Archive for September 7th, 2012

September 7, 2012

The Free Weekend – XP

These days it feels like everyone is pinching their pennies a little tighter.  That, along with Sofia’s great financial posts, have me thinking a lot about the financial education I’m giving my children and the truth is, there is definitely some room for improvement.

So, I decided to give our family a little challenge in the form of a no-cost weekend.  Let’s face it, in the quest for fun and lasting family memories, our weekends tend to be FAR from no-cost and my kids were clueless as to the $$ these weekends’o’ fun were racking up.  They need to be aware that these activities cost money and should be done in moderation.  But more importantly, I want them to learn that you can have fun not spend any money at all.  Thus began our “free weekend”!

Day 1:

We started out by dying some rice and pasta.  [instructions here] We had all the materials on hand, but even if we didn’t, this would have been a very low-cost project.  They loved it – and this was before we even got around to playing with it!


We went for a nice long walk to the neighborhood playground and when we got back, the pasta and rice were ready for playing.  I dug out a big old box from the attic and viola! sensory table! With a few plastic containers and trucks, the kids were good to go for a solid hour while I went on facebook cleaned the house.



And that brought us to lunch time.  The kids wanted pizza, but we weren’t ordering out this weekend so I did a quick search for a yeast-free pizza dough (I didn’t have any on hand and the store was off-limits) and came up with this one.  Pretty good!  Bonus points since making the pizza was a fun activity in and of itself.

The rest of our day consisted of nap time (every mom’s favorite time of day!) and a trip to my parents’ pool with a picnic dinner.  I know, that’s cheating and not terribly helpful if you don’t know someone with a pool, but other options could have been a picnic at the beach or checking the library for free passes to local museums and attractions.

Day 2:

Our plan for the next day was to check out a fish hatchery – or, as I like to call it, the poor man’s aquarium.  The one in Burlington wasn’t too far from us and allows self-guided tours.  So, we packed a lunch and off we went. 

On our way we spotted a sign for a farmers market at Hill-Stead and decided to check it out. 

Good call! There was music and yummy samples and lots of great things to look at.

[Confession: We broke our own rule and scraped up loose change in the van for a $1 bag of “seconds” peaches.  It was so worth it…you’ll see why later…]


With that detour completed, it was off to the fish hatchery.  We had the place to ourselves and the kids had a fun time running from pool to pool as well as taking a stroll through the nature walk. 

The highlight was the large pond in the center where you could watch the trout jumping out of the water.  A perfect spot for that picnic lunch.  And, I kind of died of cuteness when the girls started mimicking the jumping fish!


The next time we are out that way, we’ll be sure to pack the bikes because, as we noticed on our way out, there is a beautiful Rails to Trails path just down the road from the fish hatchery.

Back at home we all had a hankering for some ice cream after our day in the fresh air and sun.  Well, remember those peaches?  This peach sorbet recipe proved them to be the best $1 we’ve ever spent. Mmmmm, so good!


Throw in some laundry, dishes, and snuggly book reading and that about completed our weekend.  See! Free and fun – it can be done! 

What are you best tips for saving money on the weekends? Any great free family activities you care to share?