What’s the best way to save money? Stay at home.
Entertaining the family can be costly when you are on a budget. I don’t know about you, but there have been some months that we haven’t had much of an entertainment budget at all.
There’s no need to give up on entertaining the family when things are tight, though.
Here I’ve listed three family entertainment options with a do-it-at home alternative for each:
- A trip to the ballpark. So you want to take the family to see your favorite professional team in action. Be prepared to shell out the cash. Not only will you have to pay for seats (which could start at $8 a person for seats in the peanut gallery), you also need to be prepared to pay for parking. If your kids want food and drinks, you’ll have to pay for that too. A trip to ballpark for a family of four could easily total $75, or more.
- Do at home alternative: The sports channel. If you have cable then you and the family can watch a ballgame on TV. If the game is blacked out for the local team, try watching a college game and picking a team to root for. Those “ballpark” hot dogs and sodas can be made at home with a cost of under $10, which will probably be your only expense for the entire event. (Note: if you don’t have cable, try renting a movie about sports. There are some great kid-friendly sports flicks out there.)
- A trip to the movie theater. It’s fun to catch new movies in the theater when they first come out, but for a family of four the trip can be costly. In my area tickets cost between $6 and $8 a person. If your kids want popcorn, candy, and soda — watch out! We recently found that a large soda cost $4 a person at a movie theater near us. With the movies, you are probably looking at close to $50 for less than two hours of entertainment. That can really make a dent in a tight budget.
- Do it at home alternative: Video rentals. For about $4 (or free, if you go to the library) you can rent DVDs of older movies and have a home movie night. In fact, for less than half the cost of taking the family to the movies you can rent an older movie AND its sequel. (If you have girls try renting all three of the Princess Diaries movies.) For under $10 you can have enough popcorn, candy and soda for the entire family.
- Dining Out. This may not strictly fall under the category of entertainment, but it can take a huge bite out of the family budget. Meeting and eating with friends at the local restaurant may be convenient (and I love it because I don’t have to clean the kitchen afterwards), but it is expensive. For our family of four the tab usually comes to over $50. (That’s almost as much as my grocery bill.)
- Do it at home alternative: Host a pot-luck! Instead of meeting your friends and their family at the restaurant, why not host a casual pot-luck dinner instead? With a pot-luck dinner each family is responsible for bringing part of the meal, so your kitchen shouldn’t get too messy. You can even splurge and buy fancy paper plates to serve the food on. (That way there’s not too much mess afterwards.) Caution: be sure to agree in advance what each family will bring.
Contents (c) Copyright 2007, Laura Spencer. All rights reserved.