My family has found a few ways to save while still having fun. We have done this by becoming tourists in our own city, inviting our friends to share costs with us, and deliberately choosing activities that are affordable for the entire family. Read on for specific recommendations.

1. Rediscover your city

frugal-familyWe are lucky enough to live near a beach, and we take advantage of it any time we can.  We usually time our trips early in the morning, which means that the beach is practically empty when we arrive.  We park a few blocks from the beach, to take in the sights along the way. Because of the early hours, restaurants that would otherwise be too expensive offer breakfast specials, and we usually take advantage. For about $20 (including gas to get there, parking fees, and a delicious breakfast), my family of three has a great morning Saturday adventure. This same concept can be applied to your local lake, mountain or even downtown! Go out and explore your city, and you will be amazed at how much you discover, for such a low price.

2. Celebrations

Some of our friends have birthdays or anniversaries about the same time as we do, so we make plans to have a  joint celebration.  We usually meet at a local park (tip: get there earlier to have your pick of the free tables and grills), where we can grill and the kids and adults can play- free!  To make it fair, we split the costs among the families, with each family contributing between $50-$100 for an entire day of food, drinks, and games. The more families that participate, the lower the food/drinks contribution per family. This system has the benefit of bringing us all together and reducing the expenses we would incur where we to host several separate get together.

3. Zoo Societies

Many people don’t know that by joining the local zoo society, they can receive discounted membership rates for the zoo and other local attractions. When we recently went to the zoo, we noticed that they advertised a 40% discount on the annual membership if we joined the same day we visited. When leaving, we stopped at the visitors’ center and signed up. We chose the membership that allowed us the most savings. Instead of choosing a family membership, we chose an individual membership for me, as this gives me the option of bringing along any adult as well as a child under two years old, for free! With this $60 membership, we all get free passes to the zoo for the entire year. We’ve already gone twice since then, so the investment has truly paid off.

Any of these ideas can work for couples or families who are looking for ways to save some money without sacrificing time spent with friends and each other. There is no need for expensive trips or restaurants when you can find plenty of inexpensive ways to have a good time. One last tip: if you want to have a nice date with your husband or wife, think about the local museum. Many museums offer discounts or free entrance on specific days of the week.