"Every time we leave the house we spend money. Going out without spending money seems unrealistic. How do you do it?"
Very frequently I get a comment or a question about family outings that are advertised as "free, affordable or low cost". Many families seek out these activities but find themselves having spent more money than they anticipated and discouraged about the possibility of a family outing that is truly no-cost.
I offer the following ideas for going out and not spending money.
1. Carry healthy snacks and water. If you are hungry when you are already out, you will be tempted to eat out. Plan ahead by packing snacks that can hold you and the little ones over until you make it home.
2. Go out for short periods of time. More frequent trips for a short period of time can help train you and your kids to go out and not feel tempted to spend by our consumerist society. Also, timing your daily outings to happen between big meals can also help you avoid the need to eat out.
3. Bring a favorite toy. Have your children bring one or two small toys from home that will keep their hands busy and away from that shiny souvenir at the museum. For example, if you are going to the zoo, have your child bring a toy of an animal they will see there. If possible, avoid gift shops period.
4. Plan ahead. Many local museums have free admission days. Plan on going on those days and save on entrance fees. Other places are only open on the weekend, once a month or only with a reservation. Decide when and where you will be visiting and pack your snacks.
Going out as a family can be intimidating, however with practice it will get easier. If you have additional ideas please share below!