Bountiful Recreation on a Budget

Living on a budget often conjures up images of scarcity and lack. You imagine yourself watching the world pass you by while you count pennies in a dark room. However, the thing that you are truly unlikely to be doing is cooking rice over an open fire for your children, or scrounging the garbage heap looking for food for them. If you are reading this post, chances are you have a roof over your head and at least a little food in your pantry, unlike much of the developing world. Your are just looking for ideas on how to make your resources go a little farther.
We have lived frugally for so long that perhaps our taste for fun is a little tainted. However, we really do have fun on a budget, and in so doing free up resources to do meaningful things such as packing up boxes for Operation Christmas Child or sending a loved one to a marriage conference.

Today, Sunday, felt very fun, although it required very little financial outlay. We spent a leisurely morning drinking coffee and reading in bed. After preparing ourselves and a salad offering for the church potluck, we scrambled out the door for the short drive to our local fellowship. We worshipped and listened to the Word for a while, and then ate a yummy soup and bread potluck lunch while visiting with church friends.
Later we headed the short distance home where we split into smaller groups to find our own afternoon leisure. My husband had to run the carpet cleaner we had rented back to the grocery store so I hitched a ride with him so we could have a spontaneous date. When our children were younger, babysitting costs would have made this opportunity a little less feasible but with several older children at home, we can sneak out for a quick break together weekly. After dropping the carpet cleaner off at the grocery store we picked up two for one coffees at our local Starbucks. While sipping our steaming mochas, we strolled the downtown area, admiring front porches and discussing plans for an upcoming marriage retreat that we are hosting.

Shortly after we returned home a few of the younger children and I went on a stroll down our country road, admiring the leaves and savoring the cool autumn air. Upon our return we set up a colorful vignette on our picnic table and spent a few minutes doing crayon rubbings and leaf sketches. 
While we were doing our nature study, my oldest son reminded me that I had promised to read an essay that he was assigned in his English class. I scanned it and then went to find and visit with the other children who I had not yet connected with. One of these was returning from a run, so her and I went on a quick walk in the darkening twilight while she cooled down and talked.

When I returned to the house, I was ready for a few minutes to myself, so I instructed another child to heat up leftover soup on the stove and I stole away to my closet to check Instagram, eat chocolate and put away clean clothes, not exactly simultaneously. A few of the middle kids were wanting to watch an action movie that was available on Amazon and were very motivated to tidy up the house so we could watch it together. 
While I had my strange mix of relaxation in the closet, they tidied up the house and got the movie going. As it started I popped popcorn, put on a g-rated movie for the youngest two in my bedroom, and then finally joined them.We sat on the edge of our seats through the movie, spent some time praying afterwards, and then headed off to bed for the night.
Total cost for a fun filled day of investing in relationships?
Leftovers, popcorn, and gas >$5
And the return on the investment is impossible to put a price on.
Family fun is completely within reach on a budget. It might take a little more work or preparation, but the returns are great as we teach our children to love simple pleasures, and demonstrate to them the principle of storing up treasure in heaven instead of squandering it here on earth.


  1. I'm all about cheap dates with big returns! Our family loves to mountain bike, mountain climb, canoe, camp walk together. Our 'dates' usually involve watching something free on TV (we're not big TV watchers and don't have cable, so when I say 'TV', I mean Amazon prime free TV shows ;) ). Memories don't cost a lot of money--and they will last much longer than a dinner and a movie at a theatre!

    1. Your taste in fun sounds pretty similar to ours. I would rather go canoing and camping than go to Disneyland. How nice that your family has cultivated enjoyment of simple pleasures.

  2. This was really encouraging for me! Sometimes I equate fun to expensive activities, and so when we don't have the money for them I get sad and feel like we are missing out. but with a little creativity they don't have to be! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I hope you find lots of simple activities that bring blessings into your life!

  3. Nice investment there! I think we all need days like this...just relaxing, low cost days...together! Love the pictures too!

  4. That's so cool. I love that you guys do marriage retreats. That would be so neat. I also love how you incorporate nature and I agree those things do not have to be costly! I am hoping that habits my family is forming now out of necessity, will truly stick when we are better a situation.