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Frugal Family Fun: The Summer Edition


It’s the first day of Summer and parents everywhere are in the market for creative and cost-effective ideas for frugal family fun. Here are a few of our family’s favorite ways to have fun without breaking the bank:

 –Go grocery shopping together. We often do this as a family and make an outing of it. If you have to do it, you might as well make it fun! We bring snacks and drinks along, the girls get to ride in those fancy carts most stores now sport, and we have a blast seeing how much we can get for how little. The best part of all is that grocery stores seem keep their thermostat set at almost-freezing temperatures so it’s a cheap way to beat the heat (well, provided that you stick to your list and your budget and don’t impulse buy!).

–Pack a picnic, a blanket, some books, and some toys for the girls and go hang out at a nearby lake for the afternoon. This is especially great for a leisurely Sunday afternoon: the girls get some fresh air and exercise and mom and dad can sit in the shade on a blanket and watch them play.

–Load up the girls in the wagon and walk to a nearby fast food joint
or ice cream shop for drinks or cones. (This is an especially great
thing to do if you have coupons or if there is a freebie offer going

Those are three really simple and frugal things we love to do in the Summer. What about your family? Post your frugal family fun ideas for Summer on your blog and leave your link below so we can all be inspired. Don’t have a blog? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section.

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  • Tracy says:

    We’re blessed to have a beautiful big yard and a pool. During the hot days I stock the freezer with lots of homemade ice-lollies. I use my imagination to keep them interesting – iced tea, fruit juice, yogurt etc. The girls love to suck on the refreshing lollies beside the pool.

    My girls also love the special ‘treasure hunts’ I plan for them. I write up a whole lot of clues that then I hide all over the garden. One clue leads to the next, and eventually the last clue leads to a hidden treasure. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy – some nuts and raisins, a fruit platter or a few small pieces of candy.

    We also spend many hours working in the yard together, especially the veggie patch, and sitting on a blanket under the trees we work together on knitted, sewn and embroidered items.

    In the town we lived in previously when my first child was just a toddler, we used to get extremely hot summers. We lived in an apartment that didn’t have cooling or a garden. We started volunteering 3 afternoons a week at a nearby Crisis Pregnancy Centre just a short walk away. They had A/C! We also used to play Frisbee at the very shady park across the street and enjoyed many picnics there.

  • Jenny says:

    Another thing you can do with smaller children at the market is before you go take pictures or cut out pictures of the items you are going to buy. (if you do this and paste them on an index card then you only have to do it once and then just pick the appropriate ones before the trip) Give the pictures to your little one and let them be on the lookout for the items you need to buy. Keeps them occupied.

  • Miss Mommy says:

    The summer is a great time for the kiddies around here…as our community offers lots of fun/low cost things to keep the kiddies busy all summer long!! In mid-May they actually send us out a Summer Fun Guide….mapping out all the activities they offer with dates and times. They even offer fun things for “us” big kids too…LOL LOL It’s a great program for the kiddies….we have enjoyed going to many events they’ve offered over the years!!

  • Loretta says:

    The “My Family Loves It” blog had an interesting post with a dad’s suggestions on how he makes grocery shopping fun for his kids. The link to it is very long and looks like it won’t fit in the box here according to the “preview.” You can find the post by going to and searching for “geek dad.”

  • Crystal says:

    My husband and I take our three kids out on the lake or river fishing and swimming. We pack food and have a picnic. With a lake close, we only have to buy a little gas for the boat, it’s cheaper than a movie or dinner!

  • Michelle says:

    You don’t have to look far… use those things you already have at home!

  • Susan says:

    Last night we went to the creek. My husband got his wader boots and took the little ones (3 and 1)out in the middle. Who doesn’t love tramping around in the water? They enjoyed it and we got some great picts

  • Amy says:

    We live in a tiny town, so nearly everything we do is within 4 easy blocks of our house. FREE library story hour Monday mornings and craft hour Wednesday mornings. Picnics and playtime at the park. Bike rides all over town (tiny town = safe for small bikers!). Our family summer pass to the city swimming pool cost us $80. Well worth it for the hours upon hours that we will spend there this summer! Back yard barbecues with friends and family. Running around in the sprinkler. Working in the garden. Chasing fireflies at dusk. GREAT LIVING doesn’t cost much in a small town! 😉

  • Jan says:

    At our grocery store- kids get a free cookie- so DD likes that. We like to go to the park/playground just about every day or the library if it is raining. We like to save old bread in the freezer and feed the ducks at the park. Also our public parks have 1 foot deep wading pools that are supervised and clean- what a blessing in the summer!!!

