Category Archives: frugal family fun

Family Outings

Over the past long weekend we made fun family outings a priority. I’ll give a recap below, but first let me share some of my favorite places to find cheap local family activities:

We started off the weekend by taking the train to the Children’s Museum, with half price admission as a reward for Big Guy’s summer reading program. Later we enjoyed an evening with friends who we’ve been rotating dinner play-dates for the past few years. We have a tradition of bringing the host a bottle of wine in the same cloth bag time after time, and it’s always a casual experience. Dinner play-dates are the simplest way to enjoy the social element of a restaurant in the comfort of friends, without paying for dinner x4. 

The next day we had a nice morning outing to REI (I’ll share more tomorrow), where I used my co-op dividend on some much needed rain pants and new bicycle lights. Hubby got a new pair of Columbia pants which are like his weekend uniform. I looked around for potential holiday presents for the kiddos, but stuck with our list. Keeping to a shopping list is perhaps our most effective was to save money.

Saturday began with our usual walk to the community pool for swim lessons. Then Girly and I headed to a friend’s baby shower (more on that topic later in the week too.) The “Boys” hung out watching football all afternoon, and then we all went out to watch the Ducks stay undefeated. Our dinner wasn’t necessarily expensive, but it always amazes me how much appetizers and beer can add to your tab. It was worth it though.

Our last adventure of the weekend was another tradition of sorts, going to check out the model railroad show that only opens in our neighborhood in November. The members are true train enthusiasts and this year Girly was thrilled to see the miniature cho-chos.

This was an extra long weekend, but it’s easy to see how much fun family outings can be without costing much.

What family outings do you love to share?  



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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

What I Am

I came across Will.I.Am’s Sesame Street music video of What I Am, and it’s so playful and powerful that I can’t help but share it with you. 


It’s so important that we impart a deep confidence in our children, and live as role models who feel positive about our impact on the world. Attitude is the true key to financial success. I also can’t help but share 15 Surefire Ways to Impress, at the base it’s all about accepting yourself in order to connect deeply with the world.





Does this video inspire you?
Have you shared it with your kids?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.






Cheap Get-away

I’m back: rested and rejuvenated from a much-needed anniversary trip to celebrate eight years of matrimony. 
It was our first vacation without the kiddos, and they enjoyed time in the country with their grandparents.


We camped at Lake of the Woods, Jackson F. Kimball State Park, and Crater Lake National Park. The highlights included hiking every day, swimming nearly every day, drinking from headwaters, pleasure reading, no “bed time,” and beating Hubby at Scrabble with my all time high score of 327! The only misfortune was a freak hail storm that left our hood with 15 dents, thankfully we had just gotten off the trail!


We are saving up for our big trip to Denmark, so we needed to keep this trip cheap. Here’s the run down on our budget:


Camping 4 nights (17,10,26,26) = $79
Gasoline = $84.91 (1/3 tank leftover)
Groceries = $119.65 
Eating out ($20 brkfst, $12 drinks, $130 anniversary dinner at Lodge, $6 ice cream) = $168
Bear book for kids = $8


Minus dinner tab = $330.56
5 day camping trip = $459.56
7 days, including family meals en route = $529.46


$75 per day is pretty good for a family of four. Back when we did our first cross country road trip seven years ago we averaged about the same, although it penciled out better when we didn’t have rent/bills to pay back at home.


We surely could have saved if we hadn’t shopped at a small town grocer, but I somehow feel obliged to support the local economy even when traveling on the cheap. Plus, about a third of the food wasn’t eaten up on the trip itself.


What’s the budget for your trips?


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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Family Camping Gear

This weekend we’ll be heading to great outdoors, and in our preparation I started thinking about all the things I didn’t mention in my first post about Frugal Family Camping.


Hubby found a great article about Babes in the Woods, which shares some of the tips I gave and several others that I would agree with. They even has our same REI Hobitat tent. Like the family profiled, we’ve also become fair weather family campers, that’s why our first big alpine adventure is in August. We opted for yurts and cabins in the early spring season. 


As part of my follow-up, I realized that I only alluded to bringing basic gear and didn’t go into too much detail. In reality we bring a lot of “essential” items to our home-away-from-home-in-the-woods. Like most stuff, we’ve accumulated our gear over a decade, so I forget that we actually have a ton of gear. In case it helps here is our inventory:


Camp Gear:
Tent – REI Hobitat, tarp, 
Sleeping Bags – Sierra Designs, North Face and REI
Bedding – sheets, blankets, pillows
Mattress – queen air mattress, 2 thermarests, hand air pump
Headlamps, candle lanterns, hatchet, matches, newspaper, kindling, wood
Camp chairs, baby backpack/Ergo, hiking poles, solar shower
First aid kit, sunscreen, bug juice, TP, maps, guide books, directions/reservations


Camp Kitchen:
Cooler – Freeze milk/soda jugs for ice and extra camp water
Stove, fuel, coffee maker/filters, coffee/tea/hot chocolate/chai
Water – water roller (for sites w/out water, holds 8 gallons), metal water bottles, camelbacks
Picnic table cloth, dust broom, Dr. Bronner’s, dish tub, wash clothes, hot pads, dish towels
Skillet, large pot, small pot set, cutting boards, knives, cooking utensils, eating utensils, plates, bowls, cups, mugs, sippie cups


Food:
Camp pantry – Salt, pepper, sugar, oil
Breakfasts – Coffee, cream, sugar/honey, bagels/muffins, butter, eggs, yogurt, granola, sausages/turkey bacon (my “boys” can’t survive w/out)
Lunches – Peanut butter/jam, cheeses/meats, bread/bagels
Dinners – Easy pre-made things – Pasta, sauce, pre-cut brocolli – frozen chili, hot dogs, cornbread – Mexican fixings, chips/salsa
Snacks – Fruit, crackers, granola bars, fruit leathers, string cheese
Drinks – Water, milk, beer, sometimes Hansen’s
Desserts – S’mores, brownies


Personal Stuff:
Jackets, fleeces, pants, shirts, socks, undies, pajamas, shoes, hats, swimsuits (x4!)
Toiletries, towels, sunscreen, diapers (not next year!)
Books, magazines, toy bin (football, frisbee, catchers), games, kite, camera


One last note of camping stuff, you can never bring too many socks…I found this out the hard way last summer when I foolishly thought that 6 pairs of socks would last 3 days, big mistake!


I also couldn’t help but share a photo of our Big Guy at 7 months on one of his first camping adventures in the North Cascades National Park, I swear he had a smile on his face the whole weekend. Truly a happy camper!


What gear keeps your campers happy?


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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Summer Reading

As I written about before, our local library is one of our favorite places. Participating in the summer reading program gives us another reason to plan a visit, and our Big Guy was thrilled to “earn” a pass to the Oregon Zoo for his first level prize.


Getting to the library can be an challenge for a family with limited means though, and the Children’s Book Bank is brings books to children in need. Plus, there are some classic books you just want to read again and again, and boy do kids love repeats 😉


I love going to the Goodwill for kids books, and when our Big Guy was first born I started stopping there on our neighborhood walks. We’ve found some family favorites, like Apples to Oregon for $1. We also love going to our county library’s secondhand book store, Tidal Wave, which is conveniently in walking distance too.

I’ll save some favorites, like my Mama saved Richard Scarry’s Best Picture Dictionary Ever for thirty years to pass on. But I’m definitely planning to donate many of our growing personal library to the book bank as our kids outgrown them. For now, we are enjoying some leisurely summer reading.


What’s your favorite summer kids books?



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Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.