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Family Fun on a Budget

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A lot of parents think that striving to spend less and living life on a budget means that entertaining the kids and having lots of family fun together isn’t going to be possible. This is, of course, garbage, but all of those glossy parenting magazines and TV commercials make it seem like, to enjoy time together as a family unit, you have to spend hundreds of dollars on trips to Disneyland and the like.

The reality is, that as long as you are together you can have a good time, and there are lots of very affordable activities and entertainment ideas out there waiting to be enjoyed. Here is just a sample of the ways you can have real family fun on a budget:


Origami is a great activity to try and get your kids interest in because, basically, all you need is a few sheets of paper to provide you with hours of family fun. There are numerous origami instruction sites online, and you can use them to hone your craft before running family competitions to see who can fold the best T-Rex or whose paper airplane will fly the furthest. It might be a simple pleasure, but it really is a great way to interact with your kids and pass a couple of hours at the weekend.

Go Camping

Camping can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. If you’re on a budget, you only need a few basic supplies like a tent and sleeping bags to go camping in the local area. The rest of the entertainment will be provided by nature and a few choice campfire stories. If you’re looking for a good way to bond with your kids, that doesn’t require much cash, make camping your go-to.

Online Entertainment

Having an internet connection is no longer a luxury, with the increase in companies operating primarily online, we all need access to the internet. The best way to make the most out of your connection is to choose an internet package which offers not only a high-speed internet connection but which also comes with free entertainment options like Netflix and Showtime. That way, you’ll always have entertainment options available when you’re looking to enjoy a lazy day around the screen with your kids. The advent of large TV’s and event television has meant that, although we all have our own devices, more and more families are gathering together around the TV for those big shows, and it has to be one of the most affordable sources of family fun at the moment.


Younger kids, in particular, love baking. They love measuring out the flour, mixing in the syrup, and best of all licking the spoon when the cookies have gone in the oven. Basic baking supplies can be bought at places like Walmart,and even dollar stores for very little, and ingredients for the most simple cakes and cookies won’t exactly break the bank, which means that baking is a great activity to share with the kids, not least because learning how to cook is a great life skill that will be extremely useful to them when they do finally fly the nest.


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Museums and Art Galleries

If you prefer to spend your family fun time getting out and about in your local city, you can’t beat museums and art galleries for low-cost entertainment options. Most towns and cities have at least a few cultural attractions that offer free or low-cost entry for families, and they’re great places to find out more about each other and what you all like and like. They’re also fantastic places to educate your children on a whole lot of different topics from fine art to American history, which will help them with their studies.


Another affordable way to get out and about having fun with the family is to take up geocaching. If at least one of you has a smartphone or GPS device, it won’t cost you anything,unless you’re driving to a new area to participate, in which case it'll cost you the gas money, and you’ll get lots of fresh air and exercise as you work as a team trying to locate hidden bounty. It’s great fun for all of the family, and the fact you all have to work together makes for a great family bonding experience too.

Board Games

If you’re stuck for things to do on those long, often boring Sunday evenings before work and school starts up the next morning, why not set up your own weekly board game night? The board gaming industry has been going through something of a renaissance in recent years with Settlers of Catan, Junk Art, and Star Wars: Imperial Assault revitalizing the genre. Combined with classics like Scrabble,Pictionary and, of course, Monopoly you’re sure to find a few that take your fancy and keep the whole family engaged, and if you buy them used from eBay, Craigslist or the local thrift store, it’ll hardly cost you anything at all. Throw in a few cans of soda and some choice snacks, and you’re sure to have a good time. Just prepare for the inevitable tantrums and subsequent flipping of the board that comes when you challenge the kids to a thrilling game of Monopoly!

Movie Night

Alternatively, you could use your newly acquired Netflix subscription or DVD’s rented from the library to have a fun family movie night. Take turns to let everyone choose a movie, and you’ll have a great time watching classics, talking smack about other family members’ dubious choices and generally spending time together as a family unit.

The Family Olympics

Who needs the official, and very expensive, Olympics when you can throw your own family Olympics in the backyard for a few dollars? If you’re looking to do something really special with the kids that don't involve sitting around indoors, invest in some tape, a nice plastic medal or trophy and set a number of physical challenges using any sports equipment or toys you have around. The ultimate family Olympian gets to choose that night’s movie/dinner/board game for an extra incentive to do well.Head to the Playground


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Head to the Playground

Most neighborhoods have at least one playground, and they are, of course, a completely free resource that anyone can use anytime they like. So, if you have young children and you want to ensure you have some quality family fun time together, schedule a regular playground date each week. Not only will it be great for bonding, but it’ll help to encourage fitness in your kids as they run around, swing on the jungle gym and bounce up and down on the see-saw.

Pillow Fight!

Young kids, and actually older ones, including parents, can’t resist the call of a  good old-fashioned pillow fight, and since we all have an abundance of pillows in our home, it’s a completely free activity that will get everyone engaged.

A Water Fight

If it’s good fun family fighting you're after, the water fight is also a good option. You can buy water pistols and buckets very cheaply, and once they’re filled up, and the challenge has been set, you’ll all have a great time dodging the wet stuff and trying to hit each other with your stream as you run around the yard. Get some of the other families with kids in the neighborhood involved, and you can turn it into a really far-reaching and fun event.

Organize a Scavenger Hunt

Organizing a scavenger hunt for your, and possibly the other kids in the neighborhood is another budget friendly way to have a good time. You can make the prizes something modest like chocolate bars, a small toy or a ten dollar bill, and the kids will have just as much fun. It’s all about getting them engaged in the process and giving them a challenge to keep them occupied.


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Go Thrift Shopping

I’m not entirely sure why, but kids tend to love thrift shopping - perhaps it’s because the thrift store is like a treasure trove of interesting objects just waiting to be discovered - whatever the reasons, giving your kids a small amount of money each and challenging them to see who can get the best thrift store find of the day is a great way to spend time together having fun as a family when you don’t have the budget to see the latest blockbuster or go to the fun park. The kids really will be just as happy routing through junk looking for a gem.

Having fun with the whole family on a budget definitely isn’t difficult. As you can see from some of the suggestions above, it can often be a lot more fun doing stuff together on a budget, than it is when money is no object. If you have the right attitude and don’t feel like you, or the kids are missing out, you’ll have a great time, as will the kids, and more importantly, you will create strong bonds and fantastic memories that will last a lifetime.


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