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10 Ways to Save on Visiting National Park with Kids

If you love visiting national parks or have always wanted to visit some, then be sure to check out these great ways to save on visiting National Parks with kids!

{Looking for more budget-friendly tips on vacationing as a family? Check out our posts on Creative Ways to Fund Family Vacations, Tips to Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Spending a Fortune, and Money-Saving Vacation Tips.}

Save on National Parks with Kids

Guest post from Brigitte of BrigitteBrulz.com

Did you know there are over 400 National Park Sites in the United States?!

This includes national historic sites, national recreational areas, national sea shores, national monuments, and just over 60 national parks that you can explore with your family. Check out the National Park Service’s website to find one near you (or for your next vacation).

If you love traveling and adventuring as a family, then be sure to check out these 10 ways to save on visiting National Parks with kids!

1. Purchase or Sign Up for an Annual Pass

Families who frequent national parks that charge a fee may benefit from an annual pass, which is good for 12 months from the purchase month.

Seniors (ages 62+) can take advantage of an annual pass (or even a lifetime pass) aimed specifically at them for an even steeper discount. The senior pass will cover the cost of everyone in a non-commercial vehicle if the site has a per vehicle charge. Great way to enjoy some time with grandkids!

Families with a fourth grader can enjoy free entry at hundreds of locations from September through August by getting a free annual pass through the Every Kid in a Park program. Even homeschooling families with a fourth grader can take advantage of this opportunity!

Active duty military members (and their dependents) can receive free annual passes for many sites. Just ask for a U.S. military annual pass.

Even if your family has an annual pass, it is still advisable to contact parks ahead of time to ensure the pass is accepted at that location.

View from Effigy Mounds

2. Go on Free Days

If you don’t plan to visit the national parks multiple times in a 12 month span, an annual pass may not make sense for your family.

Instead, check to see if they offer any free days. It’s suggested to arrive early and be prepared for large crowds of people on these days!

(NOTE: Some national sites are free all year round.)

3. Check the Events Calendar

Junior Ranger days, astronomy programs, family days, historic days, nature walks, sled dog demonstrations, movies, archaeology days, and photography walks are just a few of the low cost or even free events offered throughout the year at national sites.

Schedule your visits accordingly by checking the events calendar.

4. Check out the Junior Ranger Program

Kids may enjoy participating in the free Junior Ranger Program where they can complete fun yet educational activities and earn badges at each national park.

Even kids who don’t have an opportunity to visit many national parks can earn badges at home! They can complete booklets about bats, archaeology, caves, the Underground Railroad, and more.

National Parks Junior Ranger Badge

5. Create a Webrangers Account

Kids (and even interested adults) can earn virtual badges and rewards as they complete activities while learning about people, history, animals, nature, science, puzzles, and parks through the Webrangers program.

Registration is free and simple- just create a user ID and password. Once an account has been created, all of the completed activities are saved so progress can easily be tracked.

Kids can even have fun personalizing their own virtual ranger station! They get to choose a theme and customize the walls, shelves, chair, desk, floor, picture, and window view. What a great way to get kids excited about visiting National Parks and learning more!

6. Carpool

By carpooling with others, you can split the cost of the entrance fee if the site charges a per vehicle fee.

7. Stop by the Visitor’s Center

Visitor’s centers often provide free maps, guides, suggested tips, exhibits, and even videos to ensure you get the most out of your visit.

woods in a national park

8. Talk to Park Rangers

Park rangers are often quite knowledgeable about the area and can offer additional suggestions and information about the site.

You may even be able to get a personal tour if you ask (particularly on a non-busy day)!

9. Plan Ahead

Be sure to ceck out the site’s “plan your visit” section! It’s full of great information about fees, hours, things to do, suggestions, and more to make the most out of your visit. It’s helpful to have an idea of what you want to see ahead of time since some parks are so big!

Also, check the weather to ensure you are wearing weather-appropriate clothing for the day.

Walking Stick in a national park

10. Bring Supplies

Besides wearing weather-appropriate clothing, comfortable footwear, and a hat, it may be beneficial to bring water, a camera, sunglasses, bug spray, and sunscreen.

Finally, don’t take a bag for collecting specimens since it is illegal to remove items from national sites.

Instead, bring a bag for any trash you may have. And take pictures of all of the neat rocks, shells, and leaves if you want a record of them!

What other tips do you have for visiting National Parks with kids?

Brigitte Brulz is a homeschooling mom, creator of the Adventure Writing Prompt Journal, author of the book Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles, and freelance writer. She offers free coloring pages, activity ideas, and more on her website at BrigitteBrulz.com.

More Budget-Friendly Vacation Tips:

Our Visit to Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery

Have you checked out Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery in Ozark, MO? In this post, I share about our recent trip there, the deals I found, and my honest thoughts on the store.

