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How to Save Money and Have Fun--Regardless of Income

Updated on August 19, 2012
Source: self--my family after my oldest daughter's high school graduation.
Source: self--my family after my oldest daughter's high school graduation.

Intro

Most articles based on how to save money usually include investing a portion of money weekly, which is definitely a great idea and highly recommended if the person works at a company that offers a 401K plan. Saving for retirement is a must.

However, those with very small budgets and/or limited incomes, those possibilities seem impossible especially when it comes to raising a family.

Due to economically hard times and with a family the size of mine, two adults and four children, we are constantly looking for ways to save money and yet still have fun as a family. This article will provide tips on different ways of saving money as well as inexpensive ways to have fun regardless of income.


Source: self
Source: self

Ways To Save Money


  • Direct Deposit into Savings

Many companies offer direct deposit because it does save them money.

Open a Savings Account without an ATM card--that way money is not as easily accessible.

Set up Direct Deposit with a majority of the money going into main account and as little as $5 or more going into savings account.

When working full time, I had $25 going into savings weekly. This may seem like a small amount to some, but every bit counts!!


Source: self
Source: self
  • Budget Groceries and Use Cash

Set a fixed amount to use for groceries a week; stay within budget.

Take out the cash from main account. For us, our weekly grocery budget averages $120 a week.

Now clip coupons on items that are needed. There are many sites that offer free manufacture coupons like Coupons.com and ShopAtHome.com. Even grocery stores like Stop & Shop offers coupons on their website as well.

Pay cash. Whatever money left over because of sales and/or coupons, will go into what I call a "secret stash." (discussed a few sections down)

Last time I went grocery shopping-- $120 budget - coupons - sales = $30 left over for the "secret stash." Money saved can really add up!


Top Quality Jeans for $5
Top Quality Jeans for $5 | Source
  • Shop at Consignment Shops, Flea Markets, and/or Goodwill

Great way to purchase clothing (especially "play clothes") and household items at a very, very low price in comparison to mall prices.

Before visiting, set a budget and stick to it!

Again, take the cash out of the bank.

Have an idea of what items that are needed to purchase. (example: two pair of play jeans)

Whatever money is left over, put this into a "secret stash".

  • Secret Stash

This is similar to the "swear jar" accept there are many I know would be broke if they had a swear jar.

Have a large jar that is used for change and an envelope used for cash. Put those in an area not easily seen so there is no temptation to spend the money.

Once the change jar is full, take the jar along with the envelope used for cash to the bank. One may be very surprised of how much change is saved.

Decision time--either put the money into the Savings Account or use this towards a much needed vacation or other forms of family entertainment. Another option, put half of the money into savings and use half towards a much needed vacation or family entertainment.


  • Unexpected Money

Receiving money unexpectedly is exciting and can happen from special events such as birthdays, holidays, etc. If the money is unexpected, put half into Savings Account and the rest use for entertainment and fun.



Inexpensive Ways To Have Fun

Some believe in order to have fun family time there needs to be a lot of money involved; there are a ton of ways to have fun without spending too much money and the memories will last a lifetime.

Outdoors

Many towns offer free concerts in their parks which is a great way to spend family time together. Check with the local Chamber of Commerce and town websites for a list of events.

If the outdoors is something the family enjoys, pack a picnic basket, and enjoy a day at a State Park. State parks often have much to offer such as hiking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, camping, and much more.

Source: self Devil's Hopyard--East Haddam, CT
Source: self Devil's Hopyard--East Haddam, CT

Town parks offer another way to enjoy outdoor family fun. Many offer playscapes/playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball/softball fields, and perhaps more. Pack a picnic basket, a ball, and have some fun!

Source: self Mansfield Drive In--Mansfield, CT
Source: self Mansfield Drive In--Mansfield, CT

We are fortunate that we have a local Drive-Ins which offer the newest movies and on Wednesdays offer car load night. We pack a cooler of drinks, as well as a few snacks, and for around $20 we are able to watch two blockbuster hits while enjoying the outdoors.

However, many towns and schools offer a free or low cost movie night in local communities. Check with town websites for information.

Attend local craft shows, festivals, parades, expos and more. These are often a way to window shop and/or become inspired. Depending on the town, can be great fun for the whole family.

