This “ 6 Family Bonding Activities on a Budget “ post explains the simple, uncomplicated activities that my family does to help us bond together without having to expend a lot of money.
With a growing family, a not-so increasing salary and a never-ending battle with inflation, there is always a need for me to find ways to save as much as my family can without sacrificing a lot especially the needs of my little one. My family lives on one income. Sometimes, I find it difficult to balance between meeting my family’s needs and saving. It is difficult but not impossible. If there’s one thing that I know about myself, it is that I always find ways to make ends meet.
Even when saving is hard, my family and I always take time to bond together. I grew up in a family that didn’t have a lot. Back in the 90s, the only person working in our family was my dad. He was a tricycle driver who earned less than what we needed for a day. Did I mention we were 10 in the family during that time?
It was during that time that I learned how to make the most of what I had. Ever since then, I have carried that thinking everywhere I go and whatever I do. This is why I said that I always find ways to make ends meet.
Having said that, I did have a very good childhood and family experience. Even up to now, I still have that kind of loving family that I have always been proud of. Now that I have my own family, I always say to my wife that it is always possible to have fun in life without spending too much money in the process.
My family was able to do it before and I know it can still be done today. The only difference is I was a kid back then and I am an adult, father, and husband now.
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Family Bonding Activities on a Budget
According the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual expenditure for entertainment is $2,827. Many people consider entertainment as an avenue to bring their family closer together. Being a frugal family, we do also share the same thought. But unlike many people, my family shells out few to zero dollars when it comes to entertainment.
Frugality doesn’t always mean being cheap. Frugality for me is about being creative while expecting the same or almost the same benefits. Here are some of the activities that my family does to bond together with little to no cost to us.
1. Strolling in the park
Whenever the weather is nice and we’ve got nothing else better to do in the house, we go to the park to stroll and just play around. This activity doesn't cost us or dent our budget at all. This is one of those chances that my child gets to play with the other kids or have fun in the playground. She likes the slides so much that it takes most of her time just playing on that one spot.
As for my wife and I, we either go with our daughter and play along with her or we’ll just sit down on one of the benches around that area and just talk. We’ll talk about anything and everything. We’ll talk about what we’ve done during the day and what we want to do in the next couple of days. We also like to reminisce, that is, reminisce the days we were in high school and college and talk about our friends and the funny and not-so-funny things that we did back in the days with our friends.
Strolling is one of our ways to bond with each other. It is our way to relax and just have fun even without shelling out a single cent from our pockets. Well, my wife relaxes while I try to keep up with my daughter. It’s good exercise though.
If there’s one thing that my family likes to do consistently, it is cooking our favorite meals. This is our opportunity to be a part of something that ends up becoming a product that we all, well, end up eating.
My daughter loves pasta and bread. My wife and I always take time to make and cook pasta (i.e. pasta dishes such as spaghetti with meat balls and fettuccine with alfredo sauce) for her. We like to create our own pasta from scratch and our little one is always there to serve as our helper. She would bring us the flour so mommy and I can make the pasta.
It’s the same thing that we do with baking bread. Our little one would bring me the pin roller and flour while my wife prepares all the ingredients. As for me, I always roll the dough. We don’t have the fancy Cuisinart mixer. We find that it’s too expensive for us and it’s just not a good investment for us. Well, it’s not a good investment for us right now but it may change in the future.
It is through cooking that we bond together. It’s a simple task that my family enjoys. It is a fun and enjoyable experience especially when we know that we get to taste the fruits of our labor. It doesn’t cost a lot to create these wonderful dishes. For around $1 or so and some cost in electricity, we get to have bread and pasta that everybody likes to eat.
I’m not including the cost of labor in this equation. If we eat out and order all these dishes, it’ll cost us at least $20 in just one sitting. Between a $1 and some hard work versus $20, I would go with the former that the latter.
This is what I call one of the family bonding activities on a budget. With us making the meals at home, we get to make it cheaply and we always end up with a ton of leftovers that we consume for the next coming days. Most importantly, we get to bond and become closer as a family.
My wife and I love spring and summer seasons. During these seasons we are able to do our wood working activities out in our small patio. Of course, my wife doesn’t do any of the wood working. She finds all the jobs that I need to do and looks for great ideas or projects. As with me, I do all the nailing, sawing, varnishing, and all those activities involved in wood working.
During these seasons, we typically work on at most 5 projects just because we tend to do a lot of activities outside the house. If you ask me how much we spend during these seasons on wood and other materials necessary for our projects, the answer is less than $30 for all the projects. The cost is low because my neighbor allows me to use his tools for free. I do have the basic materials such as varnish, sandpaper, hammer, just to name a few.
