Frugal Friday: Stay Home to Save Money

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jar of money on concrete by grassy lawn, with text overlay: Frugal Fridays.

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One of the easiest ways that we save money in our family is to stay home. Now, before you roll your eyes and whine, “Boooooring…,” hear me out.

  • Recreational shopping costs money.
  • Restaurant meals cost money.
  • Fuel for transportation costs money.
  • A night at the movies costs money.

‘Nuf said?

I’m not saying that you should never going anyplace. But, if you think through your proposed outing, there may be a way to curb some costs. I loved reader Danni’s comment the other day,

We were very tempted to go out to eat on Saturday, but didn’t want to spend the money. I had half a bag of spinach that needed to be used, so I threw together a spinach and cheese fritatta with toast and fresh fruit on the side. It was very satisfying and we were glad we didn’t eat out.

There are often many quick and frugal solutions to that entertainment or meal that you are craving.

  • Stage a garage sale or do a major ebay-motivated dejunking. Then spend that money on your shopping spree.
  • Cook your favorite knock-off meals at home. My friend Lynn has some great recipes that mimic restaurant favorites, like Panera’s Broccoli Cheese Soup or Chipotle’s Lime-Cilantro Rice
  • Bake your own pizzas on Friday night.
  • Check out a movie from the library for free, or better yet, create a slide show of your family photos and set it to music. My kids love this.
  • Walk to a local park. Take bubbles or a kite to fly, weather permitting.
  • Play a rousing game of Monopoly.

There is no end to fun and good eats — at home.

What do YOU do to save money?

Share your favorite money-saving ideas today. Leave a link to a post that shares some frugal wisdom. (Please no giveaways or deals posts. Teach us how to fish!)

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  1. I actually feel more ’empowered’ after we have stayed home. When I am cooking dinner I imagine others out sitting in restaurants or driving through the drive-ups and how much more money they are spending. And I look at what I am cooking and try to imagine how much this particular meal is costing us.

    I do the same thing with shopping. On a lazy afternoon when I would have been out hitting the stores in the past I like to stop and pause and think what I might be doing right now out there in the world and what others are doing at the moment. Then I go about doing whatever around the house and viola’ no dollars spent. Wee hee…!

  2. Boy I hate to stay home- LOL- but I find FREE things to do like go to the park, free wading pools, free festivals, farmers markets that give free samples, the library- this year we got a ton of free restaurant coupons from the summer reading program., etc.

    1. @jan, I’m glad I’m not the only one! My 3 year old is high energy and 1300 square foot townhome plus 2 large dogs gets him crawling the walls and then mom and dad start crawling the walls and then the dogs start wrestling…. well, you get the idea! In spring, fall, and most winters, not the past one (we live in SC) we can head outside to our “yard” and grassy common areas and play baseball, Fisher Price golf, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, etc. We can also ride the tricycle around the block on the sidewalk. Because my son can get energy out, there is not so much of a need to go other places. Enter summer…. 110-120 heat index 25 days in a row (it just broke, hallelujah!). When it is only 90-100 heat index, we hit the water park (we bought a pass with son’s birthday money since he certainly doesn’t need more toys), the beaches, and the neighborhood pool. But 110-120, even the water activities are miserable so, we have used free passes that mom wisely held onto instead of using right away to jump castle places, gone to open gym time at the Y (we are members and it costs $24 for four weekly sessions, so I guess that costs money, but wild man gets to run, climb, and jump in a/c, so it is worth it!!), walk the dogs at 7 am every day which is not activity for the son but is something he enjoys (stroller)–but 7 am was even muggy and warm for a few weeks!, McDonald’s playgrounds–free Smoothie coupon from Parade and only had to purchase juice box for son, you get the idea. I try to get out and give him space to exert energy without breaking the bank although there is always fuel costs (luckily everything but the beaches are only 5-10 mins away)! I also take the dogs to the beach every Thursday a.m. during off leash hours so they can run and swim since they don’t have a yard to frolic in either. But hey, we use our “yard” in the pleasant months, it is just too hot right now and even if we had a huge yard, we’d be seeking out air conditioned activities! During most years (last years’ winter was COLD), we are rewarded with 8-10 months of gorgeous weather for suffering through July and August!