Have a pot luck barbeque with family, friends, and neighbors. Each person brings a dish and some bring outdoor games. This is a great way to get to know neighbors as well as have a great time. Outdoor games such as Badminton/Volleyball combo sets can cost around $25. If the weather is hot, water balloons can be fun as well and cost around $1.99 for 200 balloons.

Indoors

Board games, card games, and movie nights are always fun. Key thing, if staying home, be sure to put all cell phones and handhelds away so family time is maximized without interruption.

Crafts, baking, wood work, etc. can be a great way to spend family time together. Children are able to learn a new skill while having the ability to spend time with parents.

Local Malls often have special events that can be fun to attend and at the same time windowing shopping can be a fun way to spend time.


Source: self Mystic Aquarium--Mystic, CT offered free admission for those located in my town.
Source: self Mystic Aquarium--Mystic, CT offered free admission for those located in my town.

Many local museums as well as other tourist sites offer special discounts on different days.

Others offer family discounts or discounts only to those that live locally. This is definitely a great way to take in some culture, learn something exciting and new, as well as history at a much lower rate.

Be sure to check the local paper as well as websites for special discounts and offers. Surprisingly, even the most expensive places may be within the family budget.




Conclusion

Regardless of Income there are ways to save money and at the same time have great family fun at low to no cost.

Although parents may not realize it, the memories do last a lifetime! My children often speak of something we did years and years ago with their friends and of all the good times they have had.

Looking back, I smile because most of those memories cost very little and as they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

I hope this article provided useful information as well as tips on how to save. Thank-you for taking the time to read this hub! Please feel free to comment and suggestions are always welcomed!!

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    • tipstoretireearly profile image

      tipstoretireearly 4 years ago from New York

      We regularly attend free concerts at our local parks. Its a great way to hear different bands, and we always enjoy the view and people-watching.

    • Patty Kenyon profile image
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      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Millionaire Tips, Thank-you so very, very much for taking the time to read this and comment!!! I wish you the best with your apprenticeship!!! Congratulations!!!! THANKS AGAIN!!!

    • Patty Kenyon profile image
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      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Alecia, I completely agree with you that the best memories do not take money to create!!! I truly appreciate you taking the time to read this and comment!!! Thank =you!!!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      These are great ideas not only about how to save money, but also about how to reduce your expenses so that you have money to save, and how to find activities that do not cost a lot of money. I agree that the best memories for the children are those that don't cost a lot of money. Voted up.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      You have some great tips here! I agree that the best memories do not take money to create. As a kid, I just liked having the chance to spend time with my parents.

      I love your idea about getting grocery with cash. That would cut down on impulse buying as well. Great tips! Voted up, useful, awesome and tweeted!

    • Patty Kenyon profile image
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      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Michelle, That is sooo cool that your Dad plays at the concerts!!! That must be so much fun for you and your family!!! I usually find the best things in life are free!!! :)

      Thank-you soooo very much for your continued support and encouragement!!!!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      I think these are really useful, Patty. I love the concerts in the park idea...we have an esplanade here in Singapore (my dad plays at concerts there) and it has free concerts to enjoy. Actually more enjoyable that feeling low after spending a lot of money on a $100 ticket only to find the quality as good or even worse than the outdoor performance! Sharing this.

    • profile image

      IntegrityYes 5 years ago

      I definitely voted up. OOH, Patty! HEH-HEH! You are wise.

    • Patty Kenyon profile image
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      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      carol, With a family of 6, we try to do our best to save in anyway that we can...lol...Thank-you for taking the time to read this, comment, and vote!!! I truly do appreciate it!!! THANKS AGAIN!!!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      I hear often that people want to cut back on expenses but don't. It is a challenge to change your life style no matter how small. You have some really good advice here and easy enough to follow. great job..Voted UP.

