We turned down the chance to buy tickets for the Arctic Monkeys recently because we thought it would add up to be an expensive event with accommodation and all. We’re really proud of ourselves for doing so and we spent the hubby’s bonus by paying it off one of the debts (see my last post ‘I said ‘No!’ to something I really wanted!’). It’s such a great feeling to know that with every payment, our numbers are coming down!
Because we’re missing out on this gig, I started thinking about free or cheap things we could plan to do. So I’ve compiled a list of my thoughts including things to do with the family on days out and also cheap ways to have fun in the evening too.
Days out – free or cheap things to do with the family:
1) Visit local museums and art galleries
In the UK alone, there are loads of free museums and national galleries to visit. I’ve found a whole list of them here on Money Saving Expert. You just have to spend a little bit on fuel to get there! Great fun and it’s always nice to learn something new. There are also lots of commercial art galleries in every city where you can just walk in and browse the collections. Note: beware of the temptation to buy art in commercial galleries! We have done this in the past when innocently browsing an art gallery and have come out much worse off financially. If in debt, it’s best to visit art galleries without much cash and definitely without credit cards!
2) Go on a picnic
This is something that I’ve been doing with my two year old daughter recently. It’s so much fun! We take a bag full of picnic snacks with us down by the river or the local parks, a picnic blanket and some ball games. I love this time we spend together as we chat about all sorts of things and look at the world going by. I’ve found that my daughter remembers events from our picnics together and will talk about things we’ve seen that day for a few weeks afterwards! So I know that she’s enjoying these little outings as much as me!
3) Take a trip to the beach
Here in the UK, the weather isn’t always great for a visit to the beach. But on a sunny day, it’s easy to pack a bag and head off to the sea side, as the furthest away from the sea that you can possibly be in the UK is only around 70 miles! Ah, the perks of living on a small Island. 🙂 We’ve been to our local beach today as the weather has been glorious. It was a whole family outing including the dog.
4) See a matinee performance at the theatre
Afternoon showings are cheaper than evening performances and if you can get a 2 for 1 theatre tickets deal, you could end up with a pretty cheap afternoon out! Better still, if you have a local amateur dramatics club near you, it may be possible to see one of their performances at very little cost.
Camping is more of a weekend break but it is so cheap to do once you have all the necessary kit – and we seem to have gathered quite a lot of the stuff over the years. You can get cheap pop up tents and disposable barbecues to make camping easy these days and there’s some great bargains to be had if you look on Ebay too.
It can cost between £4 and £15 per night to pitch a tent in England depending on whether you want basic accommodation (a field) or more luxurious accommodation (a field, toilets and showers). A few beers and a bottle of wine, the great outdoors: perfect! We really like camping with our friends, it’s a great social activity and refreshing to talk and play games around a camp fire instead of watching TV at home!
Cheap things to do for nights out (or in):
Some of the activities below could be fun for the kids to take part in although you may want to get a babysitter for a couple of them!
1) Come Dine With Me
Come Dine With Me is a TV programme broadcast in England, usually involving 4 or 5 ordinary people who are strangers to each other. Each person cooks dinner at their own house for all of the other guests and then they get scored by each guest out of 10 overall for the quality and taste of the food, the ambiance, the entertainment etc.
Each person provides a menu beforehand and states the dress code for the evening. A great programme and even more interesting when you do it yourself at home! We’ve done this before with some other couples, it adds a bit of interest to the evening rather than just going to each other’s houses for dinner!
You could get the kids involved in this and have an early dinner or you could do this when the kids are tucked up in bed.
2) Hold a games night
We love a good family games night. Get the Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, Murder Mystery and Charades out and let the the fun begin!
3) Hold a fancy dress or themed party at your house
This is one where you might want to get a babysitter! Invite a few friends over and get them to bring their own drinks and some nibbles – this is very important if you want the evening to be cheap! We’ve had some fantastic evenings and some great memories from parties like this! One of our good friends is the perfect party thrower, she really knows how to have a great time and also make it into a cheap night.
Themes have included all the usual events such as Halloween, Valentines Day, Christmas and New Year but also Best of British, Famous People and School Disco to name but a few. Part of the criteria for making it a cheap night is to make your own costume – it’s so funny to see what outfits people turn up in and those nights are always so much fun!
4) The cinema
Now I’m thinking about this one cautiously – the cinema can actually be quite expensive when you add up the cost of 2 adult tickets, a child ticket (or a babysitter) and then there’s the food and drinks that predictably go with such an outing!
But if you can get a 2 for 1 deal which is often available if you have an Orange mobile phone contract, or by checking out vouchers and coupons, it’s possible to have a cheap night out watching the latest movies. You can always eat before you go (and that’s a great way to cut down on cheeky snacks too).
5) Go to a local gig
When all is said and done, there’s nothing like supporting your local community. If you like live music and going to gigs, check out the talent at the local pub. There’s some great original artists around and you can catch them at a fraction of the price of a gig ticket or even for free (plus the cost of a few drinks)! There’s lots of listings on the internet about what’s going on in local areas including where bands are playing.