We typically go to Craigslist to find cheap to free items. We budget around $2-$4 for most wood-based products. But we are also on the look out for wood-based items that are so bad that nobody would even want to take them for free. Luckily, we do get these unwanted items for free. We take them with us and transform them into pieces of art. I’m no artist but I can re-finish wooden products to make them functional again. I can also do basic woodworking projects like building drawers and bins.
We live in an apartment. It’s typical to see neighbors come and go. We use this opportunity to see wooden products such as small furniture that they no longer need. Since we don’t know all of our neighbors, I usually visit the trash dumpster because a lot of furniture just sit by the dumpster. They’re not in the dumpster but right beside it. I do take most of the furniture I can find with me back to the apartment. Since most furniture are made of wood, my wife usually finds other purposes for the wood other than what the furniture are designed for. My wife is the brain behind the creative use of wood products. I’m just the executor.
The spring and summer seasons are what we consider as project seasons. It is through wood working that my wife and I bond together. She likes seeking new projects and new furniture in the apartment. I, on the other hand, like to work outside, fix things, and make something out of what other people consider as trash.
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4. Crafting and Gift making
My family also loves winter season. Winter season is about Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, snow, and so many other things that can’t be found during off-winter seasons. It is during this season that we tend to work on a lot of crafting especially during Christmas time.
Christmas is my most favorite event of the year. Ever since I was a little kid, I have always loved Christmas because there are so many things that happen during Christmas. I love the festivities surrounding Christmas. I love the gift giving among family, friends, and acquaintances. But above all, I like Christmas because I get to celebrate the birth of Christ. My wife and my daughter share the same feelings.
It is during this season that my wife, my child, and I make our own wreaths, create our own Christmas ornaments, and decorate our apartment with a bunch of lights and Santa Clause figures. My wife likes to create Christmas-inspired pillow cases and table runners. I like to put up the Christmas trees. My child likes to hang the ornaments and play with the ornaments.
It is also during the winter season that we get to be on the extreme couponing mode just because we don’t want to spend a lot of money on gifts. We give groceries as gifts. These products may include shampoos, body washes, toothpaste, among others. We use a lot of coupons and we mostly purchase them from websites that charge fees in exchange for coupons. We usually spend around $25 but that amount will allow us to get products for almost free. Like what I said, it is during this season that we get to turn on our extreme couponing skill. As always, we make couponing fun for the whole family.
For us, winter season revolves around mostly on Christmas. For us, Christmas is always about family and loved ones. We make sure that we make the most of the Christmas time. My wife, my kid, and I are always busy during winter especially Christmas time and it is this season that we bond together again and again.
Just like many families, we use watching as a way to bond our family together. Watching doesn’t cost us money except for electricity. We do have Hulu and Netflix but we don’t have cable. If you want me to include Hulu and Netflix in the cost equation, then, we pay for electricity, Netflix, and Hulu.
Because we have a daughter, we almost always end up watching her TV shows. We’ve learned to love Daniel’s Tiger Neighborhood, Thomas and his Friends, Tinkerbell, and Princess Sophia. We’ve learned to like her shows even if it means that we get to watch them over and over again.
We take watching as an opportunity to teach our daughter the values in life. Even though she’s too young to probably understand the values taught in her favorite shows, we use those shows as teaching props. I don’t know if it’s just us but it’s easier for my daughter to understand what we are trying to teach her when we use her favorite shows as examples.
Of course, my wife and I do get our own time to watch the shows we like to watch. We are hooked on Netflix and Hulu and that I cannot lie about. We like to watch crime-solving and political-type shows like Law and Order: SUV, Madam Secretary, and House of Cards. We do learn a lot from these shows (i.e the areas of politics and law).
6. Doing Karaoke or Singing
Of course, singing or doing karaoke won’t be left out in my list. My family loves to sing especially my daughter. Singing has always been a part of our family and we use that as one of our ways to bond together.
Whether we are in tune or out of tune, singing allows us to be happy and to have a good time without even spending money. We have a karaoke machine that we purchased a long time ago. We use this almost every two weeks or once a month. We sing the songs we love and try to sing the songs we really don’t have a business of singing.
It is through singing that we also get to relax. We sing our heart out without regard to how bad or good we sound. I can’t explain enough how singing brings us closer as a family. The one thing I can say is that we love to sing and we find singing as one of our ways to be closer than ever before. This is what I also call one of the examples of family bonding activities on a budget.
In life, there are things that you can spend on to be happy and, then, there are activities that can make you happy that cost a little to none at all. As a frugal family, we choose to work on activities that won’t break our bank and still manage to get the most fun and what we need out of them. Nowadays, it’s so easy to be distracted with products and services in the marketplace. The truth is, it is always easy to go back to the basics and still find the same satisfaction that you and your family want to have.
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