  3. Yes! We are homebodies. I love making our home a place where my family loves to be. That’s the ticket – making a HOME.

  4. I agree it is best to stay home. Not only cheaper, but usually much better for you. Because we eat out so little, we do splurge and eat at great places when we do finally go out. No chains, just great local places using local food. It’s worth saving up for.

  5. Great idea! I’m just now getting used to (and enjoying – which was probably harder) staying home with our 8 month-old while my husband takes the car to work. Never knew being a SAHM was so HARD sometimes!

  6. So many great ideas! It is marvelous to have so many to choose from since the ‘same old, same old’ can be dull. Thanks for hosting and sharing.

  7. I’m working on eating home more on the weekends. For example, tonight we are going to a nearby fair. Instead of just going and buying dinner for 4, playing games, and then desserts, I pulled left over lasagna out of the freezer to eat before we go. We also often borrow a free family movie from library for Friday nights or walk over to our cool playground!

  8. Staying home is awesome especially after a long week. What we like to do is host an appetizer night. We invite friends and family over to play games and hang out and everyone brings a new appetizer to share. It’s fun and really cheap : )

  9. I couldn’t agree more. I have been struggling with the whole staying at home concept. I think I have gotten a lot better over the past few months though. Since I’m a college girl coupon shopping trips take stress away from me. I realized that I was spending far too much time cruising around for all the deals (lots of gas is wasted!).

  10. I absolutely love to stay home! Some times just a bit too much and I have to force myself to be around people. When my kids say they are bored they get to clean for me.

    My son made a boat out of wood and spent an hour decorating it with stuff he found around the house. One time my aunt gave me some old clothes and they spent hours cutting fabric and sewing pillows and blankets for their stuffed animals!

  11. I totally agree about staying home! This gives cause to make sure your home is fun to stay home in. Investing in games, good family DVD’s, good books, etc. are well worth the money, especially since most of these can be purchased used.

    On Wednesday nights, we have “Family Night” at our house. We rent DVDs from Redbox or from the library, eat pasta and have ice cream sundaes. I stock up on toppings from Aldi during the summer when they are cheapest, but splurge on Homemade Brand ice cream. The kids really look forward to it!

    I think if we’re honest, cruising around with the kids in the car or doing ‘mindless’ shopping can be a way to escape from actually having to interact with the children….not that I would know personally :)…..this can be an area of self-examination for us moms. That being said, we all get tired and ‘burnt’ sometimes, and a good old-fashioned bounce house can certainly be great entertainment for cooped up children.

    Great post!

  12. I couldn’t agree more! And now that summer is here with all it’s heat and humidity, I’ve never been happier to stay home and stay cool. There isn’t much worth leaving the house for when it’s over 100 degrees outside. We love to play board games, do puzzles (our family always has a jigsaw puzzle “going” on the coffee table), and read. We got an ice cream maker for Christmas from my parents, and it has seen a LOT of use. I just found out that you can use it to make homemade ICEE’s, and we’ve done that almost every day lately (using all the free Sobe Lifewater I’ve picked up, LOL.).

  13. I totally agree!!!! And sometimes, the most relaxing weekend is the weekend spent at home, spending time together as a family!

  14. I agree! Staying home builds bonds and saves money. And can I admit something? When I read about families who go out to eat three or more times per week, it doesn’t even appeal to me. It just sounds like work. Seems like I’ve even convinced MYSELF that home is the best place to be! 🙂

  15. Jessica we do this money saving activity often. If money is really tight during the week we just stay home. We bought a blow-up water slide from Craig’s List last year ($150!) and the kids have gladly used it all summer. They also go on nature hikes with a scavenger list drawn up by my daughter9 for 4year old son to find. Having friends over to play is also a big cost saver and the kids would much rather do that than go shopping anyday! The other day I texted my girlfriends to come over at 3:30 for water fun with their little ones and we all had a blast. We love to stay home 🙂

  16. We live in NH and its pretty hot here this summer, we have been going to the local movie theater like you suggested once before and watch the movies for free, then we go to the library for craft day and pick up some movies while we are there and we have a great bike trail that we are going to start to use just as soon as it cools of a little bit! We also have a park with a small lake only five miles away with a nice playground too, no fee to get in.