    • Patty Kenyon profile image
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      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      hawaiianodysseus, Thank-you so very much for your very wonderful comments!!! I truly enjoyed reading your Hub and look forward to reading more from you!! THANKS AGAIN!!! I truly do appreciate it!!!!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Patty, I love your fresh and straightforward writing style. You have a beautiful family, and I know that you spoke from the heart, having all that motivation to put into practice what you shared in this article. There's a fat but hungry piggy bank sitting to the left of and above my laptop, and for some strange reason, I'm noticing that he's looking at me. Know something? I think he was reading your hub, too! : )

    • Patty Kenyon profile image
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      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      rajan, Thank-you soooo very much for your comments!! I completely agree that the pictures and videos do lead to a lifetime of memories!! I think too many people (at least in my area) believe that only expensive family vacations are all that their family will remember. I am fortunate that my children love family time regardless of what is spent. We enjoy the outdoors and our adventures those are the most precious memories for us!!! THANKS AGAIN!!!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Really wonderful set of ideas for saving money as well as having great family times for low to no cost. Taking pictures and videos of these occasions will lead to a lifetime of sweet memories as well. I liked these ideas a lot, Patty.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • Patty Kenyon profile image
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      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      lol...Actually I read it the way you meant it...lol Thanks Again for commenting!!

    • Patty Kenyon profile image
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      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      cfin, THANK-YOU soooo much for your comments!! I agree and that is why I wrote this Hub!!

      By the way, the Hub you posted today in regards to a story you are writing definitely has me intrigued!!!

      THANKS AGAIN!!

    • cfin profile image

      cfin 5 years ago from The World we live in

      I was meant to write work to live and I guess I got confused :) My point exactly.

    • cfin profile image

      cfin 5 years ago from The World we live in

      Many people forget that we live to work to live, not the opposite way around. If there is no fun to be had, then we are not living. I really like this article. Look to the overlooked. And use what you have got. We cant all be putting away pennies when we don't have pennies to put away.

    • Patty Kenyon profile image
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      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      nanderson, Thank-you soooo much for your comments!!! There is not a lot of articles on how to save money if you don't have much to spare; I wanted to give tips to the average person that my family and I use. THANKS AGAIN!!!

    • nanderson500 profile image

      nanderson500 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Good article, lots of useful tips. Virtually everyone would be wise to read an article like this these days.

    • Patty Kenyon profile image
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      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      billybuc, LOL...the both of you have been so supportive and encouraging to me since I joined HubPages!! It means a lot. I truly enjoy reading your hubs and can't wait for the next installment!!

    • Patty Kenyon profile image
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      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Au fait, THANK-YOU sooooo Much for your comments!! Often times, I think that it is the little things in life that matter the most!! THANKS AGAIN!!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well I could have been as eloquent as Ron but I was trying to be succinct. LOL....great read the second time through as well.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 5 years ago from North Texas

      Some good ideas here. I especially like your suggestions for entertainment. Often people overlook things that don't have to cost a lot of money, and those can be especially fun, educational, and even useful, if you have children and a small budget.

      Voted you up and useful! Will share this hub with followers. Welcome to hubpages!

    • Patty Kenyon profile image
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      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Ron, WOW, you truly grasped the message I was trying to get through--I was wondering if any would!!! THANK-YOU soooo much for the comment!!!

      ROFL, in regards to "how to rob a bank" I will definitely have to check that out!!! I really enjoy reading your hubs!!! There are soooo many talented people on HubPages, it is truly hard to even compare my Hubs to such talent!!!!

    • Ron Hawkster profile image

      Ron Hawkster 5 years ago from United States of America

      Patty,

      How come your suggestions are a lot more practical and useful than my "how to rob a bank" hub? I haven't been able to put to use a single one of my own suggestions in that hub but everything here looks so... useful...

      I love the gist of your message: families can still make due with less, have fun at it and learn a few things in the process. Our culture overemphasizes money and its connection to happiness. Often, that happiness is within our grasp for free. All it takes is opening our eyes and seeing all the beauty to be had. Nothing can buy the happiness that comes with hugging your loved ones, saying a kind word to a stranger, doing a little volunteer work and picking up $5 jeans at the consignment store. And what a lovely family in that picture. I hope it's always full of graduations, accomplishments and celebrations.

    • Patty Kenyon profile image
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      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      billybuc, THANK-YOU for the comment!!! I hope that you have a great evening as well!!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions and a great looking family, Patty! We have used many of these suggestions over the years and they definitely work. Well done my friend and have a great evening.