By: Canadian Budget Binder
Have you ever noticed once the winter sets in most people are comfy sitting inside with the family watching movies around the fire,eating popcorn or playing games. Well that gets old, although it’s a fairly cheap night in with the gang. Then suddenly our lawns turn from white to blah and from gremlins to warriors we battle our way to sun, sand,music,parties and the smell of barbeques! (beer in hand I might add)
Yes, it’s that time of year in Canada where we start to hear the lawn mowers running,the birds chirping and your neighbours spring cleaning their homes.
Then we have the kids who are anticipating or better yet counting down the last days before summer vacation. We’ve hung up our snow gear to dust off the next seasons attire because it’s time to get out and get moving again.
When we think of fun for the family we automatically think money don’t we.
Yes money can get you top-notch entertainment but not everything that is fun and educational costs money . Keep in mind not everyone has money to save for family getaways or short jaunts around the city. It also doesn’t make sense to pile debt on top of debt if you can’t afford it in the first place. The pleasure will be short-lived once the bill arrives… sort of like after Christmas if you didn’t budget the money you spent on gifts.
There are alternative ways to have fun without breaking the bank.
You can form a neighbourhood sports team and play sports once a week, go for long walks down the Nature trails or have a party in your back yard. We like to go check out Open Houses/ Homes for Sale in our city to see what others are doing to their homes and get ideas for our own home. This is free and fun because it’s something we like to do as a couple. Home Decor and landscaping are topics we both like to explore for free.
Geocaching is also an exciting fun outdoor event that has been getting lots of buzz around the world.
Geocaching is outdoor treasure hunting using a Smart Phone or your GPS device and planned coördinates.With Geocaching you attempt to find the treasure and it’s yours. You can even plant a geocache if you want and have people search for it. Yes you are out-of-pocket the cost of the device but it’s free sailing after you pay for it with that cash you saved! It’s fun for the entire family and it’s free. There are currently 1,743,784 active geocaches around the world and 5 million geocachers.
Not convinced yet? Well start the budget if you like the excitement and sounds of the most familiar family tourist destinations in Ontario. If you are a family who loves to go to Niagara Falls ,Marine Land or Canada’s Wonderland you know you better save your nickles. These types of trips are great when you plan them ahead of time and save money in the budget. This helps to offset the costs so you don’t have to dip into your Emergency Savings or see your credit line grow exponentially.
Keep costs low=planning
We don’t have any of our own children (yet) so in the summer we have exchange students at which time we need to be creative when it comes to outdoor fun. Although the students already attend the big attractions in our area as listed above we still like to show them the surrounding area. One place we like to frequent is Webster’s Falls in Hamilton, Ontario.
We hike through the park and visit the falls and take loads of pictures and all costing us around $5.00 to park the vehicle plus gas. We make sure we bring plenty of beverages and snacks for us along the way and a lunch if it will be a picnic in the afternoon. You certainly don’t want to get caught having to pay tourist prices on food and drink so bring extras just in case. In any case eating in vs eating out even if it is a picnic still saves you about 50% of the costs of convenience. The kids simply love the time we spend at Webster’s Falls as it’s something they’ve never seen whilst exploring wildlife, plants, scenery and people.
We also like to visit local parks and beaches and again you mainly pay for parking and gas which is a fun frugal trip out. Keep an eye out for coupons, on-line tickets or in shops that might help drive the cost of your trips down and help save some money in your pocket. The list of free/frugal fun you can have with your family or as a couple is endless. Keep an open mind as there is fun to be had by all. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ideas!
If all else fails have that plan B in place for the big attractions ..Budget for family vacations=planning… so you don’t get stuck with a hefty bill.
How to Source out Free and Cheap Outings in your area?
- Talk to your friends and see what they do
- Research on-line, there’s a whole world waiting to be discovered
- Call your local City or Tourism Information Outlet ( if you have one) or visit as they have a multitude of magazines you can look through.
Below you can read what some of our Canadian Budget Binder Facebook Fans do with their family for a frugal yet fun outing!
What do you or your family do for fun that doesn’t break the bank?
Share your comments with us!
- Michelle DesRoche: Hike, picnic at the park
Laura Neddo: Go on a picnic,walk your dog,go to the water and feed the birds,go on a hike. and clean up the yard!
Sue Demers Judges:Take them all shopping with me to help out with coupons. Not exactly free, but rewarding and its an outing!
Nicole Ballam: We have a bird sanctuary nearby where the birds eat right out of your hand…the kids love it
Lindsay Threlkeld: We go geocaching (there was an upfront cost for the gps, but now it’s free to do!)
Joanna Cheevers: My daughter just loves when I take her to the beach. One of our local beaches has the sand to play in, a park and swings, and a historic carousel which although not free, costs just a nickel a ride.
Kathy Molnar Mahood: The beach and the Peterborough zoo in northern Ontario it’s so pretty there and its free except the little train ride you can go on and they have a lot of animals
Edna Mahood: Our local zoo is free, We window shop a lot,Camping
Art museums. Many different things are offered seasonally.
Tamara Carr: I have a membership to the Canada’s game centre and children under 2 can swim for free 🙂 So that and the park is usually our day out
Jen Peacock: We go to my parents cottage at Crystal Beach…gets a little crowded at times but my Aunt belongs to a beach club near by and we can sometimes go with her and its less crowded. Port Colborne is nearby and that is fun, Niagara Falls is also close. I love picnics…when we’re home we sit by the credit river and when we’re at the cottage we picnic along the Niagara Parkway. I also love going for walks and jogs. I know it’s not free but we go to yard sales every Saturday and we love that! I’ve gotten a few good bargains… books for my son, a toy lawn mower and Christmas cards…$3
April Christianson: I just got back from an hour-long bike ride with our 4 yr old daughter. I wish we had a bike trailer to take our 10m old but we had a grandma. We are going swimming tomorrow with free passes that we got.
Wendy LeDrew: Park, beach, walk, hike, bike ride, campfire, picnic…sports..like playing a game of catch, baseball, soccer, or volleyball, frisbee…
Sherry Hounsell: Back Yard!
Shelley Ann McInnes Chenier: The beach once the nice weather is back…only cost is gas….
Vicki Holst: I used to take my nieces to an amazing fish store they thought they were going to an aquarium.
Bonnie McCarl Buckley: The hubby and I go searching for old abandoned houses, buildings etc and take our camera , some of them have private property keep out signs up so we avoid those but we have found some pretty cool places
- HOW TO: Go Geocaching with Your Kids (inhabitat.com)
- How To Take A Cruise On A Small Budget (canadianbudgetbinder.com)
- Five Exercise Methods That Cost You Absolutely Nothing! (canadianbudgetbinder.com)