Family Budget For Frugal Living: Living Cheap Can Be Fun, Too!

by Jacques Sprenger on December 9, 2008

Is your family budget set up for frugal living? No worries, since living cheap doesn’t have to be a pain.

First of all, saving money is now a priority due to the present uncertainties of the economy. But that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the fun in your family budget. Remember that if both of you work, it doesn’t mean that you should be spending to reflect your income level (unless you are filthy rich, in which case stop reading).

family budget

Cut Extraneous Costs From Your Family Budget

Let’s say for a moment that both of you earn $120,000 a year (what else?) which makes you one of those middle class folks Obama is talking about. Depending on your mortgage and where you live, that budget must absolutely be designed with the worst scenario in mind. I hope you’re not spending every dime of the budget every month; nor overspending with dangerous credit cards. First thing to do with that specific budget is to prioritize your expenses. Make a list of what you don’t really need and cut the fat from the budget immediately or ‘sofort’ as our German friends like to say.

What’s In Your Family Budget? Negotiate!

I made the unwanted list one Saturday morning with my wife (yep, the same for 35 years). It was a lot of fun to banter and bargain and finally compromise on that famous budget “unwanted list”. Her magazine subscriptions, gone. My daily newspaper, gone (I get all the news I want from the Web, small wonder newspapers are folding — pun intended). Phone extras like ID Caller and Call Waiting, gone (Let them call again). Taking the grandkids to those expensive movies, out (hey, more than 50 bucks each time). You get the idea surely, although you may ask where the fun is in that budget.

Cheaper Alternatives For Your Family Budget

Outdoor Fun

Slashing the budget for the family’s future tranquility doesn’t imply staying home all day and staring at each other. You want a good restaurant and spend $100 for the family of four? How about dusting off the old barbeque grill and teaching the kids how to grill succulent steaks and sausages for about 25 bucks? How about going to the local beach (I have one luckily 20 minutes away) and pack sandwiches and sodas (better yet, some clean water)? The kids of any age play with abandon on the sand all day long, while you and your spouse stretch the old muscles. If not the beach, how about the local park where you can enjoy a work out with a baseball or a football? That would certainly save on the monthly budget, don’t you think?

Indoor Fun

Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, you can still save lots of money on your family budget by doing what Mary Webber suggests on her blog called The Frugal Family’s Kitchen: board games like parcheesi, chess, Clue, and one I never heard of called Quiddler. She swears it’s the perfect family game for very little money. The TV programs are boring anyway, so bring out the old fashioned fun to your family budget and, at the same time, bond away with your kids and maybe some of their friends!

Try Personal Finance Tools To Manage Your Family Budget

Want to manage your family budget better? Try these resources:

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nicki at Domestic Cents January 12, 2009 at 12:48 pm

I agree that having fun as a family doesn’t have to be at all expensive, even frequently free. A little creativity goes a long way. The most fun we have as a family is usually doing something creative that we made up while lounging in our pj’s! Building forts and playing hide-n-seek rank high on the list :)

2 Kristin @ Making Cents Out of Life May 3, 2009 at 12:45 am

My husband and I used to be almost fanatical about going to the movies. We went at least once a week; mostly matinees but still about $7 per person for the tickets alone. We also paid for movie channels from our cable company. Fast forward through lots of medical crises and you’ve got Red Box. Gone are the movie channels (I simply can’t let go of my cable) and we go see a movie once every 3-4 months at the most. For $1 a night, I can sit at home and watch a good, new movie and eat my own popcorn and drink my own water (or even a Coke that isnt’ $4!). You just gave me an idea for my next post! Thanks!!

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