Deals at Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery

 

Visiting Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery

Our family met up with all of my extended family this past week in Lampe, MO for our annual week at the lake trip. On our way home, we stopped at Lambert’s Cafe in Ozark, MO for lunch.

I had mentioned this on Instagram stories and one of my followers messaged me and said we had to check out this discount store that was close to Lambert’s called Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery.

(Note: they don’t seem to have an actual website that I could find. They do have a very regularly-updated Facebook Page.)

It just so happened, that we were at the gas station right down the road when I read the message and it just so happened that we had some wiggle room in our day. So I asked Jesse if we could run into the store to check it out.

I Was So Impressed With the Deals!

Honestly, because of all of the great deals I often find at my local stores, it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to grocery deals. And when we first walked in and I looked at some of the prices, I figured that this might have a few good deals but probably most of the prices weren’t anything to get too excited about.

But then I kept looking and I started getting more and more excited. I should have known one of my followers wouldn’t steer me wrong!

I picked up a few boxes of $0.49 cookies and crackers and then a few more. Pretty soon, when I started dropping things because my arms were full, Jesse looked at me and said, “Um, I think you need to get a shopping basket.”

That was the point when I knew that I wasn’t going to make it out of this store with “just a few purchases” as I had initially planned on. I was quickly falling in love with Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery.

There were SO many, many good deals! I was especially impressed with the prices on crackers and cookies. They had boxes and boxes and boxes of name brands that were $0.49 to $0.99!

Also, I discovered that if you kept looking, there were many that were marked down to half price!

The Best Deals Were on Snack Items

Some of the prices were more than what I’d pay at my grocery stores when pairing coupons and sales. However, most of the snack prices were less expensive than I can ever find.

For instance, Jesse was thrilled to find Sunflower Seeds for $0.49/bag!

All of the protein bars — including RXbars — were $0.50 each!!

They even had this medicine area with $0.49 items!

I found a number of organic items at great prices, too!

And the candy prices were so good. My kids just couldn’t believe it!

So much for buying just a few things!

How Much I Spent at Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery

Jesse laughed as he saw me walking towards him with my precariously balanced basket. I couldn’t fit one more item in so I knew it was time to call it quits. (We didn’t have a lot of extra space in the car, otherwise I probably would have purchased 2-3 times as much!)

Guess how much we paid for this entire basket full of stuff? $14!!!

Basically, I felt like we were shopping at Dollar Tree! That said, since so many of the items were just $0.49 each, it felt even better than Dollar Tree!

If you are ever in or near Ozark, MO, I highly recommend checking out Christian County Discount Freight & Grocery!

7 Things Frugal People Never Pay For

7 Things Frugal People Never Pay For

Recently, I asked on my Facebook Page for people to finish this sentence: “Frugal people never pay for _________.” Here were 7 things people said over and over again that I wholeheartedly agree with:

1. Magazines

I get so many magazines for free that I never need to pay for subscriptions. (Want to get free magazine subscriptions? Read my post on How to Get Magazines for Free.)

magazines on table

2. Books

Why pay for books when you can check them out from the library, download free ebooks, and download free audiobooks from Libby.

Tip: Read my post on How I Listen to Audiobooks for Free. Also, check out my post on 8 Ways to Get Books for Free.

colgate toothpaste

3. Toothpaste

It’s been a long time since I’ve paid for toothpaste. By combining coupons with sales, I can almost always get more toothpaste than we ever need — for free!

4. Interest

While I don’t have a credit card and have never had one, if you do have one, I recommend paying it off in full every single month so that you never pay interest.

cut up credit cards

5. Starbucks

I love earning Swagbucks points and cashing them in for free Starbucks gift cards. You can also earn free Starbucks gift cards from Shopkick.

6. Cable

There are so many great alternatives to paying for cable TV that are much less expensive — Amazon Prime movies and shows, Hulu, Sling TV, YouTube TV, and more!

(Need some motivation to get rid of cable? Check out this post on how one of my readers saves $700 on cable and how they still watch great TV.)

baseball game on television

7. Brand New Cars

We never, ever buy brand-new cars because they devalue by such a high percentage in the first year. Instead, we try to buy used cars that are in fantastic shape with low mileage that are only a few years old.

What would you add to this list? What do you never pay for? What do you think a frugal person should never pay for?

Get a Budget-Friendly Cell Phone Plan with Gen Mobile!

{This deal post is sponsored by Gen Mobile and contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.}

Looking for ways to cut your cell phone bill each month? Check out Gen Mobile!

Gen Mobile Phones

If you’re looking for ways to save on your cell phone bill each month, you might want to check out Gen Mobile’s no-contract phone service plans! They offer nationwide coverage through Sprint at a fraction of the cost.

They have several different plans to choose from, starting as low as $5 per month! You can pay month-to-month or purchase a 3-month plan to save 10-20% off the monthly price! Once your initial 3-month plan is up, you can either re-up at the same price, switch month-to-month, or cancel.

