Sorry about being MIA for the last few months. I’ve been busy, busy and unfortunately, this blog fell by the wayside. I promise I won’t do that to you again (if there are any of “you” still out there). I might not be able to post every day, but I’m going to try to stop by here a few times a week. I really enjoy blogging and I miss your sweet comments. Anyway, on to today’s post…
Here in New Jersey we’ve been spared the frigid cold of winter so far. It’s been hovering in the 30s and 40s and I haven’t been complaining. Well it’s not going to last much longer. There’s a cold front on its way and it’s about to get brutally cold. I’m not a fan of this time of year when it’s too cold to do anything outside. I don’t like being stuck at home, but the cost of fun indoor activities add up quick. Museums, aquariums, going to the movies – all are going to cost you. So today, I wanted to share a list of family activities that are (practically) free.
1. Make hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows.
2. Go to the library and check out some fun winter books.
3. If there’s snow, go sledding.
4. Make snow angles.
5. Act out a play.
6. Read a long book out together.
7. Try a new recipe.
8. Volunteer at a local animal shelter.
9. Plant seeds for spring.
10. Play board games.
11. Set your kids loose on an indoor scavenger.
12. Try a craft – the messier, the better.
13. Donate used clothing or toys to the needy.
14. Take a tour of your local fire department.
15. Build a fort with couch cushions and blankets.
16. Film a silly video and post it on YouTube.
17. Do a puzzle.
18. Visit friends or family who are out of town.
19. Take pictures of nature.
20. Host the winter Olympics – complete with gold, bronze and silver metals.
21. Bake cookies for family and friends.
22. Play dress up.
23. Build a gingerbread house.
24. Bundle up and go for a walk.
25. Rent a $1 movie, pop some popcorn and have a movie night.
Any other ideas? What activities does your family like to do when it’s chilly outside?
Happy October everybody! October is my favorite month of the whole year. I’m pretty sure I covered all the reasons why I love fall in this post and October is the pinnacle of fall! I’m super excited to start prepping for Halloween, so I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks to help save you money:
Creepy costumes on the cheap
1. Host a costume swap. Swap costumes with your friends and family. Chances are your children will be happy to dress as whatever their older cousins were in Halloweens past. Get your whole neighborhood in on the fun, to get a wide variety of sizes and styles.
2. Check Craigslist. If you don’t find anything your kiddos love at your costume swap, check out Craigslist or Ebay. You’ll be able to find some great lightly used costumes for practically pennies!
Devilish decorations done right
3. Make your own decorations. Decorations provide a great chance for you to save money and get creative by making your own. You can make your own decorations for Halloween easily – the point is for them to be a little slapdash and haphazard. DIY ideas range from the obvious jack-o’-lanterns to super creative spooky centerpieces or wreaths. Check out this post for inspiration. I’ll be posting more DIY decorations throughout the month, so stay tuned.
Scary secrets to sugary success
4. Buy in bulk. The best way to save money on candy is to buy it in bulk at a discount store. And don’t forget to see if you can find coupons. I know I don’t like coupons, but Halloween provides a perfect opportunity to start clipping (you have to buy the candy anyway, why not use a coupon?).
5. Buy generic. You can also save by buying generic candy instead of those pricier name brands. Kids probably won’t even notice (it is candy, after all) and will eat and enjoy it just the same as the pricier brands.
Frightfully fun and frugal festivities
6. Start early. The best time to shop for Halloween merchandise is right after Halloween is over this year. Stock up on decorations and costumes and profit with a whopping 75% off discount.
7. Pick a pumpkin, just not at the patch. I love taking the family to pick pumpkins at the local pumpkin patch. But these pumpkins can get pricy (they weigh them by the pound) so my advice is to stick to small pumpkins when pumpkin picking. You can get big pumpkins to carve into jack-o-lanterns at the grocery store for at least 50% less.
Ah, do you feel it? There’s a certain crisp in the air. The kind that makes you want to go grab your favorite sweater and cuddle up with a hot pumpkin spice latte. Fall is here! And there’s no better time to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors. Fall provides so many great opportunities for frugal family fun. Here are 7 inexpensive ideas for fall:
Go for a nature walk. Honestly, there’s no better time than now to get outdoors and enjoy the crisp, refreshing air and the beauty of the leaves changing. Soak it in – you’ll be recharged and ready to take on the manic holidays (which are coming up sooner than I’d like to admit) in no time.
Pumpkin picking. Pumpkin picking is my favorite fall activity. Gather up the family and take them to a farm where you can pick your own pumpkin. These pumpkins can get pricy (they usually weigh them by the pound) so my advice is to stick to small pumpkins when pumpkin picking. You can get big pumpkins to carve into jack-o-lanterns at discount stores.
Go on a hayride. Pumpkin picking farms usually have a hay ride, but if yours doesn’t – find one! Going on a hayride is a fall staple.
Collect leaves. In my family, we turn it into a game to see who can find the most interesting color of leaves. You can string them on some twine and put them in the window for display (and super cheap decorations).
Host a costume swap. Swap Halloween costumes with your friends and family. Chances are your children will be happy to dress as whatever their older cousins were in Halloweens past. Get your whole neighborhood in on the fun, to get a wide variety of sizes and styles.
Enjoy the fall season!
How about you? Do you have any great, frugal ideas for fall activities? Is fall your favorite season like me? Let me know in the comments!
After my son was born, I busied myself (Ha! As if I wasn’t busy enough!) with decorating his nursery. It was never complete – always a work in progress. Back then, just about two years ago, I created these pieces for his wall.
