Investing in Your Kids on a Budget

The economy is doing well, but if your budget is anything like mine, every dollar matters. For many families, meeting the demands for food, clothing, and shelter is extremely difficult and the idea of doing fun activities with our children can seem impossible. The good news is there are ways you can spend quality time with kids and still have money for necessities.

Free things

Go for a walk. It may sound boring, but you can spice things up by teaching your kids the story of creation. If they are older and they know the story, try quizzing them by pointing to things and asking if they know the day they were made. It could even help you sharpen your skills to see if you are smarter than a Sunday school fifth grader.

If you live somewhere with a view of the night sky, stargaze with your kids. I live outside of town and my two daughters like checking out the moon and stars when we are walking home from my in-laws’. To figure out exactly what you are looking at, download an app or check out a library book to get acquainted with the constellations viewable in your area during a particular season.

Volunteering is another activity to consider. My church visits senior citizens, and the children who come along enjoy meeting older folks. Plus, it is a way for you to share the love of Christ with elders. Your children get to see you living out the gospel in a real and tangible way. Additionally, it will help them understand people do not lose value because they are unable to care for themselves. You are developing their worldview and teaching them that God values all people, no matter their physical or mental state. Meanwhile, consider visiting with people on a holiday. Not everyone has friends and family that see them on days like Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, or Independence Day.

Low-cost activities

Visit a museum. Whether it is history, art, or sports, there are museums in just about every town and state. Some of them do not charge admission, although they may ask for donations. Pack your own lunch or snacks and save money on food.

Attending your local high school’s musical and theatrical performances is also worth considering. Like walks, stars, and museums, this may not be for everyone, but it could be entertaining for children who enjoy music and drama. My daughters love song and dance programs. They get it from their parents. My wife and I were in a music group in college, and my dad is a music teacher. Regardless, do your homework on the musical before you buy tickets so you do not find yourself watching something that does not match your worldview. That will save you money and prevent uncomfortable question-and-answer sessions on the ride home.

If none of these activities seem like something to interest your kids, take one for the team and visit a kiddie arcade one Saturday. Sure, it may look like Las Vegas for children, and humans dressed in animal costumes may dance around pizza buffets and salad bars, but a roll of quarters could turn into an hour (or 10 minutes) of fun. Did I mention your kids could use their winning tickets or tokens to get prizes? I prefer the packet of Fun Dip.

Need More Ideas?

Many activities are suggested on webpages designed specifically for parents on a budget. One site I find particularly helpful is Stretcher.com. SixSistersStuff.com also makes suggestions for a ‘cheap date,’ and while you may notice there are pictures of couples, many of the recommendations can be enjoyed by parents and kids. Meanwhile, never overlook local resources such as your newspaper for events that may be happening where you live. You can even read those for free at the library, another great place to spend time with your kids. Most libraries offer story time. Contact your library for dates and times.

Afterward, let your child check out a book, but instead of going inside when you get home, find a nice place to sit and read. Your children may not remember many of the things you did together, but they will never forget the time you spent in connecting with them.

Chris Woodward

Assistant Editor, One Million Dads
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