Enjoy Frugal Entertainment Without Breaking The Bank

IsaacBWHow Do YOU Define Entertainment?

Quite frankly, all of us are different as far as what we value in life.  Entertainment to me could bore you out of the room, but what if I had a plan—making my sacrifice very methodical and purposeful? You value what’s more important to you, and make decisions based on the assumption that you will get something out of those decisions—whether it be fun, security, or both.

You have to sacrifice somethingeither in the beginning or later on in life.  NOW or LATER?  Instant gratification or financial security?  Instant gratification now, comes at a cost much greater than just monetary.  If you splurge now, you are making the decision to prepare later, but if you prepare now, then you will surely be able have some great fun after the hard work is done. What is it that you value?

Perhaps, you could search for some balance or maybe you want to get the hard part out of the way much faster.  Entertainment is what you make of it, but so is financial security. It’s something to think about.

The Money Side Of Things

It seems as though so many of us correlate entertainment with spending large amounts of money.  Sure it’s fun, and worth it at times, to spend money on entertainment for the family, but why not try to save money and have fun in the process.  If you are trying to pay off debt, then using this approach will benefit you greatly, as it will enable you to free yourself from the depths of bondage much faster.  It is even recommended.  😉

When my wife and I decided to rid our lives of debt, we voluntarily forfeited any and all possibilities to splurge on taking expensive vacations.  I certainly wouldn’t advise that you do it all of your life, but in order to build a secure, and financially sound foundation, it is worth noting that it might be a good idea to focus more on the foundation, than being “entertained” into a debt-filled rut.  Again, I am not against fun, but a mature decision would be to delay pleasure, so that later you may have some without guilt, remorse or even worse-homelessness.  What’s the price you are willing to pay?  Every decision you make comes with a price.  Are you willing to pay that price?

13 Activities To Enjoy That Will Save You Money


Outdoor Fun – (My personal favorites!)

  • Hiking – Explore nature, get exercise, and just enjoy the great outdoors.  This is one of my favorite activities and have really enjoyed the fact that Isaac has taken a liking to it as well.  If you happen to live in an area where there are no mountains, or no walking trails, then just take a walk around your city or town.  Enjoy the scenery.

*Cost – No cost, unless the hiking trail is in a state park where most of the time you only have to pay a very small parking fee.

  • Biking – We happen to live in a city that has plenty of bike trails surrounding it.  Of course you do not need a trail to go for a bike ride, but you should take any and all safety precautions when biking through town.  If the city in which you live does not have bike lanes, consider driving to a nice, big neighborhood and riding around it.  Even in a neighborhood setting it is still nice to take in the fall colors and nice breeze..

*Cost – Assuming you have bikes, no cost.  Otherwise, this could be expensive if you went out and bought bikes for every member of your family.  First, search around your city for places that sell used bikes.  Look on craigslist or local classifieds.  In our city there is a place called re-cycle that allows you to come and build your own bike from the parts that have been donated—for FREE.

  • Camping – Camping is fun for the entire family.  I still remember when my family would go to a local campground and we had so much fun.  There is usually always great fun to be had, even if it is cuddling up to a cozy fire and toasting marshmallows and telling stories.  Make Smores, but most of all make memories.

*Cost – Tent supplies and possible campground fees.  Again search on craigslist for used items but you can also find brand new tents for as low as $39.  Plan to save!

  • Horseshoes – A family cookout classic.  This game is so much fun.  Plan a cookout in your backyard, or at a local park and set up the horseshoe spikes.  There’s nothing wrong with a little family competition to liven up the party.  For younger kids, move the line to throw from as close as necessary.  You could also consider buying a set of kid’s horseshoes for safer play.

*Cost – Horseshoes can be found for very cheap.  For as little as $15, but as expensive as $50.  Remember: you are not a professional, so you probably only need the cheap set.  Think frugal!

  • State and Local Parks – You can play catch with a football or baseball, kick a soccer ball around, play Frisbee, have a cookout, let the kids play at the playground, or find a park trail.  Some parks have canoeing and other more adventurous activities.  Search online for a park near you.

*Cost – Usually just the cost of parking, or equipment rental.  Most of these activities can be done for free at the local park.

  • Tennis – I actually love to play tennis, even if I am just there to smack some balls around.  It’s great exercise and the whole family can play together.  Before Isaac was big enough to swing a racket he used to chase the balls around the court and believe it or not, he had tons of fun doing so.

*Cost – Rackets can be found for as cheap as $15 new, but I would recommend finding a racket on craigslist or a local yard sale.  You will not be competing in Wimbledon so keep that in mind before you chuck $75 bucks for one racket.

  • Basketball – Talk about fun!  Shooting hoops is a great way to bond with your children and shed some unwanted pounds in the process.  Even when they are too young to shoot, they find great joy in having you lift them up so they can toss the ball towards the hoop.  For small children you could even bring a kids Little Tykes basketball goal.  We have one for Isaac and he enjoys it very much.

*Cost – Basketballs are fairly inexpensive, so all you need is a few bucks and a destination.

