1. Go to the beach/park - for some of these you may have to spend a small entrance fee. Going to the park or beach is a great way for a family to spend some time together and bond. You can have a full, exhausting day out without spending much if anything. Take a cooler with sandwiches, drinks and snacks. One fun thing to do at the beach is to find a long, deserted non-swept beach and go at low tide to pick up shells and possibly sea horses or sand dollars (you can do this at Honeymoon Island, FL for you travelers! You have to park at the end of the island and walk. Go early in the morning at low tide). There are also Dog parks and beaches that can be a fun way to have your family outing include your fluffy friend.
2. Check out your local theater - most local theaters will have a "pay what you can night" or a "discount" night where you can have a fancy night out without spending too much. I have seen a few great plays this way!
3. Family Game Night- play board games at home. If you haven't done this yet, you should. It may sound lame and boring, but it isn't. Next thing you know, you will be six hours into games and having the time of your life.
4. Spend a Saturday at a Flea Market or "Morning Market"- You can get some really great deals at your local Flea Market, but it can also be a lot of fun just to go and walk around. There are a lot of things that you experience at a market that you wouldn't elsewhere (really cool homemade products, weird karaoke, interesting people and scents, cheap and fresh produce).
5. Theme Parks - Here me out on this one and it may not work for everyone. Some theme parks have special deals where it is actually a steal to get a season pass. For example, Busch Gardens of Tampa, FL and Seaworld of Orlando, FL both have a "fun pass" where Florida residents can get a year pass for the price of a one day admission (around $50 each). If you go just 3 times in a year that is $16.60 per person per day. Go 5 times in a year..$10 per person per day. You can also pay monthly instead of paying the full $50 at once. You get free parking and discounts on food and merchandise with your pass as well! I know not everyone is lucky enough to live near so many theme parks, but check out your local park to see if they have a similar deal. When I was in high school I would go at least 15 times a year ($3.33 per day!!)
6. Movies in the park - If you live near a decent sized city, they probably have free movies in the park. Sometimes they are all kids movies, sometimes they are really old movies, sometimes they are fresh on dvd action movies. All of them are free. Google your city or go to your cities website and search for movies in the park to find listings and times.
7. Spend a day volunteering - Take your family to a nursing home to visit the elderly, help build a home for the local habitat for humanity, serve food at a soup kitchen. You will not only be spending time together, but you will help the community, brighten lives, instill important values in your children and feel better about yourself. You don't have to have money to give.
8. Go "Dream House Looking" - My husband and myself enjoy driving into an expensive neighborhood and driving around looking at houses. We will probably never be able to afford a house as big or extravagant as the houses that we look at, but it is always fun to dream and look at the incredible architechture. Note: this is a Mommy/ Daddy activity only! Most kids wouldn't enjoy this.
Feel free to comment with suggestions of your own!!