Frugal Family Fun All Year Long


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With three kids age eight and under and a tight budget while we are paying cash for my graduate school, we try to keep our entertainment budget low. It doesn’t mean, however, that we want to miss out on having fun. We just focus on free or nearly-free activities while allowing a few extras within our budget during the year.

I actually keep a list with a seasonally-based bucket list all year. I include outdoor activities, holiday-related fun, crafts for my girls, who are 5 and 2, seasonal food and desserts, movies, and local seasonal festivals or activities. We usually use our budgeting tools to plan for one family membership to the local zoo, aquarium, or amusement park, and otherwise stick to a small monthly entertainment budget of $100 or less. This budget includes ice cream, admission to places, food at festivals, movies, or a pizza night. We use an Excel spreadsheet, but other people might like something ready-made like Personal Capital, You Need A Budget, or another budgeting software.

What do we do throughout the year?


  • Sprout some seeds and plant them when they are ready
  • Easter/spring treats: chocolate bunnies, Peeps, candy eggs
  • Dye some eggs
  • The first post-winter bike ride
  • Fly a kite
  • Grab the rain boots and umbrellas and splash in the puddles
  • Lemons are in season, so we make Lemon Bars
  • Crafts at home: bunnies, rainbows, leprechauns, baby birds
  • Eating main dishes that include eggs or asparagus


  • Water play: go swimming, to a splash pad, or run through the sprinkler
  • Go hiking in the woods
  • Go camping, either in the woods or in the backyard
  • Have a bonfire and make S’mores
  • Watch fireworks
  • Have a picnic
  • Roll down a hill
  • Catch fireflies (we have them here in Ohio)
  • Buy fruits and veggies form the Farmer’s Market
  • Grow something
  • Go to a festival or amusement park
  • Crafts at home: sunflowers, ice cream cones, hula girls, and mermaids, fireworks
  • Grilled foods
  • Strawberry sponge cake, Agua Fresca, Peach Pie, and Israeli Salad made with fresh summer veggies



What do you do for frugal fun?