Indoor Fun – (Fun and Cheap)


  • Arts and Crafts – Make gifts for the family or just be creative with your little ones to encourage imagination.  There are  thousands of craft ideas that stimulate growth and mind development and as a parent you will get so much enjoyment out of watching them create.

*Cost – You should be able to do this for VERY cheap.  Construction paper, glue, sparkles, crayons, and anything else you have around the house can be of use.  Try to recycle and use items that would be thrown away like toilet paper tubes.

  • Board Games – This is a wonderful way to have fun together as a family on days when it is raining.  Go dust off the board games in your closet and have some fun together.

*Cost – If you do not have any dusty board games in your closet, you will have to buy some.  For the most part you can find board games as cheap as $10, but most of them are around the $20 price range.

  • Indoor/Home Camping – This one is one that we are planning to do tonight.  For the past 2 days I have been trying to go hiking with Isaac, and he has looked forward to going, then we wake up and are disappointed by the wet streets and cloudy skies.  We are going to put up a tent in our living room, grab some flashlights and tell stories around the campfire fireplace, as well as make some Smores.  This may not be as fun as the real thing but if you have young ones it is well worth the effort.

*Cost – If you have a tent there is no cost involved.  If you have no tent do not worry, because you can always be creative in finding a way to hang up a sheet or blanket to achieve the same type of shelter.  I will update you on how this turns out for us.

  • Darts – I don’t know about you, but I love to play darts!  Cricket, 301, or any variation of the many games available are a total blast.  If you are worried about the sharp points of the metal darts there is plastic tip darts and boards available.  They are fairly inexpensive to buy, but I would again recommend looking for a used one on craigslist or Ebay.

*Cost – It has been a while since I bought my board but I do believe you can get the original and the plastic boards for well under $50.  Actually I am pretty sure I spent about $29.99. Plan to save!

  • Local Museums – Are there any museums in your area?  If so this can be a great place to introduce your kids to something educational.  No matter what kind of museum it is, there is always something to learn and enjoy.  We like to go to Washington D.C. where the zoo (outdoor) and museums are free of charge, and the drive is well worth it.

*Cost – No cost unless you have some driving to do, or if the museum near you charges a small entrance fee.

  • Rent a Movie – Rain got you down?  Go rent a movie and buy some kettle corn and let’s turn this rainy day into a movie night.

*Cost – Less than $5.00.

Frugality Plan – A Call To Action

Everything on the list is fairly inexpensive, if not completely free. Even if you decide to throw frugality out the window, you have a choice to make: Buy your form of entertainment with debt, or an actual savings plan?  In other words, if you go all out, at least formulate a plan to enable you to spend cash on whatever you buy.  It is also worth mentioning that a plan includes spending a little time on researching your purchases, instead of just buying the first one you come across.  Knowing what you are getting for your money is a worthy goal to have.  Sometimes price does not determine quality or necessitate value.

These activities can help you get through a time, when you have decided to take the debt free plunge to annihilate that bothersome debt load.  Put the vacation on hold for a year or two, and you may find that your sacrifice was plenty worth it.  Trust me when I say I would love to take a cruise, or fly to some Caribbean island for a long island ice tea right on the beach, but our financial goals come first.  Actually, J Money (Budgets Are Sexy) and I, have a goal of one day taking a trip and meeting on one of those islands.  The trip will be debt free, and well worth the wait.  WHY? Because of our sexy budgets, savings, and retirement—oh my! Then comes the fun part—GIVING!!  One thing is for sure, J and I, we definitely agree on giving.

Bottom Line: Sacrifice now by saving, paying off debt, and building a substantial retirement so later you can have all of that extravagant fun with out all of the heavy bondage.  Remember that the time will come and you will have to pay it back.  Sacrifice now by doing the HARD part first—instead of later.  Frugal entertainment will get you through the hard part and provide countless opportunities to bond with your family.  What do you value?

About Brad Chaffee

12 Responses to “Enjoy Frugal Entertainment Without Breaking The Bank”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Ken Kurosawa says:

    Hiking and state/national parks are awesome and really are ‘America’s best idea’
    Check out the awesome film by Ken Burns: http://www.pbs.org/nationalparks/

  2. J. Money says:

    Yessir! Love that indoor camping idea myself – always a hit w/ the ladies 😉 errr….the wife.

    Very impressed with the time and passion you put into these posts my man, keep it up! That beach dream is getting closer and closer every single day!

  3. the Dad says:

    Great stuff. By-the-way, most movies can be borrowed for free from your local library. Ours even lets us search online, fill up a queue and emails us when they’re available!

  4. Brad Chaffee says:

    Ken – Will do Ken thanks.

    J. Money – LOL, you are a trip man! We camped out in the living room and Isaac had a great time. We fought with empty 2 liter bottles, played “Cars” on the PS2, and read some of his favorite stories. Money Spent – None! 😀

    Today we went hiking…finally!! It was beautiful. Money Spent – None! 😀

    The Dad – You know I just heard a commercial about the library now offering e-books that you can download for free. (Reading is fun for me) I knew about the movies and yeah that is a great way to go about watching movies. The only problem is that they do not always have the good stuff available. I like the dollar rental places that they have spread around certain grocery stores around. It’s like a $1.00 a movie plus tax.

