Christmas gift boxes decorated with lace and stars, lifestyle, hWhen you’re single, knowing how much money you’ve got coming in and adjusting your spending accordingly will keep your finances in order. But when you’ve got a family to take care of, budgeting takes on a new level of importance. Having kids isn’t cheap, and surprise expenses have a way of coming at you from all directions.

Some families don’t bother with a budget, and this can cause serious problems. Others budget like crazy, cutting out all but absolutely essential expenses. But we’ve all got to have a little fun every now and then. Finding a happy medium will keep everyone happy without putting a strain on the finances.

Entertainment is one of the first areas where many families make budget cuts. Here are some frugal entertainment ideas that the whole family will enjoy.

* Take a trip to the park. It’s free, and you can make a day out of it if you want. Pack a picnic lunch, walk the trails, and let the kids play. The only cost will be transportation, and if you’re within walking distance, you won’t even have to pay for that.

* Go camping. You’ll need some equipment such as tents, sleeping bags and a camp stove, but once you’ve got that out of the way camping is very inexpensive. Campgrounds rent out space for tents at reasonable rates, and if you know someone with some land, they might let you camp there for free. If all else fails, you can always set up a tent in your back yard!

* Have a family game night. Break out the board games, or have a tournament featuring a favorite video game. If you’ve already got games, this won’t cost you a dime. If you don’t have any, most board games and card games are relatively inexpensive and will provide you with entertainment at no additional cost for years to come.

* Plan a movie night. Borrow a movie from the library, get a Netflix membership and borrow unlimited movies for a low monthly fee, or rent a movie from your local Redbox for $1 a night. Add some popcorn and drinks, and you’re all set for an evening of family fun!

* Visit a museum or petting zoo. Some of these attractions have free admission, and many others offer discounts for kids. Museums and zoos are both fun and educational for the entire family.

* Go to the movies, but don’t pay full price. If there’s a dollar theater in your area, the whole family can take in a flick for next to nothing. If you want to go to the big theater and see a new release, go to the matinee. It’s much cheaper than going in the evening.

There are plenty of options for family fun on a budget. The most important thing is to spend quality time together, and all of these activities allow for that. The next time the kids start getting bored, there’s no need to dip into the bill money or emergency fund. Do something cheap or free!


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