Now I’m in the process of rearranging his room, slowly transforming it into a “big boy” room. These guys used to reside above the crib, and today, down they came. I’ll find another home for them shortly, but decided to snap a couple pictures for you and show you how I made them since it was really easy and inexpensive.
Art Done Cheaply
First, I purchased three canvases. I was lucky enough to find these at a yard sale, but they can be purchased at a craft store as well pretty inexpensively.
To create the images, I used black oil pastel. I traced store bought letters for the large canvas and free-handed the elephant and giraffe based on images I found online. Next, I took blue, green and yellow oil pastels and filled in the entire canvas. I smudged the black oil pastel into the bright color to create the shading I wanted.
Lastly, I sprayed a fixident like dArtigny Oil Pastel Fixatif to keep it all in place. This fixative is a little pricy, but I’ve heard that hairspray works just as well.
I hung them with string and there they stayed for two years. Not bad, right?
How about you? Do you have an easy and cheap DIY project that you’d like to share? Let me know!
P.S. I’ve been featured in the Fiscal Times! Go check it out!
Here at our house, we love to shop at thrift stores (hey, this site is Doggone Thrifty, right?). Shopping at thrift stores or consignment obviously saves money as opposed to always buying new. In fact, you can save about 80 or 90 percent or more of what you would buying retail. Furthermore, at thrift stores you can find some things you just wouldn’t at stores – unique pieces that stand out and look beautiful. We’re talking unique pieces of furniture or a dashing pair of earrings that always get compliments. The thing is, you can find anything at thrift store – for dirt cheap.
(I found these at a thrift store years ago and still consider them one of my favorite pieces)
Shopping at thrift stores or consignment is great for your wallet, but it is also environmentally friendly. Shopping consignment reduces landfill waste and the demand for mass-produced items. When you shop at thrift stores, you’re supporting people who want to recycle their used items instead of just throwing them in the trash. You also while support local businesses, bolstering local economies and helping keep prices low.
My only advice as far as thrift stores is only get it if you love it and it’s just right – if you settle for so-so, it’ll end up unused and a waste of money (i.e. don’t just buy it because it’s cheap).
How about you? Do you shop at thrift stores or consignment stores? Are you like me and do a happy dance when you find a great deal? Let me know in the comments!
Earlier this week, I talked about working out in the great outdoors, instead of in a gym. Therefore, I have to fill you in on the best outdoor place to walk or jog in central New Jersey. The Brick Reservoir is the perfect place to get your exercise on. It’s a 1.6 mile loop around crystal clear water.
It’s a great for place everyone. I bring my little one and my dogs – they both love it. Here they are chilling at one of the observations decks.
The reservoir features an absolutely beautiful walking or jogging path with gazebos scattered along the way, so you can take a break and enjoy the cool breeze.
Plus, its free and you can’t beat that my frugal friends!
The little guy and I have a routine – if the forecast is rain, we head to the Environmental Center a the Manasquan Reservoir in Howell, New Jersey. We usually end up there about once a week. Surprisingly, he doesn’t get bored of it. Maybe that’s because there’s just so much to do.
There’s a kid’s room with tons of stuffed animals, puzzles and books.
There’s a room full of animals for the kids to look at. Turtles, fish, frogs, snakes – you name it, it’s probably here.
Even a crayfish!
The best part about the Environmental Center is that the kids learn something while they’re there. They might not look like they’re learning, but they’re taking it all in. They’re looking at the different animals, learning they’re names and finding out about their habitats. It’s educational, but it’s not throwing it in the kid’s faces – they’re still having fun. And there’s no better way to learn than through play.
Also, it’s free. You can’t beat that. As a mom, I’ve found the there are very few free indoor activities for kids. This is one I definitely recommend. In fact, I can’t recommend it enough. If you live locally, go check it out.
Yesterday, Josh and I, along with some friends went to the Dorbrook Sprayground in Howell, New Jersey. It’s a free splash park, operated by the Monmouth County Parks system.
The kids had a blast. the park has a giant water table, spray guns, buckets that fill with water and dump when you least except it, and lots and lots of sprinklers and sprayers. We brought a couple buckets and watering cans for the kids to play with and they loves filling them up and dumping them out. There are picnic tables and umbrellas for the moms to hang out and keep cool, but we went right in joined the kids for some splashing fun. Unfortunately, our trip was cut short due to an impending thunderstorm, but we got more than our money’s worth (did I mention it was free?)
Going to the splash ground is the perfect free activity for a hot summer day. If you live in the Central Jersey area, I definitely recommend Dorbrook Sprayground. If you don’t, check online and see if there are any in your area. It’s definitely worth a look.
Have you every been to a spray ground? Did your kids love it as much as mine?
Are you excited about the London Olympics? Over in the Doggone Thrifty household, we are pretty pumped for the opening ceremonies tonight. That’s why I thought it would be such a great idea to do a fun craft honoring the Olympic games. This craft is pretty thrifty as you probably already have most of the items you need (really good for non-plan-aheaders like myself).
Five paper plates
1. Cut out the center of five paper plates.
2. Use crayons to color each plate the color of the Olympic rings – one blue, one black, one red, one yellow and one green.
3. Arrange the plates in the order the Olympic rings are in the Olympic symbol. See the symbol above.
4. Glue the plates in place.
Have fun and enjoy the opening ceremonies tonight!
Hello! Welcome to the home of practical parenting tips that save you money. I'm Rebecca, the creative mind behind this site.
I am also a professional writer... and I'd be happy to work with you on your next project.
ContactFeel free to contact me at doggonethrifty [at] gmail [dot] com. I'd love to hear from you!