  5. Great post, Brad! I gave a lot of thought recently to family things that you can do at home (mostly inside) when it’s raining when I wrote a blog post on that topic, and you had a lot of similar ideas. One of my favorites is indoor camping.

    Come to think of it, one of my favorite outdoor activities for our family is camping, too! I took my son for his first “real” tent camping weekend this summer, and we had a total blast enjoying our “boy time” together.

  6. I wish I could take back all those expensive vactions I took 3 and 4 years ago. I took a trip to L.A. back a few years ago and paid for it dearly. The hotel cost me $180 a night. When I got back I wished had never taken the vaction. Things were really tight after that. Now when we think about going on any type of vaction we plan ahead and save for it otherwise we don’t go.

    Also as far as indoor activities go I like to play board games and darts, but you forgot add cards. Their is nothing like a good game of spades.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Chris – Dave Ramsey has a video where he illustrates how when most people take vacations, the vacation usually follows them home. That sounds like what happened to you Chris. Fortunately for us, we have not ever taken an expensive vacation, but the reason would not be because we didn’t want to, it was most likely due to being maxed out on credit cards. haha! We plan to take a REALLY NICE” paid for vacation once we get our 6 months of expenses in our emergency fund. I can’t wait, and we will most likely take a vacation out of the country, maybe Greece or Italy.

      Dustin – I cannot wait until next summer so I can take Isaac camping. I think he will be at the perfect age to appreciate it even more.

      Blake – Reading is a great one for sure. I’ll have to write a post about frugal ways to enjoy your free time. Reading would probably be #1!! If I had such a thing as comment of the week, yours would definitely win first place. Excellent feedback and I have to say I agree with you 500%! The second paragraph impressed me greatly. I never really thought about it like that but you are absolutely correct.


      “I’m noticing that being extravagant in entertainment spending is a good way to avoid having to deeply connect with loved ones. I think it’s often a distraction for people who quite simply don’t have a relationship where they can thoroughly enjoy simple activities with each other. So not only are these frugal activities easy on the wallet, but they enhance relationships in a way that other activities don’t. It’s easier to drown out relationship troubles with a credit-card funded trip to Disney World than it is by camping together in a local park.”

      Call me old fashioned but I really enjoy family time, such as Chevy Chase in the cheesy but very hilarious movie National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. I’ll take a good old fashioned fun-filled family Christmas vacation at home anyday! 😀 Great comment and I hope to hear from you again soon!

  7. Blake says:

    Being a bookworm substantially increases your knowledge and benefits you in a myriad number of ways, but it’s also great because it’s absolutely free (assuming you get books at the library). I would definitely consider this to be among one of my favorite leisurely activities (though it’s not very interpersonal).

    I’m noticing that being extravagant in entertainment spending is a good way to avoid having to deeply connect with loved ones. I think it’s often a distraction for people who quite simply don’t have a relationship where they can thoroughly enjoy simple activities with each other. So not only are these frugal activities easy on the wallet, but they enhance relationships in a way that other activities don’t. It’s easier to drown out relationship troubles with a credit-card funded trip to Disney World than it is by camping together in a local park.

  8. Blake says:

    Why thanks Brad. I just finished Walden a few days ago, and after reading my comment again it seems like Thoreau really did get to me. haha 😉

    I’m definitely looking forward to following your work over here!

  9. TechEntre says:

    I’d throw in Video games in some instances. Specifically games that are more casual, don’t require a subscription to play or any special system accessory or equipment. Also, playing cards and board games online for free. I’ve played Euchre, Poker and Chess with people all over the world for free!

  10. Great way of challenging the concept of entertainment inside a family. Many tend to think that spending recklessly and boasting about the admirable things you did with your friends, in remote and exotic locations is connected to the idea of fun. They totally forgot how it was when they were children, that feeling of freedom they felt when they played with the others. The same freedom is felt when you aren’t ridden by your debts…Try to be creative when you seek entertainment and you’ll spend less money for entertainment; look around you a lot, think about all the connections you have. Take as much advantage as you can of the nature available in your area or in your friends’ area. In the same time, try to maintain a spirit of adventure and the bondage between the family members. Buy a tent and go camping with family, in the mountains or at the seaside, but in the same time think about the risks, too. Try to avoid the seasons when everybody goes to vacation and the overcrowded places. Sometimes, all you need is a play of cards, a ball, a water-gun to find in yourself the spirit of your not so forgotten childhood.

  11. LAC says:

    Making GREAT STRIDES to pay off my debt! I have paid off three debts since Oct 2012! Frugal entertainment can be a challenge but it helps if you can think of things to do for free or very low cost! I always go to the library and they have free admission tickets to some local places where I live. I got two free passes into the Botanical Garden and my son and I enjoyed that very much! I plan on taking out more of these freebies!!! Check out your local library and see what they offer for free or low cost! It is AMAZING what they have!!! I also take out DVD’s and have seen some old movies that have become my new favorites and have watched new movies! I don’t go to the theaters because of the cost but with free library DVD’s I don’t even miss the theater and popping my own pop corn at home is way cheaper!

Leave a Comment...


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.