5 Cheap Nights Out With Your Family

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Spend Less Now and Have More Money Later

A version of this article was previously posted.

Guest post; Miss T at Prairie EcoThrifter

Spending time together as a family was a huge part of my upbringing. My parents always strived to spend time with us on a regular basis. Sometimes we would do activities at home and other times we would go out. Taking the entire family out for an evening of fun can be exciting and something all parents want to do on a regular basis. However, going out costs money and frequently it can cost more than the average family can afford, especially these days. So, if you want to enjoy an evening with your family, consider these 5 ideas for going out where you can really enjoy some family bonding while saving money at the same time. I did all 5 of these growing up and I still remember the fun I had to this day.

5 Fun Ideas

Cheap Family Fun - Bowling

Cheap Family Fun – Bowling

1. Head to the Theater. I know you are thinking the movies are really expensive and there is no way you can afford to go. However, frequently during the week movie theaters offer specials, even 2 for 1 deals, to get more people in to see movies during the middle of the week. In our area we had a discount movie theater where each ticket was only $3. We also brought snacks in my Mom’s purse so we wouldn’t have to pay the outrageous prices at the concession stand. The entire night cost less than $20 for the four of us. (Barbara’s comment; Don’t forget about drive ins, very popular in the summer.)

2. Go Bowling. To this day I am still not good at bowling but it is a great way to have fun and few laughs. Many alleys offer specials during the week, especially for kids. Where I lived, Tuesday was the day to go. Make a quick healthy dinner, like wraps or soup, and then head to the bowling alley for a few rounds of fun. You can even try novelty bowling where you bowl by standing in funny positions.

3. Head to the Park and get Ice Cream. Where I live they have a place called the BDI. It is a little ice cream shop on a bridge. We would go there as kids for a small treat and walk outside along the river. We would watch to see how many fish and birds we would see. Most kids love to go to the park and since the park is free it is perhaps one of the best places to go! Your kids will love exploring nature and the parents get some family time and fresh air. While you’re there, head to your local ice cream parlor and have a cone of your favorite flavor. A few licks of goodness is all you need.

4. Watch University Sports Games. Many kids really love sports so consider a family night out to a local sports game. Entrance is inexpensive and it can be a lot of fun to watch local people playing a sport. (Barbara’s comment; there are lots of universities and colleges in our area and many of the events are free. We saw a great soccer match and caught a glimpse a famous U.S. soccer star in the crowd.)

5. DIY Pizza and Arcade Games. Another great night out with the family can be enjoying a family size pizza. Get each kid to pick what topping they want and then make a pizza together. Not only is this fun but it also helps children build cooking skills. Once you have eaten, head to the local arcade. Not only will you have a great meal that is inexpensive, but the arcade games are generally inexpensive as well. You can give each child $2-3 in quarters and let them play until they are gone. (Barbara’s comment; Ski ball is my favorite, although basket ball and dance dance revolution come in at 2nd and 3rd.)

Spending time together as a family really doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many ways you can have fun on the cheap.

Barbara Across the Blogosphere

Investing Answers published my guest author article, What’s the First Rule of Investing, It’s Not What You Would Think
Carnival of Retirement at Fat Guy,Skinny Wallet
Yakezie Carnival at Money Reasons
Finance Carnival for Young Adults at Cash Cow Couple

Guest Contributor; Miss T blogs at Prairie EcoThrifter grew up in the Canadian prairies and still lives there today. She is passionate about saving money, being healthy, looking out for our environment, and most of all having fun. Her blog shares tips on how you too can live a green, debt free, and fun life.

What kind of activities have you done with your kids this summer? Please share.

image credit; flickr


  1. Great ideas! I wish we had a BDI and a local arcade!

    We play a lot of board games still, go on bike rides, play four square in the driveway, and one of my favorite things that you can’t plan- just talk.

    I have never perfected the art of bowling either. I seem to have a great game once in awhile for no apparent reason and other times, I am lucky to break 100. As long as nobody gets frustrated, it is very fun!

    Everyday Tips

    July 13, 2011

  2. @Everyday, Bowling is fun, even if you stink!!! 🙂 We’ve been playing tons of rummy que a really fun game recently. It’s amazing how much extra time there is when you don’t have internet in the home!


    July 13, 2011

  3. When our children were small (25+ years ago), we took them to museums. In Los Angeles , there is the Children’s Museum which is very hands on. During the summer, we entered them in a library reading program. There were really neat prizes. When they were very small, we use to read to them and almost act out the stories. Depending on their age, we played board games, cooking together, or go to puppet shows.


    July 13, 2011

  4. @krantcents. Sounds like you have done well. I think those library reading programs are a great way to get kids reading. Too many kids now don’t read and yet it’s so important.

  5. @Everyday. We also enjoy board games. Card games are great too and they don’t take any space. And yes- talking is important and fun too. I am amazed at how many families don’t talk anymore.

  6. Having bonding with the family is really a memorable one…Thanks for the post…

    Amenda Winter

    July 14, 2011

  7. I know you actually are usually thinking your movies are usually really expensive along with there is usually no approach it is possible to afford to search. However, frequently during the actual week movie theatres offer specials, sometimes a couple of regarding 1 deals, to help get extra people throughout to help see movies during the particular middle of the week.

    criminal justice

    July 19, 2011

  8. Hi Criminal justice-Thanks for the reminder. Especially in the summer, when theatres are competing with other activities you certainly can get some good deals.

    Barb Friedberg

    July 19, 2011

  9. Bowling is really a good way to spent the night with your family. We usually did that and we have a great time. The kids love it very much because of the ice cream and yummy treats after the game.


    July 20, 2011

  10. @Richard, Agreed! Bowling is so much fun!!! And you can get great specials too!

    Barb Friedberg

    July 20, 2011

  11. woow a cool and fun idea,,its a great bonding on a family.That’s one of the best family enjoyment. However, frequently during the actual week movie theatres offer specials, sometimes a couple of regarding 1 deals, to help get extra people throughout to help see movies during the particular middle of the week.

    college search

    August 28, 2011

  12. Everyday is family bonding with kids, and always see to it that it’s special.. But loved eating pizza after arcades games.


    September 12, 2011

  13. Believe it or not, in this days and age with all the video games… me and my girls order pizza and play board games – still a lot of fun. 🙂


    September 18, 2011

  14. We always go to the park and bring bread and crackers to feed to the seagulls and ducks. The kids love it.

    Mac Fryer

    November 10, 2011

  15. Often I find I have just as much fun staying in as going out. I love board games and its pretty awesome when I can get friends over for Settlers of Catan or some Axis and Allies (yes, nerd alert)


    August 5, 2013

    • @Potato- We love playing board games as well. There’s so many fun things to do at home if you are creative and spend a few minutes thinking before rushing out.

      Barbara Friedberg

      August 6, 2013

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