My husband and I started the Dave Ramsey program about a year ago and as I have mentioned many times before, it has been life-changing for us. One question that I get a lot from people who are just starting the program or who are thinking about starting the program is “Isn’t it hard? Don’t you just wish that you could just have fun sometimes?” We still have “fun” but we have learned to get creative and we’ve also learned to think about things a little bit differently.
Last summer, we actually were able to take a small vacation that we paid for completely using cash and gift cards. We had a lot of fun, but when we got home, we also had peace of mind in knowing that we wouldn’t have credit card bills haunting us in a few weeks from the “fun” we had.
Last week was spring break and I would have loved to take a little vacation, but budgetwise, it just wasn’t in the cards for us. If you take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class, he will tell you over and over again that if you will live like no one else, then later you CAN live like no one else and I think about that all the time!
So, before the week started, we sat down and explained to our kids that we weren’t going to be able to “go away” anywhere but that we still wanted to have a fun week and we told them that we wanted to come up with a list of ideas of fun things that we could do together as a family. The list ended up being so long that we now have a good jump start on fun things we can do together this summer, too! I loved, too, that a lot of the things that they came up with didn’t really include things that would cost money and focused more on just being together as a family. Sometimes as parents I think we feel like we need to give, give, give to our children and I think we forget that it’s the little things that count.
We budget from the 15th of the month through the 14th of the next month. This might not work out for everyone, but it worked out for us. So, our budgeting period had just ended and we actually had about $90 left in our envelopes, so I took half of that and put into an envelope for my son’s birthday, which is coming up, and put the other half into a “Spring Break Fun” envelope.
Here are some of the things that we did as a family during our Dave Ramsey Style Spring Break:
*Arts and Crafts Day ~ This was my daughter’s request. We had so many other things going on that we didn’t have time for an entire “day” but we did spend a few hours throughout the week doing different arts and crafts activities. There are some great free sites out there with a lot of great ideas. One of my favorites it Make and Takes because there are a lot of fun ideas using things that you already have around your house.
*Chuck E Cheese ~ We have been to a number of parties at Chuck E Cheese and each time we go to a party, the kids get a certain amount of tokens. We never seem to use all of our tokens when we’re at the actually party, and so we bring them home and keep them in a cup and then we have a supply of tokens for the times when we want to go and play on our own. A lot of times, there will also be a coupon or sticker for 10 free tokens in the goodie bags at the birthday parties, too. Our Chuck E Cheese also has souvenir kids cups with a straw and you get free refills when you buy the cups. I bought the cups at some point (they weren’t very expensive) and it has been a great investment! So, we took our cup full of tokens and our drink cups and went early one morning and spent NOTHING! We basically had the place to ourselves. The kids played for almost two hours and we cleared out just around the time that it started to get crowded.
*Cici’s Pizza ~ My kids love Cici’s. In the Entertainment book, there are coupons for a free child’s buffet with the purchase of an adult buffet. Kids 3 and under eat free, so we only had to get one child’s buffet, which was free with the coupon. So, the three of us were able to eat for $4.24 including tax and then I got an extra $1 in tokens for them to play the ball game and the crane game.
*Family Game Night ~ Thanks to the Amazon deals during Christmas, we have a well-stocked game closet. We play one or two games here and there as a family, but the kids wanted a “Game Night.” So, we pulled out a bunch of games, let them stay up later than usual, and had a blast during our “Family Game Night.”
*Family Movie Night ~ This was another request from the kids and we actually ended up having two family movie nights. We let each kid pick out a Redbox movie and used free codes to “rent” them. We bought some ice cream and everyone in the family got to pick out their own toppings. We had two ice cream sundae nights to go along with our family movie nights! (The total cost for the ice cream and toppings was $12.59)
*Pump It Up ~ Our local Pump it Up offers a “Pop in Playtime” where the kids basically get to play for two hours. The price for this is $6 per kid, but I had a Buy One, Get One Free coupon from our Entertainment book, so it was $6 for both kids and they had a blast!
*Red Robin ~ My kids love Red Robin and they recently opened one up in our area. We don’t go there often because it is a bit pricey, but we had a gift card I’d earned and there is a $5 off $20 purchase in the Entertainment book, so we ate for free and we have enough left on the gift card to go back and eat again another time!
*Story Time at the library ~ My kids love the library, but we don’t get to go very often during the school year because the story times are usually during the day and I’m working during the day. So, we went to the story time, which included a movie, books, songs, dancing, and a craft, and the kids had a blast. Plus, it was completely free!
*Swimming ~ There is a community center in our area that has an indoor pool and free swimming!
So, when all was said and done, we had $21 left (there was some change, but I put any change we have into the change jar). We used $7.40 to do the Princess and the Frog/Toy Story deal at Toys ‘R Us (that’s how much we spent on all 3 movies because they didn’t have the “right” Toy Story movies with the pre-order).
So, we had $13 left, which went into our “eating out” envelope.
I realize that I have young kids and that what “works” for us will not work for older kids, but I think it’s really important to be realistic about what you can and cannot afford no matter how old your kids are because you’re teaching them a lesson that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. My point, too, is that a little creativity goes a long way when you’re living on a budget!
Also, if you haven’t invested in the Entertainment Book yet, it really is “worth it” Right now, you can get them for 50% off and they are offering free shipping. The prices vary by location (in my area, they are $17.50). Ours has more than paid for itself already.
And….if you’re trying to get out of debt, but haven’t jumped on the “Dave Ramsey Bandwagon” yet, you can register to check out a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class for free! The classes will be held the week of April 5-12th.
Do you have a Thrifty Thursday tip to share? Feel free to link up below!