As an exclusive deal, you can also get an extra 5% off any of their 3-month plans when you use coupon code MSM5OFF3MONTH at checkout — making the lowest priced plan just $8.55 per month!

You can use your current phone (using their $5 bring your own phone kit) or purchase one of their phones. And because Gen Mobile is compatible with most Sprint, Verizon, Boost,Virgin, and universal unlocked devices, you should have no problem keeping your phone and existing number. It’s super easy!

Gen Mobile Plans for Kids

They even have some $9 phones that look like they’d be great for kids. They’re perfect for kids because they’re simple with no frills — just straight talk and text with no camera or data plan.

Gen Mobile offers a 7-day money back guarantee and there are no hidden costs. If you decided not to continue after your first 3 months, you will NOT be charged since there’s no contract! They also pride themselves on superior customer service, and you can contact them at any time with questions via phone, email, or chat.

Mom and Kid Selfie on Gen Mobile Phone

Go here to check out Gen Mobile’s plans!

7 Easy Ways to Earn Amazon Gift Cards

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Looking for easy ways to earn Amazon gift cards for FREE? Check out this list of fun ideas!

How to Earn Free Amazon Gift Cards

7 Ways to Earn Amazon Gift Cards for FREE

When you’re on a really tight budget, sometimes even $5-$10 per month can help stretch your budget so much further. And that’s why Amazon can be a budgeter’s best friend.

There are SO many different ways to earn free Amazon gift cards and Amazon carries just about anything you can think of!

So that means you can use Amazon gift cards to stretch your grocery or household supplies budget, to afford diapers, to buy gifts for others on a really tight budget, or even to just buy something nice for yourself that you’ve really been wanting and can’t make room for in the budget!

These are my favorite ways to earn Amazon gift cards. And while you may not earn hundreds of dollars from each, you’ll find that you can easily earn at least $5-$10 per month from each of these — and that really adds up if you try to regularly use at least 2-3 of these methods!

1. Swagbucks

Swagbucks is my all-time favorite way to earn Amazon gift cads and I’ve been using it for years now.

It is a site that rewards you for completing tasks and doing certain actions online. When you complete a task, you’ll earn points called swagbucks that you can cash in for free gift cards.

Some of the more popular ways to earn are doing online searches, signing up for offers, printing coupons, completing special offers, and taking polls.

Go here to read our complete guide on how to earn swagbucks.

Earn Amazon Gift Cards with Shopkick

2. Shopkick

Shopkick is a mobile app that allows you to earn gift cards for walking into stores and scanning products.

The best part of Shopkick is that you don’t have to buy anything to earn the gift cards, and it can be done when you’re already out and about!

Shopkick is one of the easiest and quickest ways to earn Amazon gift cards — especially if you’re frequently out running errands or shopping.

You can go here to read an in-depth review about how it works.

Also, you can currently get a FREE $5 gift card just for signing up!

3. Ibotta

Ibotta is one of my favorite money-making apps, and it’s a great way to save money on groceries and more — without clipping coupons!

Simply look in the Ibotta app to find rebates for grocery items you’re buying and scan your receipts to get credit.

Earnings add up pretty fast and you can cash out at $20. It’s a super easy way to earn Amazon gift cards for your grocery purchases.

Go here to read more about how to get started with Ibotta.

Trade in coins for gift cards at Coinstar

4. Coinstar

Do you have any loose change lying around? Gather it up and take it to your nearest Coinstar kiosk!

You can trade in your coins for Amazon gift cards without any transaction fee. It’s super simple.

I did this last year right before Christmas and had $208 in coins! I traded them in for an Amazon gift card and used it to buy Christmas gifts!

Go here to find a Coinstar location near you.

5. InstaGC

InstaGC is a site that is similar in nature to Swagbucks. I’ve tried it out a little bit in the past and liked it, and several readers have commented with rave reviews about it!

You can earn points for simple activities like taking surveys, watching videos, searching the web, and shopping online.

They have tons of gift cards you can trade in points for — including Amazon gift cards!

Go here to get started with InstaGC.

PrizeRebel Survey

6. PrizeRebel

PrizeRebel is another site that seems very similar to Swagbucks. I’m actually testing this one out right now and plan to do a full review in the near future!

It’s mostly surveys and video based from what I can tell, but they also have opportunities to sign up for free offers and do special tasks to earn points.

I’d suggest focusing on watching videos and taking their longer surveys. I seem to be getting multiple opportunities per day to take surveys worth 77 points!

Go here to get started with PrizeRebel.

7. Survey Companies

While you won’t get rich or earn a full-time income from taking paid online surveys, it is a really nice way to earn gift cards on the side!

This was one of my favorite ways to stretch our financially lean budget when Jesse was in law school.

Go here to see my list of the top legitimate paid online surveys you can trust.

Amazon Gift Card

Related Links:

Can you think of any other creative ways to earn Amazon gift cards? I’d love to hear in the comments!