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How to have a fun and thrifty weekend with your family

In this precarious economy, savvy consumers curb their spending on all sorts of luxuries and nonessentials of life. Even simple tasks and activities taken for granted as low cost (grocery shopping, driving, etc.) must be put on a shoestring budget to preserve savings and make every dollar count. In keeping with the thrifty lifestyle that dominates our present consumer culture, I’d like to offer some low-cost options for a common occasion for spending that most can relate to: the weekend.

After working hard all week, it can be tempting to treat yourself to a spending spree over the weekend. You might think to yourself, “What’s the use of a paycheck if you can’t spend your hard earned money however you see fit?” The truth is that you’d be better off saving your money for another time than spending it on fleeting weekend purchases. Here are a few inexpensive activities to consider on the weekend.

Host a dinner party

Dinner Party - a fun and thrifty weekend ideaDinner parties are the adult alternative to going out to a bar or a restaurant on a weekend and spending a boatload of cash. It’s a worthwhile activity that combines two great pastimes: having a great meal and being with friends and family. True, you might spend some money arranging for a dinner party, but your expenditures shouldn’t be anything near those for going out on the town. There are plenty of ways to cut expenses on a dinner party—have guests bring certain items to lessen your grocery list, for example, or arrange a potluck so everyone can bring a family style dish to enjoy with the group.

The best part about hosting a dinner party is that you can play around with the theme. You can make it fancy, servicing a few bottles of wine with French inspired dishes, or you can go casual and host an outdoor barbeque. Do whatever works for your friends and finances!

Turn a simple activity into a family outing

Photography outings with your family can be very fun and thrifty weekend activitiesThis is an invaluable tip for families looking to save money on weekend outings. My second passion is photography, and the summer season offers endless opportunity to capture moving, scenic images with your camera. While my kids aren’t old enough to be trusted with an expensive camera (sorry boys!), I invite them to look for sights that would make a good picture as we take strolls outside. I have little drawing pads that they can use to draw inspiring items they see outside, but getting them to focus long enough on drawing is often wishful thinking. I can usually get them to draw outside on their more introspective days.

When we come back home from our photography/drawing excursions, I load the pictures from my digital camera on the family laptop and let my kids click through the images and pick their favorites from the bunch. I save the favorite pictures in a folder that will eventually make for a photo album of our favorite happenings from the year. It’s an easy way to spend a day, and it doesn’t cost you a dime!

A relaxing “staycation”

Sometimes you don’t really want to do anything over the weekend, and that’s good news for your wallet. During these bouts of laziness, I recommend taking a nice “staycation” from the comfort of your home. You know the drill: get out of bed when you want, sit on the couch for hours on end, waste some time surfing the web, and so on. It’s a time to take things easy, a prearranged do-nothing day.

Though they might be low-cost and stress-free in nature, staycations can also be quite productive. You can spend your staycation at home reading that novel that you haven’t picked up in weeks, you can catch up on your favorite TV show, you can even do some basic DIY work around the house if the mood strikes you. However you decide to spend your staycation, it’ll probably be free, and that’s the best kind of entertainment you can hope for.

How do you save on the weekends? Let me know in the comments below.