According to the EPI (Economic Policy Institute), while we can budget for our future, the average cost to raise a child in California is $233,610. The cost of living seems to be ever-rising along with the price of gas and other necessities, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t still have fun as a family.
Simple budget benders can include things like shopping around for the best bargains online, signing up for cashback websites and finding other savings on the internet. Perhaps saving money can become a family affair and kids can join with parent’s efforts on saving a few bucks. For example, since many children nowadays are more tech-savvy, the next time they’re in the market for a new electronic gadget, perhaps a laptop for school or a new smartphone, task them with finding the best deal online.
HOME ON THE RANGE:
Instead of ordering pizza from the expensive Italian joint down the street, why not make one at home and the whole family can join in. Most national grocery chains now carry inexpensive, pre-made pizza dough and together with fresh vegetables and cheeses, whipping up a pie in our own kitchen is often cheaper than takeout or delivery. Plus the kids get the pride of creating and cooking their own pizza masterpiece.
FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT:
With things like Netflix, newer (or even older) movies can be had at a fraction of the cost of going to the theater. Make it fun for the kids and swap times when it’s the child’s choice to pick the movie or have a theme like Disney classics. Make healthy snacks at home and ditch the expensive, overly buttered popcorn and sugary sweet treats found at the cinema. Opt instead for air-popped corn and healthier granola, nuts and other lower fat finger foods.
ROAD TRIP CLOSER TO HOME:
Instead of traveling to an expensive theme park on the other side of the state or country, try checking out locations closer to home. Utilize a Google search for your city (or neighboring town) and input “top-ten destinations” and travel sites like Tripadvisor will return favorable results. Find parks, museums, historical sights and read their reviews to find locations that have picnic areas and other places where you can dine outdoors with your family. Again, bring your own menu of healthier menu choices, fresh fruits, and vegetables and skip the fast food fares.
TRY NEW THINGS:
Encourage your children to try new foods and activities that will make them happier and healthier. Instead of hanging around the house and playing video games, perhaps it would be more fun to go for a bike ride or hike along a nature trail. If the weather isn’t permissive, instead of watching cartoons, try the Animal Planet or tune into the History Channel.
Instead of processed chicken fingers and ranch dressing, a staple for many kids nowadays, why not try a much healthier salmon steak with a creamy dill sauce. Rather than opening another box of macaroni and cheese, how about tossing a children’s chef salad where the kids can pick different ingredients like sunflower seeds, healthy lean meats, and fresh vegetables.
Often we can get into a rut and simply fall victim to unhealthy foods and activities that we’ve been accustomed to and forget about being more active and eating better. If the family that plays together, stays together, perhaps those who try new things can find activities that can better connect them and help them to bond in new ways.
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