in a stroller.)