  17. Thanks for hosting Frugal Fridays, Jessica. 🙂

    I agree about staying home more! 🙂 Having 1 vehicle means that the kids and I have to walk if we want to go any where during the day, which is always cheaper and healthier than driving, any way! 🙂

  18. We live in Colorado and since God has given us some amazing scenery, we love to take day trips. We basically just go on drives and stop at parks, rivers, etc. to sight see or let the kids play. We plan our trips ahead of time and try to visit places we’ve never seen. We take all of the food, snacks and water we will need for the outing and enjoy finding a spot to have a family picnic. These trips end up being pretty frugal for us since all we’re really paying for is fuel.

    We also love having adult friends over for board games, coffee and snacks. We typically reserve this time for after our kids are in bed, for more of an adult fun time.

    AND we subscribe to Netflix!!!

  19. Hi! Happy frugal friday and thanks for sharing your space with us! I am so gonna check out that recipe for panera broccoli cheese soup because my daughter always BEGS me to take her there for lunch so she can get that–now I am totally gonna make some at home and serve up a fancy half sandwich for her! 😉

    A great thing to do is make some home made popcorn and then play games. We always have a blast doing this!

    I posted a great recipe that turned an old bag of brussel sprouts milling about in my fridge into tender, delicious goodness thus saving money by not throwing them out! Keep it real! Alex@amoderatelife

  20. We get dvs and books from the library for weekends. Saves us a ton. Also, we ride our bicycles to a park nearby. That helps us unwind.. 🙂

  21. That’s OH-SO true! Staying home not only saves money, but I find that I’m more relaxed too. Thanks for the reminder!

  22. We make some homemade popcorn and have movie marathons at home with our kids with DVD’s we own or RedBox $1 rentals (and some we even get for FREE using the freebie codes). Lat year we bought an old fahioned popcorn maker for a family gift at Target (we even got $20 free gift card to boot when we did). We felt it would get it’s money’s worth of uses and really does! We also play board games, bake desserts together, swim in our pool, and do art projects.

    For date nights we rotate at friend’s houses and everyone brings a dish or dessert. It’s actually more fun than going out to eat or go see a movie.

  23. We use Netflix to save money. I use a lot of DVD’s from there for homeschool plus you can watch many movies right on your computer. One thing we really like is they now offer watching many movies with a free disc for your Wii. It costs us less than $10 per month and we use it a lot. For cheap entertainment, many Friday nights we bake a homemade pizza and watch a movie from Netflix.

    1. @Becky,
      This sounds just like our house! We requested the disc for our Wii, and I think we’ve used it every day since it arrived! My favorite is to snuggle the whole bunch on the couch in pj’s after the dishes are done, watch a great family movie and eat popcorn. Then, after the little ones are asleep, hubby and I can snuggle together and catch a game (we’re both baseball fans) or at least Sportscenter. Throw in a pizza kit from the freezer and it’s the perfect no-mess, no-stress kind of night.

  24. Great post! I think we are more likely to actually enjoy each other’s company when we stay home. It is hard to have a real conversation when in a crowd.

  25. Besides going to the boys baseball games, we stay home most of the time. I enjoy being home, and am most comfortable, of course.
    However, the boys have been begging for a trip to Chicago, so we are having a Garage Sale at the end of the money, hoping to make enough money for a day trip to Chicago.
    Thanks again for hosting FF!

  26. Every year we create several DVD slide shows with photos and set them to music. We love to watch them over and over again!! We have slide shows of our wedding, baby photos, vacations & a lot more. It is also a fun project to create the slide shows and choose the music & photos.