By Susan Flynn
No matter how cash-strapped they are, all families need some fun diversions. And this is possible without blowing the budget.
The key is to think more creatively, says Foreman. Rather than trips to an expensive amusement park, go on a free factory tour, visit a historic site or see a play at the local community college.
The Fulreader family heads to the library. Besides books and cookbooks, they borrow DVDs for kids and adults. Many libraries also offer free or discounted passes to local museums, zoos and aquariums.
When planning trips, Eckel asks hotel staff: Is this the absolute best deal? Often, she ends up with a cheaper rate. When the happy hour at a local restaurant ended too early for her mom's club, she even asked the manager if he would extend the promotion. He did.
"Always, always ask," she says.
- Sign up for restaurant birthday clubs, which offer a free meal on your birthday.
- Swap baby-sitting duties with friends. "It used to be I was spending $40 to $50 before I walked out the door," says Jubert. Now she swaps sitter nights with other parents at no charge.
- Check out recipe Web sites, such as recipezaar.com, to learn how to make dishes from popular chain restaurants.
- Don't pass up a silent auction. Donated gift certificates or baskets of household basics sell for bids well below their value.
- Rent movies from Redbox, a kiosk found in many supermarkets. New-release DVDs are just $1 a night.
Check out more money saving tips below...
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