Today we’re continuing with my series “5 Creative Ways to Save” — first we talked about ways to save on Christmas. Then I told you some of my favorite strategies to save on dinner. Now let’s talk about how to have some frugal fun, and save some money on entertainment!
Creative Strategy #1: Find Free Events
Our family has SO much fun out and about in our community at various events. Most of them are FREE to attend, and many even include free food, crafts, activities, goody bag-type toys, and more!
I find most of these events on Facebook. If you log into your Facebook account, click “Events” on the left sidebar. Then look for the box on the right that says “Events Happening This Week”. It will show you tons of events in your area! Look for the ones that are free, and click “Going” to add it to your calendar.
You can also find events by going to the Facebook page of your favorite local spots — museums, churches, stores, companies, etc. Click “Events”, then click “Subscribe”, and you’ll be notified any time that place posts a new event to the calendar!
There are lots of other places to find events as well. Ask friends what their favorite annual events are. Keep an eye out for fliers and advertisements. Look in newspapers, local magazines, or websites dedicated to your local area (like this one for my town). Check out government-run programs, like the parks department or the city. They usually have tons of free family fun on the calendar!
Creative Strategy #2: Use the library
I strongly believe that the local public library is the most under-utilized resource in town! You can literally read any book you want to read, watch any movie you want to watch, or listen to any music you want to hear — for free! You might have to wait a little while for newer releases. But hey, delayed gratification makes the reward that much sweeter!
The library (in most cases) DOES have new releases. And because of the inter-library-loan program, the selection is HUGE. Here’s an example — Pitch Perfect was one of my favorite movies, so I was super excited for the sequel to come out! My library not only has the DVD, but it also has the Blu-Ray, as well as the soundtrack! I was able to watch the movie for free, get the soundtrack and load it into my iTunes, and transfer it to my phone so I can listen to it any time!
The library is a great resource for books as well! I get both physical books from my library, as well as ebooks from my library’s online loan system. Using library books is a great way to read books for book club, homeschooling, or just for fun! I am an avid reader (140+ books so far this year!!). I can’t even imagine how much money I would have to spend to read those books if I were paying for each one of them!
So next time you want to read a new book, or watch a movie that just came out, or you think about downloading that new album — get it from your library instead!
Creative Strategy #3: Use the internet
It’s no secret that the internet is a VAST resource of free entertainment.
Let me break it down by category:
- Listen online to music-streaming sites like pandora.
- Local radio stations often stream their airplay online, so you can listen to almost any radio station around the world from any location. I did this to listen to KLove while we lived in Germany!
- YouTube has great playlists to listen to, sometimes even commercial-free!
- Download your favorite songs by using a site like Listen To YouTube. All you need to do is find your song on YouTube, plug in the url on this page, and then it will give you a link to download it in mp3 format! Then you can load it onto a CD or your phone to listen any time.
- I mentioned in tip #2 that you can use your library’s online catalog to get an endless supply of free ebooks. That one is my favorite, because I can look for specific books, as opposed to just seeing what is available.
- These are some other sites that offer free ebooks or are a resource to help you FIND the free ebooks:
- Look for codes for free Redbox movies! Two of my favorite deal are sites: Money Saving Mom and Hip2Save. Both of them post Redbox deals when they pop up. You can also log into Instagram or Twitter, and search for the hashtag #Redbox to see if anybody else is posting about free codes!
- Stream movies online. There are many great paid services, like Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, etc. There are also a few free ones (with commercials) where you can watch full-length movies or tv shows. Just watch out for illegal pirated copy websites! A few legit sites are:
Creative Strategy #4: Call and Ask
Lots of local businesses have deals that are unpublished or under-advertised. If there’s a place that your family really wants to go, call the business and ask if they have a discount day/night when it is cheaper. If not, ask if they have coupons that they email or text. Ask if they have a military/clergy/student/senior discount if you qualify for any of those.
Some great deals in my local area include:
- $4 skate night at the roller skating rink on Mondays (regular price is $10.50)
- $3 ice skating if you go at 10am weekdays (regular price is $7)
- free days at the Historical Museum
- the zoo is always hosting free/discount days for various groups of people
If there is no deal day or discount coupon, ask if they have a group discount. Then you can get together some friends (maybe your homeschool group, or mommy playgroup, or church Bible study group). Go together, save money, and have fun with friends!
Creative Strategy #5: Take ONE kid
We have a tradition in our home that I LOVE. It’s called Friday Night = Date Night. Each week, one of our kids chooses a parent and goes on a date. They get precious one-on-one time, and they get to go on a special outing. The budget for date night is $10, but we often spend less than that — and sometimes nothing at all.
If there is an activity that you or one of your kids REALLY wants to do and you can’t find a discount or deal or freebie anywhere, then consider taking one child on a date to that event.
Going to the movies is a great example of this for me. It’s hard to find cheap or discounted movie tickets. But luckily, there is a small theater in a town about 20 minutes away that only costs $4 a ticket. For my whole family to see a movie, it would be WAY outside of my price range for an outing. But for just 1 adult and 1 child, $8 is doable, and within my date night budget.
My 3-year-old has been begging to go bowling, so I’m taking him on his next date. My 9-year-old is chomping at the bit to see the new Star Wars movie, so he’ll see that on his date as well!