When you are on a budget, anything you do seems to be too expensive, even enjoying a little family fun. I have to admit going from a family of 3 to a family of 4 has wreaked havoc on our budget. Of course we wouldn’t change it for the world, we just had to make some adjustments. I made a pact with myself that we would stay home and save money. No eating out or shopping for anything except food or household essentials. For the most part I was able to do this with a few exceptions of course.
Every time I don’t feel like cooking, I think about how much money I could save by eating at home. You get into a mindset where you feel guilty if you spend more than the amount it would cost to prepare the food yourself. That can just drive you crazy if you thought like that forever. You would never enjoy a delicious meal at the restaurant you’ve been hearing such great things about, or experience being pampered at the new nail salon up the block.
You can still splurge a little, but also follow a budget. Here are a few of the things we love to do that don’t cost too much to if you go to the right places.
Ice Cream for $1.69!
My kids love ice cream and have it almost every night at home, but they also love going out for ice cream. This can cost a lot for a family of 4, a lot more than the cost of a container of ice cream that’s for sure. So we take them to MacDonald’s, a cone or cup with a topping is only $1.69!! How can you beat the price? We get to enjoy time out and not spend over $20 on ice cream.
Dinner for under $12 for 4!
Going out for dinner rarely happens in our house. The rational part of my brain cannot justify spending $50-$100 on meals I can make for a quarter of that. I understand it’s the experience, but with 2 kids under 6, the experience is mostly stressful to say the least. Our son is throwing food or screaming “out” and my daughter is saying she’s “bored”. Why would I want to spend that kind of money and not enjoy if to the fullest?
If we do go out, we opt for Pizza. Not just any pizza though, Costco pizza. If we go to any other pizza place you are looking at $25 for a pie and drinks. Costco’s pizza is $10 and the drinks are .64 cents. You can’t go wrong there.
Local Library Free!
Finding things to do when the kids are off from school without spending money can be tough. Being home for days on end during school vacations starts to get boring and the kids start to get on each other’s nerves rather quickly. The library is great for books, movies and most of all, their amazing programs. They have everything from making crafts, story time, playing with legos or playdoh, you name it.
The library also has discounts or even free passes to local museums and such. Check your local library’s list of programs that are age appropriate for your children and you will be amazed at what they offer.
Photography mini sessions $25!
If you are like me, you try to DIY all the photos for your holiday cards to save money. This is great for holiday cards, but not for hanging on my wall, I am the least camera savvy person around.
When my daughter was born we took her to a professional photographer and I was outraged at the prices. I have 1 photo that cost $200! Luckily this was a gift. I was floored that they had all of these beautiful photos and I could only afford one.
When my son was born I found a great deal on a newborn session on Living Social and I signed up for the photographer’s email list. During certain holidays like Valentine’s Day or Easter they were offering $25 mini sessions and if you signed up before a certain date you got a free digital file. I was sold! It was a dream of mine to get the kids photographed together and even though it was a Valentine’s Day shoot it is still a great memory. I ordered my digital file in black and white and it’s a beautiful photo with a heart made of roses in the background. Absolutely beautiful!
Check your local photographer’s websites and sign up for emails or like their Facebook page for great deals on photo sessions. Sometimes if they are located on a main street where parades or festivals are held, they will offer great rates for the day of the event.