  • Amy says:

    What about geocaching and letterboxing? Those are awesome treasure hunting times!

  • Jewel Cyr says:

    Check out your local parks and recreation centers. We live where there are 3 centers near by. They offer things for the kids, open gym hours daily (Dad takes a book or laptop), family nights with movies and free snacks. Also, check out your local museums, even the small ones, they usually have a free night for the kids and the local small town museums are usually free. Our port has a free tour, it’s pretty neat.

  • I just love Summer because there are so many free things out there as promotions. It is hard to find enough stuff to keep those kids busy all summer.


    Restaurant Coupons, Freebies

  • Kim C says:

    I was inspired by the frugal idea and posted some frugal decorations I have done around my house.

  • Michele says:

    I send my daughter to camp for almost FREE. And anyone else can, too. For the past 3 years, four other moms and I have held “camp” at our homes on a rotating basis. Camp is one day a week. For us, every Monday was camp day. The mom who was hosting camp that Monday thought up fun camp activities in her home for 3 hours (9-12 or 1-4). And the other moms dropped their girls there for those 3 hours. Each week we rotated so that each mom held camp twice in the summer. Every summer by daughter begs me, “Are we doing camp again this summer?” The camp themes have been great – cooking camp, nature camp, carnival camp, beach/water play camp, around the world camp, and camping camp come to mind. It’s a lot of fun to plan and low cost, too. I think I spent about $15 for the carnival camp that I held (games, face painting, popcorn, etc.) and maybe $5 for camping camp (made s’mores, set up tent and went on hike in backyard, had pretend campfire). My daughter and I had so much fun planning what we were going to do. At the end of each camp, the mom did a write-up of what the girls did for the day. And at the end of the first summer, we all got together and created scrapbooks of their summer camp.

  • Michelle says:

    Coupon for FREE Thomas train at Toys R US with coupon ($12.99 value). Once you click on the link you must print the coupon, you will not be allowed to access this coupon more than once on the same computer.

  • Michelle says:

    If the link i provided earlier for the free toy at toys r us does not work. Try this one instead.

  • Michelle says:

    If the link i provided earlier for the free toy at toys r us does not work try this one instead.

  • LeAnna C says:

    Anyone living in the Madison, WI area should be aware that the Henry Vilas Zoo is free, Olbrich Botanical Gardens is free to walk through and they have some great trails around. Also is the University of Madison’s Arboretum is free to the public to walk through, just no pets. My family has loved to visit the first two and we just found out about the Arboretum and are looking forward to visiting this summer! 🙂 For times, here are the links:

  • Heather says:

    This isn’t necessarily cheap, but it is frugal… we go blueberry picking as a family every summer. We pick one Saturday morning, slather on the sunscreen and pick 2-3 gallons of blueberries at a local farm. On the way there we read “Blueberries for Sal”. Our daughter (3) loves it and our infant son seemed to enjoy being outside. We get enough blueberries to last a year, a special memory, and our kids get to see where at least one fruit comes from. Now that my daughter is 3, I’d like to go to a peach orchard as well.

    Other cheap activities that we love – our kiddie pool, homemade juice popsicles, library storyhour and summer reading program, walks to the ice cream place at night, playing in the sandbox, playing at the park, running around in the sprinkler, gardening, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and waiting on the front porch for Daddy to get home at night.

  • Lynne says:

    Any advice on taking advantage of stores that accept “competitor’s coupons?” How do you know which ones stores will accept?

  • Alicia says:

    I take my kids grocery shopping too and when we go each one of them has a “job” to do so they don’t get bored or start asking for everything.

    There is also a very nice playground right behind the store where we shop so on nice days we always for about a 1/2 before going home so they can burn off more energy and I get a fresh air break. 🙂

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