Raising children (particularly your kids) is expensive, and often entertainment and recreation are extra amenities which parents tend to cut back on when they have to save money. This can be difficult since children don’t comprehend what saving money entails; their preferences for goods don’t take into account the opportunity cost of what their parents must forego in order to afford the extra good. Obviously parents want to make their children happy, but how can they meet their demands when they’re on a tight budget?
- Go old fashioned on them. Kids don’t need to have things that are bright, shiny, and new to have fun! As a matter of fact, kids love to get messy and make crafts. Instead of buying a new $40.00 video game, go to a Wal-Mart or a Target and buy some washable paint and paper or some colorful play-doe. When I used to babysit, the child used to always choose play-doe over his other fancy toys, and it would keep him occupied for hours!
- Re-direct their attention. Children are different than adults in the way that they can be easily entertained and easily have their attention re-directed. One thing I learned as a pre-school aide is that when a child wants a toy that another child is playing with, you should re-direct their attention somewhere else; before you know it, they will forget they wanted that toy in the first place. So, when they keep begging for the new expensive fire truck Lego set, advertised on a commercial, you can try to re-direct their attention to some play-doe or paint and encourage them to make a fire truck themselves. In this way, you are killing two birds with one stone and strengthening their creativity skills as well!
- Take advantage of free or inexpensive activities and outings. Instead of spending a fortune on amusement park tickets for the whole family, take advantage of your neighborhood community pools and recreational parks when the kids say they want to go have some outdoor fun. Instead of emptying your wallet on an expensive vacation with hotel costs, go camping or hiking with the family for a cheap rate. If you live in an area near free beaches, take advantage of daily beach trips during the summer instead of overnight vacations.