Balancing your checkbook may be free, but that isn't fun when your budget is so tight there's nothing left for fun. So many people are struggling to get by, but they still have the need to have fun. As the heat cranks up outside the need for fun increases, so how can you fulfill that need for free? Here are five great ways to have fun and pinch that penny. Maybe next time you balance the budget, you will be able to smile for a change.
- Go to a mall and window shop with your family. This may sound like an impossible task, but if you start out right and explain the rules of window shopping, everyone soon will find out just how fun it can be. It's very important to be sure everyone is well, and I mean well fed before leaving the house. If the ride to get there is over 30 minutes and you have small children you may want to bring a snack. Try to avoid sweet or addictive foods with artificial flavorings as this can lead to more cravings in just a little while later, even if they aren't hungry or thirsty. A cooler is a must if you plan on staying out all day. This saves you from buying any food whatsoever in the mall. Then there is understanding there really is no money and the credit cards are off limits. Leave the credit cards at home. If you haven't already revealed that there is no money and that the purpose of the outing is to enjoy the environment and to look and dream perhaps of items you want for Christmas or a birthday or some other time when an expense is warranted, now is the time to do so. Once your gang gets used to the idea of window shopping and everyone agrees to leave with the pennies nickels and dimes they came in with, it can become a very relaxing and fun time in a cool, air conditioned place, together, as a family. Your expense? Time and gas.
- Stay home and have movie night. Watch an oldie you already have or possibly share movies with other families in your area you are friends with. Keep in mind this is family night not friends night so keep it family only. Make your own popcorn and turn the lights dim and crank up the surround sound if you have it. Your cost? Nothing if you forgo the popcorn. With popcorn it is only a few cents per person. What a savings from movie theater popcorn and tickets this is. Enjoy!
- Make dinner a special event. Send everyone in your family a text message or leave an invitation on their pillow to meet you for dinner downstairs. Be sure to give the time and note that they are to dress up for it. Then block off the kitchen and either enlist outside people to help you fix food you already have in your house or just do it yourself. When it is time to dine, suit up and dine in high style. Be sure to play music at just that right level and peaceful melody as you find in your favorite fine dining experience up town. Go all out and decorate if you want too. You can incorporate some themed items or just grab that beautiful vase of flowers from the other room and set a table that makes them ooh and aah. Dim the lights a bit or set out candles and make it a night to remember. Hey, kids love this stuff too. Your cost? It's already in your budget.
- Make homemade ice cream. Get everyone involved and do it the old fashioned way. Whether you use the old salt machines or the new gadgets which you simply remove from the freezer and press start, your family will love making new flavors of ice cream. Your cost? Ingredients you have in your house already.
- Play board games, games on the computer over your LAN or console games. Getting everyone to play something together changes the whole dynamics of high tech entertainment. It's all about being together and communicating. It can turn into quite the rowdy time when everyone is competing against one another in a game of Wii golf or on an action packed first person shooter. Even if you don't have enough equipment to play more than two players, you can take turns, and everyone can cheer the others on. Make teams and have at it. Your cost? The initial cost of the equipment and games which most people get for Christmas anyway.
So, however you decide to have fun indoors this year as the weather outside gets hotter and hotter, be sure to make it a family affair. Not only does this bring families together, but it can stave off the summer blues too.
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